I’m a little late with this blog - so much so, it’s almost 2 and a half years now! This last year has really flown by since my 1 year anniversary blog post: An Australians experience living in Switzerland. I wanted to again - stop and reflect for a moment on our current circumstances - on the good we have here, and also the frustrating things I encounter here too. I won’t repeat what i wrote in my first blog post (linked above) but they still ring very true so check it out. So here’s a little summary on what’s on my mind two years in from my big move to Switzerland.
Having a baby in Switzerland
To be honest not a whole lot has changed circumstantially for us here, apart from the fact we’ll be welcoming our first baby (a girl) here in June! It’s an exciting time for us, an adventure of a different kind. It’s brought up all different thoughts for me in terms of what it will be like for this little girl to grow up here in Switzerland. For me, I always envisioned having a family in Australia, having a similar childhood to my own. I never anticipated, even a few years back, that i would be having a baby in another country and that baby will be bilingual and whose first culture will be different to my own. I went through all the emotions when I first got pregnant (i’m mostly going to blame all the hormones here) but I was grieving, not only for the childhood i thought my daughter would have in Australia close by to my family, but also at how I envisioned my own motherhood journey to be - a place supported by my family and friends, a place where i felt comfortable, and knew what activities were available to kids. Essentially, in Australia, I know exactly what that time in my/our lives would look like. But here, it is relatively unknown. I still don’t have many close friends here, even less that are mothers, there are only a limited amount of activities for kids in English (where i’d be most comfortable without Patrick), and a medical system I am relatively unfamiliar with. I do have a fear that i will feel isolated here and to be honest, that fear could very well be realised.
But like with homesickness, I really feel like perspective and gratitude is that only thing that can get us through these moments. I need to choose to see all the positives we have by being here, because:
This daughter will be bi-lingual - I don’t know how many times I wished i was exposed to another language from birth. Bi-lingual kids put in all the hard work before they even realise it, and will reap the benefits of two languages for their whole life.
She’ll have two passports - some may say they are the worlds most coveted (might be biased here). She will always have the choice of these two beautiful countries. She will always feel more at home in Switzerland than I ever will - she’ll know the language and culture natively.
I can stay at home with her with less financial worries than we would in Australia. A privilege that is becoming less and less common in todays society. Switzerland is giving us an amazing gift of financial freedom and one that I don’t take lightly. It will mean that one day we can return to Australia and be in a very good position, and give our child/ren a good head start.
We can do all these amazing short trips together- showing her the world when she is young. I believe travel is one of our greatest teachers of compassion, open-mindedness and tolerance (amongst many other things) and above all my wishes for my her - I hope she is kind and compassionate.
Nothing is ever 100% perfect no matter where you live, and you have to choose to see the good in any situation. I do get sad, anxious and stressed about my worries of the unknown sometimes, but the most important thing is that i come back to the positives before my worries do too much damage.
The medical care here in Switzerland is amazing and a little different from Australia - I think this is something i’ll talk more about after the baby is here.
Swiss Postal Delivery
As everyone knows, living in Switzerland is expensive - everything costs more - so naturally, people go online to find products. I also go online because Switzerland doesn’t have much variety. When I was in Australia, i used to think living in Europe would be so much better in terms of shopping - more variety, less cost etc. But I was wrong. I am still frequently buying things from America, Australia or the UK. And because Switzerland needs more money (insert eye roll), they apply customs charges to everything!! I might buy something for $80, then pay $20 postage, and then when it gets to Switzerland, I have to pay an extra CHF20-40 (AU$30-60) just to receive it! There are some rules around it (and a few exceptions), but it’s pretty complex so it’s hard to know if you’ll get hit by it and by how much. We also found problems in getting things shipped to Switzerland because Switzerland is not technically part of the EU, so often times they won’t even post here! Don’t worry, we have a work around - we have a mailbox in Germany and we get things shipped there instead. I still find it weird though that we have no problems in receiving things in Germany which is less than 5 minutes away from our apartment.
Politeness to the extreme
Swiss politeness is a little strange. Even though the swiss don’t like queuing, they push in to get on the bus and tram before people get off, and leave passive aggressive notes to their neighbours, when it comes to saying ‘En guete’ (equivalent to ‘bon apetit’) and 'Gesundheit’ (equivalent to ‘bless you’) they are 1000% committed. I was in the supermarket and seemingly alone when I sneezed. I heard a “gesundheit” shouted at me from a few aisles down. At every meal with others, you could be at Maccas or a 5 star restaurant, the swiss will wish you ‘En guete’. Patrick told me that when he enjoyed a 4 course meal with co-workers recently, they wished each other ‘En guete’ at every course! Haha. No… too much for me. I think in Australia its just a “2, 4,6,8.. dig in, don’t wait”.
Bread vs Toast
It’s a little thing really… but kind of strange to an aussie. They don’t really toast bread here - I’m sure people have toasters at home, but if you’re out at a cafe or the supermarket - when they sell ‘toast’ it really just means pre-packaged bread. It’s taken me some time to get used to the fact that i will probably never get a piece of toast with my scrambled eggs at a cafe (thats the one of two places they actually sell scrambled eggs!). as they just bring you regular untoasted bread, even if it says toast.
Also - how can you call it toast when its not technically toasted? Its like selling bottled water as ice…
I can already feel myself noticing less ‘weird’ things about Switzerland now. Its becoming a normal way of life - the church bells blend into the normal living sounds, catching the trams/busses is my normal life (i’m only annoyed when its cold and rainy!) and I can easily walk past the old buildings in the ‘altstadt’ without taking a picture each and every time!
I’m not sure it will ever feel like ‘home’ here - without as much independence, sunny weather and english speakers…. But i’m grateful for the experience of being here everyday. Not many people in Australia have the pleasure or opportunity to live in Europe (much less Switzerland) for an extended period of time. It has taught me much about culture, history and beauty.