I came upon your blog as I was researching life in Switzerland. I wanted to know if you miss living in the U.S. and if you have intentions of moving back? Selfishly, as a mother with an only child who might end up living in Europe, do you miss your mom and family? I hope my child does not decide to stay over in Europe. I did travel there for work but would not want to live there as I have a large family here.
Thanks for your answer.
Dear American Mom,
Originally the Frau came to Switzerland for three years with the full intention of moving back to the U.S. in 2009. It’s now 2011 and she’s still in Switzerland. There are many reasons for this, including that she and her husband have good jobs here, they enjoy the outdoorsy lifestyle, and until the baby came along, the travel opportunities.
Does she miss the U.S.? Well, she misses her family, the friendly people, the affordable food, and owning a house. But she doesn't miss her car, the crazy work hours, or the endless strip malls.
Are her parents disappointed she’s still here? Yes, of course. Especially considering there’s a grandchild in the mix now too. Does the grandchild change things? Perhaps. Time will tell. After all, Skype video calls only bridge the distance so much. And of course she misses her family. That’s hands-down the hardest part about living abroad. But consider this:
The Frau sees her family more now than she ever did when she was living in Virginia and they were in Illinois. When she was in Virginia, she had two weeks of vacation time a year. Her parents would come visit for a four-day weekend and she would come home for Christmas for a few days, but that was about it. She often worked weekends and basically had no life except for her job. Now she has five weeks of vacation and is living in a culture that accepts that a new mother might want to take six months of maternity leave instead of the standard three. In addition to her husband's six weeks of vacation time, her husband’s boss didn’t blink twice when he asked for an additional three weeks of unpaid paternity leave so he could be there for his new daughter and also have a week off when his mother visits.
In the last year, The Frau has seen her family more than ever. She was home at Christmas for two weeks. Her family was here in June for two weeks. Her father was here in September for a week, and her parents are coming back in December for two and a half weeks.
This is not to say that getting together does not require time, effort, and money for expensive long-haul flight tickets. And of course it’s not ideal to spend so much time together in big blocks with so much space in between visits. But unless the Frau and her parents lived in the same town in the U.S., she doesn’t know how the situation would be much different, except perhaps mentally knowing they were all living in the same country.
The Frau hopes this helps. Anyone else want to chime in on the topic of being far from family and how they cope?