I used the Swiss Care international student health insurance for the 3 ½ years I was a student in Switzerland and couldn’t be more pleased.  At first I was disappointed that I couldn’t continue my cost-sharing insurance substitute that I had in the states because of Switzerland’s laws that all must have basic insurance, but Swiss Care made life much easier practically and financially.  I didn’t understand how it could be so cheap.  I thought there must be a catch, like that they never pay up, but after some internet research they seemed to be legitimate and I signed up.  I write this post to help other people searching about Swiss Care.  It’s a good organization!  They might not have the best of customer service in that they don’t speak the best English and sometimes don’t fully understand a question, but they certainly aren’t the worst in that they welcome your questions and are happy to work with you until you are satisfied.   Most importantly, it was easy to submit claims and I always got the money without any fuss.  I had a 300 Franc deductible and it cost about 1000 Francs a year.  Most of my expenses were pregnancy related, and as stipulated by Swiss law, pregnancy is out of the deductible, meaning there is a 0 deductible for pregnancy.  If you are a student planning on staying in Switzerland longer than three months (you don’t officially need insurance if you stay less than three months) then I recommend Swiss Care.  They have options for non-students, too, but I don’t have experience with that.  I am in no way affiliated with Swiss Care.  I just used their services for a few years and would like to help other students have peace of mind when choosing their health insurance.

Posted by harp on Friday, December 10, 2010 at 10:06 pm | Edit
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I know I have better things to do then blog about this, but Joseph's still napping, so . . .

I bought planner refill pages in Basel, Switzerland and they asked me to register online so that my planner could be restored to me if lost.  I did and chose Switzerland as my "language."  I found it a bit odd to be asked to select my language from a list of countries, but didn't think much of it until the next page greeted me with "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet . . ."  Huh?  Sounds like Latin to me.  Later on it's in French, which makes more sense but there are more German-speaking Swiss than French-speaking Swiss.  Bizzare.

Just to prove I didn't make it up.

(Click to enlarge)


Posted by harp on Friday, November 12, 2010 at 11:17 am | Edit
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It’s is crazy to think I have only been a mother (with a baby outside the womb) for three months.  What a whirlwind ride it has been.  The past few days have been rather miserable for me, but I don’t want to focus on the bad so I’ll write about a few things that make me happy.  I got to chat with my big sis tonight and I’m sure she’s enjoying a lot more sympathy on my part when she is constantly going off topic – to serve her kids.  Actually, we even had some minutes of good listening time without interruption.  Joseph was sleeping so I could enjoy it thoroughly.  She was saying how mothers need an eloquent spokesperson who can accurately portray what the job involves to prepare women without scaring them off.  I said the probably with that is as soon as said eloquent women has a kid she will no longer have the brains to be eloquent . . .

But who needs to be eloquent when talking about the joys of motherhood?  Joseph is three months old and we are so incredibly happy as a family.  He is such a delight and I feel is really starting to bond with me.  I still find it hard to believe I have a son, but maybe I always will.

Recent developments are most noticeable in his hands.  He likes to look at both hands now and he can clasp them together and look at them in front of his face.  He finds it very important work and concentrates very hard.  He is now quite good at reaching out and waving his hand until he gets something and then closing his fingers so that he can hold it.  It’s not a smooth reach-grab movement yet, but I’m sure he’ll get there before we know it.  One development in particular I find fun.  From lying on his back he can grab on to my fingers and he can keep is grip without help throughout a whole sequence of pulling him up to standing, lifting him up in the air so he hangs on his own a few seconds and then lowering him back down.  Holding his head up for that is no problem now.  Of course if he’s tired he won’t do any of it.  I wish I had a bar to practice hanging from, too.

I love watching Papa and Joseph play together.

Yesterday a lady I’ve only met once a number of weeks ago stopped by with dinner for us because “she remembered how hard it was to have a little baby.”

