Thursday, July 23, 2015

Does living in Switzerland ruin you for American life?

The Frau sometimes feels like Switzerland has ruined her now American life. For her, repatriation has been hard. Some of it is because she built a big part of her career in Switzerland and so she's still working with a lot of these people and she misses being there. Some of it is because she misses mountains and lakes and trains that take her easily to them. And some of it is just because repatriation is hard. And because the U.S. hasn't exactly done much to improve itself since she was away. If anything, the situation here has gotten much worse for the average person. 

Hotel Giessbach on Lake Brienz
Look, Switzerland isn’t perfect. No country is. But there are so many things that Switzerland does right that the U.S. does not. And these are things that became important to The Frau over the last decade.  Things like work-life balance, public transportation, and easy access to the great outdoors.
  
The Frau wrote about how Switzerland ruined her for American life yesterday on vox.com. The outpouring from readers has been crazy. She still can’t keep up with her inbox. Some wrote to her with stories of their struggles with work-life balance in the U.S. and some of these stories are heartbreaking. Others wanted to know exactly how they can get away to Switzerland too.

But The Frau wants to be clear: Switzerland isn’t always a box of chocolates either. Read her book and you'll find that side of things too. It’s a closed culture, so it can very hard to make friends. The language situation is beyond complicated. And it's hard to be a foreigner anywhere--and Switzerland makes it especially hard for some.

It takes a lot of soul-searching to find the best country for each person. The Frau is on that journey now. In the end, The Frau thinks that the country that is right for you is the one that has the most common with the things you value.


What do you think?

18 comments:

Dominik said...

Seems like you're really missing Switzerland.
Didn't you write in a previous blog that you still have your visa and could come back to Switzerland? Is this still an option for you / Are you still considering it?

Jennifer @ This Off Script Life said...

I'm on a search to find the best city/country for me as well (I'm an American expat in Zurich). While I struggle with the idea of returning to the work-only culture of the U.S., Switzerland doesn't feel like home either (for some of the reasons you mentioned). I guess I'm still searching for that place that tells me "this is where you belong." I hope you find it too. www.thisoffscriptlife.com

Chantal said...

Hi Dominik, yep, still have that permit on hold until next year. Decisions, decisions!

Jennifer, yep, that's exactly The Frau's dilemma too…good luck with your search too.

Dominik said...

I wonder why so many people move to Zurich when they come to Switzerland. I know so many people (Swiss and foreigners) who tell me Zurich is the city they like the least in Switzerland. There's so many other beautiful places here to live in. For instance my Taiwanese friend LOVES Bern (she lives in Zurich) and never wants to go back to Zurich when she comes for a visit to Bern.
I think Zurich is actually quite a bad example for Switzerland, it doesn't really fully represent the country and what it has to offer.

Dominik said...

btw your blog post has been featured in a Swiss newspaper/website: http://www.watson.ch/!627614043

Chantal said...

I think Zurich just has the most amount of jobs to offer foreigners.

und danke for the link...

Hattie said...

I was glad to come back after almost 13 years in Switzerland, and 2 1/2 years in Germany before that, mainly because I was tired of being a foreigner. It's a daily stress that you are not aware of until you aren't experiencing it any more, a matter of constantly having to be on your guard. Especially true in Switzerland, I think, which is, as you say a closed culture which is paradoxically dealing with a large foreign population. So you become a "problem" for the Swiss to "deal with." And who wants to live that way indefinitely?
The geography, climate and culture of where you are now would not suit me at all. Five years in the Midwest was long enough! Hawaii is perfect for me at this time of my life. Anywhere in the West is fine with me, actually. Chantal, you might really like the Pacific Northwest with its scenery and opportunities for outdoor life.

Hattie said...

You have certainly struck a nerve with your Vox piece. Someone put it on my Facebook feed.

William said...

Not sure if you are the author of the Vox article you linked to or not, but there is an error in it. It mentions that the PPP adjusted average earnings in Switzerland is ~$90k, but you misread the chart you linked to. The PPP adjusted earnings was only around ~$50k which is on par with the US.

Chantal said...

Hi Hattie,
For some reason the response was insane. The Frau had no idea people would even care. But she's glad they do! Some of the points are important discussions and maybe some Americans are finally fed up enough to listen to some of them.

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