It's been a year since this Australian got on a plane to Switzerland, not knowing how long we'll be here for or what challenges, travels and momentous occasions will unfold. I have to start this post by counting my blessings and although not every moment has been peachy, I do realise not everyone is fortunate enough to live in two beautiful countries such as Australia and Switzerland.
I wanted to share what its been like for me, an Australian, to move to Basel - the quirks, the awesome surprises and the things that make me want to pack my bags and take the next plane back to Australia.
I had a funny encounter with a check-out lady who picked up on my accent. She couldn't understand why I had moved to Switzerland when I came from such a beautiful country. She said she'd move to Australia in a heartbeat if she won lotto. I remember saying something along the same lines to my husband - "Why would you move to Australia when you live in Switzerland!?" I'm not denying the beauty of Australia, however the Swiss landscape leaves little to be desired (okay, maybe the beach!) - majestic mountains and crystal blue lakes do something to my soul! I feel at peace around a landscape so grand.
They're not breakfast people
I tell you, I'm missing the cool cafes/restaurants of Perth - Harvest Espresso, Bib & Tucker, Imp, Tiisch and so many more. I am dying for some creative breakfast food! The truth is, they don't really do breakfast here - it's all croissants and muesli, which is okay... but it's a bit boring. Their brunch consists of meat, cheese, bread and if they're really out there - scrambled eggs and bacon. It sounds like such a superficial thing, but visiting cool cafes was one of my most favourite things to do to relax. Cool interior design, awesome tasty food and good coffee.... c'mon Switzerland!
Post comes on Saturdays
Poor posties - they work 6 days a week... but it means we can get packages delivered on Saturdays too! hooray!
In Australia (Perth specific)- there's basically two seasons - hot/warm weather, or rainy, slightly colder weather. In Switzerland, Every one of the seasons brings a different landscape - the many flowers of spring time, the warm summer and blue skies, the spectacular shades of orange, red and brown in Autumn (where leaves actually fall off the trees) and the snow, bare trees and blistering cold of winter. I've seen so much more beauty in the seasons!!
Swiss checkout assistants don't work as hard as the Aussies
Okay, maybe they do work just as hard but I actually miss food shopping in Australia. It's so easy - great variety in each spacious supermarket, pick your food take it to the checkout, then put the bagged groceries in your trolley, to the car and then your home. In Switzerland - It's a bit more effort. When you pick your fruit and vegies, you then have to weigh it, put in the code and put a sticker barcode on each item. Then when you get to the checkout (its a bit like Aldi) you have to bag it all yourself. It gets a bit chaotic when you're trying to bag everything before the next customer, pray you remembered to put the barcode on everything, and pay for it. All my items are just thrown in the bags... lucky the bread is crusty and doesn't get squashed too much! All plastic bags cost money here (so everyone generally brings their own) and then you've got to lug it home on the tram. Food shopping should be an olympic sport here. I should get a medal! haha.
Its easier to buy alcohol than panadol
In supermarkets you can easily buy alcohol, even my corner supermarket has a good selection of wine, beer and spirits. But panadol? You need to go to the pharmacy. We had a funny situation when we went to Mürren for a weekend and needed some panadol, but because it was a little town (only accessed by a gondola) and the town doctor passed away recently (!!!) you couldn't buy any! Over the counter drugs are quite easily accessed in Australia, didn't realise this until I came here. It annoys me I have to make a special trip to the pharmacy to buy panadol (first world problem, I know - but I live in Switzerland, all my problems are first world)
Dogs come everywhere
Honestly, nothing brightens my day more than seeing the happy dog on the tram that gets to go everywhere with their owner. People are always out with their dogs, walking them, food shopping, getting lunch. Just don't forget to buy a big dog a ticket for the tram. I've seen (a few times now) dogs being carted around in prams. They honestly live the best life here, and they're pretty well behaved too... oh to be a dog in Switzerland!
No beach, No worries
So, there's no beach here - but that doesn't stop the Swiss from enjoying Summer! They're out on the Rhine and multiple rivers and lakes around Switzerland with their beach towels and big inflatable flamingos bathing in the water and sunbathing on the grass. Some of the lakes are so clean and clear you can see the ducks legs paddling beneath the surface.
In fact, all year round - everyone is out enjoying the outdoors - hiking, skiing, swimming, skydiving, base jumping... it really is an adventurers paradise.