One of my favorite songs came up on my MP3 player.  It’s one that always makes me cry.  I’m sure Stephan thinks it’s cheesy, but cheesy lyrics go well with simple melodies.  I wanted to find it on YouTube and dedicate it to all my family, but it’s on there.  Neither can I find the lyrics online.  As an exile all my CD cases are an ocean away so I can’t type them up either.  It’s a beautiful ballad expressing the joys and difficulties of leaving family and living in a new country by Cherish the Ladies.  It’s “The Missing Piece” on their “Out and About” CD.  It’s a great recording so go out and buy it and listen to it.  I won’t tattle if you cry.
Posted by harp on Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 9:03 pm | Edit
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When I first came to Switzerland I created a blog category “The Switzerland Adventure.”  That adventure went a bit longer than planned making the category somewhat useless, but there is still plenty of adventure to be had.

Despite being a few minutes from the French border I hardly ever set foot in the country.  Numerous attempts at learning the language have failed and I have a comfortable life right where I am.  Yet having accepted a gig near Strasbourg I needed to go buy a railway discount card and the tickets for the first rehearsal.  It was surprisingly difficult to figure out the busses and prices to St. Louis, but despite “mommy brain,” as my sister calls it, I did come up with a plan and the reason why I’m blogging about it is because I executed it flawlessly and in the award-winning time of 2 hours.  I say two things in French besides “yes” and “no” and it’s “I don’t understand French” and “Do you speak English or German?”  The latter let me get what I need at the ticket counter using my German and this trip I decided to use a smile instead of the former when greeted by friendly bus companions.

I wasn’t sure if I’d bought the right tickets, but against all odds our tickets were checked and I wasn’t given any trouble.  Hurrah for Momma!  This little excursion reminded me that I’m not a particularly experienced world traveler.  I’ve just been in Switzerland long enough to go for many days comfortably without having an adventure.  It’s time to be more adventurous!

Joseph slept peacefully during his entire first trip to France.

Speaking of the sweet little guy, he also had his first trip to a bar yesterday evening.  He was awake and content for over an hour despite the noise and live music.  Thanks to Basel’s new smoking ban, we were able to celebrate Richard’s birthday bit as a family.

In the potty news, I missed a really huge one this morning because I thought Joe was complaining about his stuffy nose.  It surely makes me appreciate the times we do catch it!  Also, I had read that when babies are being carried in wraps close to mama or papa they don’t like to pee and will wait until they are out.  The recommendation then is to give the baby the opportunity to go before and after being in the wrap.  Usually I’m too focused on trying to keep him sleeping from wrap to bed so I can get something done, and besides I found it hard to believe since when his diaper is off he’ll go three times in an hour.  Today, however, he woke up as I took him out of the wrap so I put him on the potty.  It’s not too surprising that he peed, but what amazed me is that his diaper was completely dry after 2 ½ hours in the wrap!  It’s funny how despite the success we’re having, I still somehow don’t believe what the EC say is true.  Just think what we could do if I actually believed in what we’re doing!  I’m too insecure and concerned about what I think everyone else is thinking about me . . .

Hm, I suppose that’s one way to have more adventures.
Posted by harp on Friday, September 10, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Edit
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Joseph got his Swiss ID card in the mail today and I got a letter from the NSH testing center.  I passed the German C1 test!!!!  Hopefully I didn’t damage Joseph with the study stress and we already know that the birth went okay even though I had just finished the testing two days before I went into labor.  Somehow it seems more worth it now that I know I passed.  A bit on the test:  The levels are A1,A2,B1,B2,C1, and C2 so I only have one more test to go to show that I’m fluent in German.  I don’t know if I’ll go for it someday.  The C1 is good enough for now.  Of the four sections (reading, listening, written and oral) I passed all but the reading and I failed that by one point (14/25).  I stink at reading comprehension tests in English anyway, so I’m not too surprised.  Luckily my scores in the listening and oral tests were high enough to pull me grade not just up to passing but up to “satisfactory.”  I’m not “good” or “very good” but I don’t care.  This test was a bit of a push for me and the test was hard enough so I’m super proud that I passed!  Excuse my gushing.  I think I’m also excited because here is proof that I have a brain – or at least had a brain – and am not just a cow and a frail piece of flesh.  Speaking of mothering and babies, Joseph is asleep on my chest in the Moby Wrap.  We’re both getting used to it and have made a few successful outings with him in it.  Hopefully soon he’ll be happy to be awake in it as I do laundry and other work.  For now he still likes all of my attention when he is awake.  Luckily it’s a pleasure giving in to the cuitie!
Posted by harp on Tuesday, August 3, 2010 at 5:18 pm | Edit
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Stephan made some pretty Easter eggs with some old parsely leaves and onion peels for dye.  I think they came out quite nicely!  Click for more detail.

