|Time flies when you move to Switzerland|
Six years ago this week, the Frau descended on Zurich. At first, the Frau felt like she was on vacation. But then, her husband went to work and this career woman was faced with making him lunch in a country where she didn’t even know the word for milk (or why the grocery carts were attached with chains in a place where people didn’t even lock their bikes). Ms. 4.0-Perfectionist-who-was-once-going-to-conquer-the-world-with-her-brilliance couldn’t even grocery shop. Poor Frau. But also, poor Switzerland.
The Frau wasn’t very nice to Switzerland at first. She couldn’t understand why it wasn’t more like home. The fact that it was a different country didn’t seem like a good enough reason. Little did she know she would go through the whole expat cycle thing like everyone else until she came full circle and started blaming the United States for not being more like Switzerland.
Anyhow, in honor of the Frau’s Swiss six year anniversary, she’d like to talk about the three things that keep her living in Switzerland. Then, in Part II next week, she'll discuss three things that sometimes make her want to stuff a cervelat in it all.
Three Things That Make Her Happy To Finally Have a C-Permit
The Great Outdoors
Switzerland put the "great" in the great outdoors. You can live in the center of a town, like the Frau does, and be in the woods in a matter of minutes. As someone who grew up in Chicago, the Frau never knew it was possible not to have to get in a car to go to the woods. But in Switzerland, you can jump in the lakes and rivers, you can hike in the mountains–even in the winter on beautifully groomed paths, and you can bike in bike lanes almost everywhere in the country—or enjoy summer Sundays when 30 kilometers of road in various parts of the country are shut off to traffic and opened to bikers and rollerbladers.
Things Just Work
Once you come to Switzerland, it’s hard to go anywhere else. Even home. One look at the disaster that is O’Hare Airport, wait 1.5 hours for your luggage, and visit a bathroom that looks like it hasn’t seen a cleaning rag since 1999 and you can’t wait to get back to Zurich where a digital board will tell you that your luggage will be out in 6 minutes and 53 seconds while you admire a toilet so shiny it would give even Mr. Clean a headache.
All of this makes you start to take things for granted. Trains that are scheduled to leave at 8:38 leave at 8:38. People go to lunch exactly at noon and are back at their desks exactly at one (although this still kind of freaks the Frau out). And paper is recycled in such an orderly fashion that the Frau has developed an inferiority complex when it comes to putting her paper out on the curb because her pile, well, it looks just like her: foreign.
People Are Protected
This is a country where everyone has health insurance. This is a country where unemployment protects you for at least a year and a half by paying you 70% of your salary. This is a country where people carry cash instead of credit cards because they actually have money. This is a country where women must be paid at least 80% of their salary during maternity leave for 14 weeks. This is a country where it’s normal to work part-time—even in highly educated, professional positions. If fact, a lot of new parents decide to both work 80%. They are engineers, lawyers, writers. It’s no big deal. And that’s a big deal when it comes to work/life balance.
Stay tuned for "Six years in Switzerland, Part II," where the Frau discusses three things about Switzerland that make her never want to hear an alphorn at a Tunnelfest again.
What keeps you living in Switzerland?