On the topic of water though- the water is so fresh and clean you can drink it straight from the tap. No filter required.
They don't hip hooray
After happy birthday we always do the hip hip hooray in Australia... maybe even a 'for she's a jolly good fello'. But after the happy birthday (which they weirdly, all sing in English) there's nothing else... feels like its missing something!
Travel is cheap and easy
Travel is so easy. In a few short hours (or less) I can be in Italy, France, or Germany. Its a 3 hour train trip to Paris, I can be in Germany or France in 10 minutes, and a short plane trip can take you to any european city. The train trips through Switzerland have the most beautiful views - I cannot put away my camera! Every time I'm on a train in Switzerland.. I count my lucky stars i'm here and get to see views like this on the reg.
We also have access to a 'half-card'. We pay an annual fee to get half price off our train tickets - it's more than paid for itself. Sometimes they also have special day tickets - CHF29 for a day ticket. Considering I can get to any place in Switzerland in less than 3 hours it's easy and affordable to do day trips.
So much more smoking
I have to say... it's my biggest gripe about living here. There's double the amount of smokers here than in Australia. Switzerland is very behind in smoking laws. They're allowed to smoke on train/tram/bus platforms, they smoke right at the entrance to many shops and restaurants and even in kids playgrounds. (I should note they are just about to trial no smoking in 6 train stations across Switzerland - it's been met with much resistance). In summer, I feel sad that I can't really dine outdoors without breathing in smoke. It's made me so grateful for the strict laws in Australia that makes fresh air a common privilege, but ugh.... It's the bane of my existence here in Switzerland.
Switzerland is steeped in tradition. Patrick always snickered at 'tradition' in Australia - as it usually means it's only been running for around 100 years (or less). In Switzerland there are many traditional events such as Fasnacht, Vogel Gryff and Desalpé (in the mountains) which have been running for more than a few centuries - sometimes it's been running for centuries beyond what's recorded so it's hard to determine when these started. It actually boggles my mind thinking of all the people that have come before us also taking part in these events. Sometimes I'm amazed that such outdated, and down-right weird events still take place. In Zurich, they burn the 'böög' (English translation: boogie!) until its' head falls off. The longer his head stays on, the better the summer will be.
Expensive is an understatement
When I first arrived, I mentally converted the cost of things to AU$. Probably a bad move! AU$40 for a small plate of sushi (from the supermarket!), AU$20 for two Starbucks coffee's, AU$120 for two indian dishes, rice and 2 non-alcoholic drinks, AU$5 for a short one-way tram trip to the city, AU$320 for a doctor visit (until you reach your health insurance excess). The bright side is you obviously get paid much better here too. But I can understand why some people can't afford to visit Switzerland for very long, but it makes visiting Italy even sweeter - "wait, the best pasta ever for 12 euro??? heck-to-the-yes".
They're serious about rules
Noise and recycling have the most restrictions in Switzerland. No noise from 10pm, and between 12-2pm and Sundays. So don't even think about assembling your ikea furniture during those times. For recycling: take your glass to a local recycling station, take your plastic to the supermarket, your cardboard needs to be put together for a separate verge-side collection and general rubbish needs to be in swiss-approved bags for collection. And for when the noise and recycling come together: No glass recycling on the weekends because it makes too much noise when you drop it in. Yes... I'm serious.
So overall - what's it like?
There are obviously things i miss about Australia - Sunshine almost all year round, fresh clean air, creative affordable food, and of course - my friends and family. However 2017 was honestly one of the best years of my life. I've learnt some German, been able to travel to some GORGEOUS places with amazing people and got to know so much more about how the Swiss live and enjoy life. Switzerland is a visual feast for the eyes and as a photographer I couldn't be happier. Financially, I am so grateful to Switzerland for giving us opportunity to build our wealth for our futures. It's taken some time to shift perspective from what I'm missing in Switzerland to what I have, but I think ending a year here and being able to reflect on all I've experienced has made me super grateful and 'hashtag-blessed' for all it's given me.
Even though I wrote this blog post after a year, I am still continually surprised by things which are new to me - pleasant surprises and also things which are darn confusing. I'm looking forward to another year of learning and swiss experiences. If you haven't been, Switzerland is definitely worth a visit - let me know if you want any recommendations.