The Stücklins took us out to Blüemlismatt for a beautiful view and treats in the sunny breeze.  Here are the birthday buddies about to enjoy their Swiss treats: Vacherintorte!

Posted by harp on Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 8:42 pm | Edit
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We're starting to have signs of spring here in Basel and I've been celebrating by walking to school without shoes.  My, oh my how my feet have softened over the winter months!  I walk to school every day now since I'm not riding my bike anymore due to stability issues, so that has given my feet a quick chance to get toughened up again.  Interestingly enough, people don't seem to ask about what happens when I step on stones and glass and other dangerous objects, rather they are more concerned about the possibility of cold feet.  As it turns out, that includes the police.  Last Wednesday as I was walking past the prison on my way to school, two policemen in a van addressed me with a strong "Guten Morgen!"  Our chat was brief as they were only concerned that my feet might be cold.  I asked if it was legal to go barefoot and I'm happy to say I can go barefoot as much as I want with a clean conscious.  It's nice to know the Basel police care for the whole of a citizen's wellbeing.
Posted by harp on Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 11:43 am | Edit
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Last night I paid a little visit to the emergency room with a friend.  The day started out innocent enough.  Stephan and I had helped his sister move and had avoided injury, then we had gone to a friend's birthday party where I heard about Basel's Sport's Night.  Once a year nearly 70 difference sports group set up station around the city for young and old to try out.  It was the stuff of my dreams.  I always love to dabble in something just for fun without the threat of commitment.  I've long wanted to try to walk on a rope and do gymnastics and this was my chance.


My husband said he had work to do, so I asked a friend from church if she'd join me.  We met up around eight and before ten we were in the hospital.  We at least got a chance to try something cool before our plans changed.  We waited nearly and hour to have our chance springing like gazells on Jumping Stilts.  Maybe we weren't elegant, but we walked away unscathed.


Then we had our ability to balance measured by a computer: I'm above average but favor the right (haha).  Sadly, my friend was a bit below average so on her request we went off to the balance room where number of balancing toys awaited us.  Unfortunately, the first one she stepped on threw her off before the proper exchange of pleasantries expected of polite company,  and her shoulder became intimately aquainted with the hardwood floor.


After spectacularly commanding the attention of the room (she had, after all, taken the aparatus located in center stage) I proceeded to receive a lesson in Swiss emergency care.  I was not impressed.  My friend seemed whole but shaken so we decided to seek medical attention.  Unfortunately, the attendants in the room hadn't a clue what to do.  I asked about a first-aid station, which I had noted when trying to a ticket for the event, but they were skeptical of its existence and only did some research once I insisted it must exist.  We walked the short way to the tent where they were generally lounging and loafing about and seemed rather baffled at our arrival.  They were gentle, but hardly inspired confidence.  Miscommunication could account for some of it, but thankfully I was more impressed with the emergency room, which we went to by taxi.  In the end my friend had a broken arm and we're hoping it can heal without surgery.  My dear husband picked us up with a Mobility (car sharing) car and we finally ended the night around 2am.  I'm happy my friend is okay and I'm also happy that my first visit to a foreign emergency room was not with my husband or offspring.  I might not panic as much having done it once before.

Posted by harp on Sunday, August 30, 2009 at 9:54 pm | Edit
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Last april I performed in a project of Baroque dance and music and some videos from it have been posted.  You can view them here.  For various reasons most of the pieces I danced in are not on the site, but you'll get an idea of what we did at least.

Posted by harp on Wednesday, April 22, 2009 at 7:16 pm | Edit
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I am currently busy practicing the new harp that the schola ordered based on a Spanish painting from 1390.  It as a double row of 14 strings and is quite a challenge to learn to play.  I was walking around the house practicing my saltarello when I noticed this view and couldn't resist a picture.  I wish a treal photographer had been there, but it's cool despite my lack of camera skills.  Can anyone explain why through the naked eye I could only see the main shadow, but the picture produced another?  I'm baffled.  Click on the photo for a larger image.

