Huge thank you to all who read Maureen's perspective on living abroad. I think I will have to do a follow up interview with her in 6 months or so to see if or how her perceptions have changed. Stay tuned...
In the meantime, Joe has agreed to share his experiences living in Switzerland. He, too, felt most comfortable being interviewed. Take it away, Joe:
|Isn't he handsome? Hubba-hubba...|
Joe: Green! When we first flew into Switzerland I couldn't believe how pretty it is. Rolling hills. Water everywhere. And SO MUCH GREEN! It is VERY different from the Tucson desert that we were used to. Even the Zurich airport was clean, pretty and surrounded by green.
Once here I was struck by the proximity of apartment buildings and small dairy farms. It's common for cows to be grazing right up next to apartment complexes!
It was also pretty evident that I was a foreigner here. Not all Swiss are friendly and not all of them like foreigners, particularly American foreigners. I'm sure that a guy in our first apartment building repeatedly cussed me out in German, but we were so new here that I didn't understand a word.* Sometimes ignorance is bliss!
Me: Now that you've been here 3 months, have your impressions changed? How?
Joe: The green is still here. The cows are, too. :)
I've spent considerable time on the Swiss trains and have grown to appreciate ubiquitous, efficient, public transportation. I haven't driven a car since we arrived here and to be honest, I don't miss it.
Me: What are the things you like most about living in Switzerland so far?
Joe: We left Tucson in July, so the weather is high on that list. It's moving into winter here now so I may change my tune, but cool weather has really felt like a blessing. I love the trains, the beautiful mountains, the old town architecture, water, and the color green!
|Tower in Altstadt Zug. (old town)|
I also love that Switzerland is a dog friendly place. We have brought Smidgey in retail establishments and even restaurants. Nobody bats an eyelash. There are also pet waste stations, with and unlimited supply of poopy bags, EVERYWHERE in Switzerland. We've even seen them in somewhat remote, rural areas. That takes a lot of the stress out of dog walking.
But my favorite part of living in Switzerland is that Bridget, Maureen, and Smidgey are here with me.
Me:What things don't you like about living in Switzerland?
Joe: Colleen is too far away. :( Maybe she'll decide to go to school in Europe someday. :)
Also, dogs off leash! Some people are just so sure that their dog is perfect that they can't bring themselves to put it on a leash. Unfortunately, the world also has Smidgey. Note: if your dog meets Smidgey it will not go well - even if it's in Switzerland.
|Does this face look ferocious to you?|
Another big one is the cost of food. The cost of food in the grocery store is quite high - at least twice what we were used to paying in the US. Going out to eat is almost unaffordable. A cup of coffee at the local Starbucks (yep, they are here too) is 6CHF!!
Me:What part of this transition has been the hardest?
Joe: Language. I can get by at work, and in town, with my unfortunate English-only language skill set, but not speaking the local language is a constant source of stress. We are all studying German, but I am definitely not capable of participating in a German language conversation yet. The sounds of Swiss German spoken complicates things even more. I look forward to the day when it feels somewhat natural to make small talk in German!
|In brain overload practicing DuoLingo during commute.|
Me: What advice would you give someone considering an across the world move? Any pitfalls they might want to avoid?
Joe: I strongly encourage anyone to jump at the opportunity to live abroad. There is so much to experience, learn about and appreciate. I think that expecting to learn a significant amount about the new language before arriving in the new country is unrealistic. If you have the chance, maybe arrange to take a few months long intensive language course immediately after arriving in the new country.
Me: How do you like your new job? What are your favorite parts?
Joe: Roche is a great company and the Rotkreuz campus is fabulous. The people work hard, are smart and friendly. We do important work and we are given the resources to get the job done. Oh, and there is an unlimited supply of Nespresso!
Me: What do you miss about Tucson?
Joe: Colleen, old friends, and the Fry's grocery store on Grant & Swan. Oh yeah, and cheap hair cuts.
Me: What do you think about the weather in Switzerland?
Joe: So far, so good. The cold is coming, but it hasn't been bad yet. The cool, crisp air feels good after living in the desert for a while. And there is something relaxing about the frequent rains.
Me: Moving to a new country is a brave thing to do. Do you have any other ambitious goals you want to accomplish while living abroad?
Joe: I really want to learn German to the extent that I feel like I am a real part of this society, not just a visitor. And then maybe I will want to go do it again somewhere else!
*The guy from our first flat was friends with the people who lived above us and would knock on our ceiling when we laughed or coughed too loud. Friendly neighbors much?
Thank you, Joe, for sharing your 'wild ride' with us!
Here is a love limerick for my Joe:
There once was a man named Joe
I'm so lucky he is my beau
Day after day
Together we stay
Our love continues to grow
©2017, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.