Cats, Cash, and Visas, Oh My!

This is Eowyn.

Eowyn

Eowyn is my daughter’s cat, that will be moving to Switzerland with us. It turns out it is not that easy moving an animal to another country. I was having a hard time figuring out the rules, so Julie’s company put me in touch with a pet relocation specialist. The company was very helpful, especially when they put together a plan that actually made moving Eowyn very easy. Of course easy came with a cost. The bid to get her to Switzerland was almost $5,500. I made the assumption that since the company had me contact the relocation company that it would be picking up the cost as part of our move. Well, I was wrong about that. When Julie talked to their HR department she was informed that moving her would be our responsibility. Honestly, I would still like to find a cat sitter for a year, or until Kaylee can get an apartment that allows cats, but it seems that people are not nearly as eager to take a cat, as they are a dog. I still haven’t figured out exactly how the cat will travel with me, but it looks like I will have a companion on my part of the journey,

One of the struggles that Julie has encountered has been opening a bank account. She was told on her arrival, that she couldn’t get an account until she was granted her permanent visa, but then the next week her HR department took her to a bank to get an account set up. For some reason, we were not able to simply transfer money from one bank to another. I assume it has something to do with international rules, but no one could really explain why. So we were forced to wire money from a bank in the US to the bank in Switzerland. Of course the bankers have figured out a way to make money off of that, because it cost about $150 to wire the money. Here is the part that I don’t understand.

Why does it take almost two weeks to get the money from one bank to another? It isn’t like USAA (our bank in the US) sent a wad of cash, or even a cashier’s check in the mail to UBS (the bank in Zurich). I could understand waiting two weeks for that. Instead this is all done electronically. USAA simply enters the numbers for the receiving bank in a computer, clicks enter, and within seconds the receiving bank gets a message that the money is there. I could even understand a day or two’s delay while someone reviews the transfer, and makes sure that Julie and I are not trying to wash drug money, or something like that. Being a technology person, I thought computers would make the process faster; instead an old fashioned check would probably have worked better. At least the process is finally complete, so now Julie can get a credit card that actually works the way it is supposed to. The European’s have really figured out how to make credit cards easy to use. Just have to touch the card to the reader, and sometimes enter a pin number. Retailers over there seem to have a lot of disgust for our credit card system. Having to sign each slip, even if it is for $1 slows things down a lot. I know we have this technology available over here, because I see the signs everywhere about just touching the card to the reader, but I have never actually seen anyone do that.

Julie was notified yesterday, that her resident visa has finally been approved. She has to go back to Milan next week to get it, but this news was exciting. Now that her visa was approved, the government will finally start working on my visa. The other good news about the visa is that she can get a cell phone plan. We have been paying her company to allow her to use the work cell phone, but this has been more expensive. Even though we wind up using wifi for all our calls. WhatsApp has been just about the only means of communication, I guess it could have been easier if I had an iPhone, but I sent my iPhone with her because we assumed getting a SIM card would have been easy process. From the very beginning we knew Julie would go over before I did, but one of our fears is that something goes wrong with my application, and I cannot join her. It would have been nice if both visas could have been processed at the same time, Apparently that was not possible.

I still have five weeks left at work, so it will be at least six seeks before see each other again. So the visa process isn’t really impacting anything, I have simply found the whole process a little strange.

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