Archive | October, 2016

Missing things

29 Oct

Some time ago, I posted about things I miss about home and recently I highlighted the BBC news article about the difficulty faced by expats who decide to move back to their homeland. This got me thinking about the things that I would miss about Switzerland if I left today:

  1. Public Transport

Everything runs on time. Ok, there have been a few times when the train is a few minutes late, but nothing like as bad as it can be in the UK. The Swiss public transport is relatively expensive for tourists but you are paying for a service that is on time and gets you where you want to be.

  1. Clean city

There never seems to be any litter. This is partly because there are lots of bins and ways to get rid of rubbish so there is no excuse for people not to dispose of things properly. And partly because there are team who patrol around sweeping and tidying!

  1. Respect

People have respect for others and their property. I don’t think this needs a lot of explanation.

  1. The Mountains and Lakes

For example…

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  1. Public Transport (again)

You can always get a seat on a train (generally). The Swiss transport system app also tells you if the route that you want to take is expected to be busy so that you can prepare yourself. When I was studying for my accountancy exams in Manchester and I had to get the train in, I would never be able to find a seat/have to stand/sit on the floor.

  1. Poor English

I find it quite endearing (and at times hilarious) hearing English being used in not quite the right way. One of my personal favourites is ski-driving instead of the English word skiing. The confusion comes because the German word is “skifahren” which literally translates to ski drive (“fahren” is the word that is used to drive a car). I am not making fun of non-native English speakers; more that I find it interesting the linguistic differences between languages.

  1. So many activities

Skiing, swimming, hiking, sailing, Nordic walking, running, paragliding, paddle-boarding, volleyball, Frisbee, photography, painting, rowing, ice hockey… the list goes on and all available in pleasant weather.

  1. Safety

The crime rate is low in Switzerland. Therefore, the need to worry about things like coming home late at night are reduced. That isn’t to say that there is no risk at all and it is advisable to be vigilant at all times but

  1. Not having to drive anywhere

You want to go skiing? No problem, just take your skis on the train and the bus and you will be dropped off directly at the gondola at the resort. The connections are really great. However, having said that, I now have access to a car and I have hit the road for the first time in over 4 years (and on the wrong side of the road!) While the car is more convenient in that I can go and come back when I like, but at the moment I am a nervous driver as I have to remember, not only to stay on the right side of the road but also get familiar with all the signs, speed limits and signaling.

  1. Quiet laws

I appreciate the fact that noise is prohibited at certain times of the day and on certain days so that you are free to relax and unwind. That isn’t to say that I haven’t found myself on the receiving end of noisy neighbours though. I have now moved twice in Switzerland as a direct result of being fed up with noise and decided to move for the good of my health.

 

Article about expats moving home

24 Oct

I read this article on BBC news website today and, although I have no plans about moving back to the UK, I can fully imagine that it would be difficult to leave Switzerland and move.

Over the years I have read a few articles that document this problem that expats face when moving home. To begin with, it seems like a strange concept. It makes sense that emigrating to another country and all the would be difficult with settling in, language barriers and other problems which I have mentioned in passing in some of my other posts but it does seem silly to think that moving back to your home country would prevent similar problems. This is the culture you were brought up in so how could it possibly be hard to go back.

If I think about moving back one of the problems (apart from all of the benefits and advantages that I would lose from moving) that springs to mind would be friendships. I am still in contact with friends from home but inevitably, due to distance and time, the nature of some of these friendships has completely changed. I don’t mean this as anyone’s fault but just physically not being in the same country as someone does has an impact on your relationship. I noticed in the first months and years that relationships had fundamentally changed. People mentioned new people that were now part of the friendship group and had stories that I didn’t understand and I felt strangely excluded from the conversation. Now four years on, friends have moved, had babies etc and I can imagine that things would be different because of how completely they have changed.

I also recognise that my personality has changed and the person that I am today is not who I was when I sat nervously in Manchester airport clutching a one-way ticket. Of course, I would have changed if I had stayed in the UK and never made the decision to leave. I believe in the phrase that travel broadens the mindand if merely travelling to a place broadens the mind, then living somewhere abroad also transforms the mind but in a way that is far more than broadening; though I can’t quite think of the way to describe it.

4 years and counting…

24 Oct

It has now been over 4 years since I made the move over to Switzerland and what a four years it has been. I don’t know where to start really with what has happened since I arrived. Looking back, I hated the first eighteen months here. I felt lonely and was confused by how different things were here. But now I feel very much at home.

The language barrier is still somewhat of an issue but the weekly German lessons are certainly helping. I have blips when I just get so frustrated that I want to quit and I think that German is the worst possible language in the world to try to master but there are other times when I can handle an everyday situation with ease and I remember how far I have come. It’s still not quite zero to hero though.

People at home continue to ask me how long I will be staying here for. The honest answer is that I just don’t know. I feel that my life quality is a lot better here than it would be if I was still in England. I have the huge opportunity of being able travel more easily which is something that I love. This is partly due to the fact that I enjoy more disposable income and that I live directly in the centre of Europe so places are easier to get to (one of the main reasons I decided to come and live here in the first place). Although people, and by people I mean foreigners, say that the Swiss culture is boring and too quiet, I like it and, more importantly, it suits me.

However, never say never. After the Brexit vote, I can’t be 100% sure that I can stay in Switzerland in the long term, with the uncertainty about what will happen when the UK finally leave the EU. In the meantime, I need to enjoy the time that I have here and see what the future holds.