Posted by harp on Saturday, February 14, 2009 at 5:06 pm | Edit
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I don't know if Mom will figure the title out from Hippo tapes, but BabbleFish will be happy to help those who can't read it.  (And my husband will be happy to correct my German).

I'm a big girl now! Today I only had to employ my alter ego once as I reserved a mobility car, drove it to Germany for piano lessons, then on the highway to Steph in Pfeffingen (only stalling once) and all the way home again (stalling once again, darn it!) signing out 30 seconds before my time was up.  Somehow I assume driving will be much faster than biking and didn't allow enough wiggle room.  Praise be to our gracious God that no incidents happened so I was able to make it just in time for piano and just in time to turn the car in.  A year ago I would have considered driving in Basel an accomplishment, let alone driving it with a stick.  I've had a total of two stick lessons and two Swiss road lessons, so this solo dual country tour was something to be proud of.

Thanks to my lovely husband for filling me with confidence and encouraging me to give it a go.  It also helps a great deal to know that he'd be patient with me if I had totally messed it up. :-* Happy Valentine's Day, sweetie!

Posted by harp on Friday, February 13, 2009 at 7:40 pm | Edit
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There is no post that will be worthy of breaking my blog silence, so having recently learned that I have devoted friends that still check IrishOboe this little blip into life will have to do.  More momentous events will have to wait.

Yesterday in notation class the teacher showed two solutions on the board before handing back our homework.  For the curious, we are currently studying Codex Rossi, an Italian manuscript from the 14th century.  After stating which solution was right and which was not really possible she asked if it was clear.  It appeared clear to everyone, but being my stubborn self I piped up and said "no."  I explained why I had chosen the 'wrong' solution and was not yet convinced of it's invalidity.  The teacher then pointed out that in my transcription I had chosen the 'right' solution, which gave the class a laugh.

True to form, I cannot leave this story as an interesting anecdote.  The incident reveals more than my own inconsistency and even relates to the opening topic of notation class.  We often start down a certain path of thinking and continue to follow it while forgetting the other options we could have chosen to start with.  Our knowledge blinds us to other possibilities.  My transcription was consequent to one way of thinking.  A week later in class I saw a different logic which went so far as to prevent me from seeing what I had seen in the first place.

Still, the better moral to remember when dealing with Yours Truly is:

I don't necessarily agree with everything I say.

 (and when you don't have spell check it takes twice as long to write a post and I bet my mother and husband will still find mistakes)

Posted by harp on Wednesday, February 11, 2009 at 7:15 am | Edit
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I had five solid hours of time to myself at home today for the first time in a long, long time.  I have a clean room and house, organized papers, finish homework and practice and a moment for a post.  It's amazing how having time to do ones own work is a necessary requirement for getting ones work done!  I'm not sure when the next time I'll have such a 'break' but I look forward to it.  Live has been full of intense work at school during the week.  Though difficult, I am enjoying he challenge of lots more playing and am getting comfortable with fiddle and harp.  Wedding plannins is stressful and hard to manage, but at the same time enjoyable.  I've been putting furnature together at Stephan's in preparations of my move there, and there's nothing like a little solid, visible work to make it sink in that my life is about to change forever.  Love to all, and sorry that blog has not been a priority.  This time I can honestly say there is simply no time - I am not wasting more than a moment here and there!
Posted by harp on Monday, November 24, 2008 at 6:29 pm | Edit
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One must always keep a sense of humor about when dealing with foreign languages.  Some offenses are more egregious than others, and this one was harmless, but I got a good chuckle out of it.  After submiting a question with an online form to my Swiss insurance company that specializes in health insurance for foreigners the next screen pleasantly informed me:

Posted by harp on Wednesday, October 1, 2008 at 11:32 am | Edit
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As proof that I'm busy doing all sorts of things and therefore cannot post, I'll take a moment to announce that today the fruit of some of my labor has been plucked.  I am now the proud owner of a Swiss driver's license!  It will be valid as soon as I pay the modest fee of 140 Francs . . .

As expected, my US license was returned to me undamanged but for the sticker "Not Valid in CH."  Basel, have great fear, Janet is now free on the roads.


Posted by harp on Thursday, September 25, 2008 at 1:00 pm | Edit
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