Thursday, October 22, 2015

The big visit to Zurich

Gr├╝ezi, People.

The Frau is in Zurich. After a year away, The Frau is back for a visit.

And you know what? She thought she might feel like a tourist, but instead Zurich feels like home. It feels like she never left. It feels like Switzerland is embracing The Frau and The Frau is embracing Switzerland.

So far she's given a reading, gone to her first Swiss wedding, hiked the Alps, gone to two spas, done some writing and copywriting, visited old colleagues and friends, and most importantly, discussed construction schedules and tunnel transport with her old Swiss neighbor over 30+ slices of Raclette.

While visiting old friends in Zurich the other night, The Frau tried to explain to other expats how hard it is to make new friends with Americans back home. 

You know, those friendly, ever-smiling Americans. 

The problem is, once you tell your life story to the average American, and your life story comes to the part about living abroad, suddenly, their eyes gloss over. 

They can't relate to you at all. 

"Oh, you lived in Sweden?" they'll say. "That's nice."

End of story. The average American doesn't want to hear any more.

This is hard for the repatriate, who can't wait to share their experiences.

But until it was recently required for Americans to have passports to go to Canada or a Caribbean island, only 10% of Americans had passports (now 20% do). But still. About nine out of ten Americans can't relate to a repatriate at all.

At one point a few months ago in Chicago, The Frau's husband exclaimed over another American's bumper sticker. It said "CH." 

"Wow," said Mr. Frau. "Switzerland! What connection do you have to it?"

The other American looked at him confused. "What? The CH is for Clarendon Hills," he said.

Clarendon Hills is a Chicago suburb.

So there it is. The hardest part about being home. While your world is big, most Americans' worlds aren't. 

Coming back to the big, wide world solves this.

Needless to say, it's good to be back. 


pinguino said...

I'm not american but Italian and it happens to me always with Americans that when I say i'm Italian, every asked me if I live in Rome, not all the Italians live in Rome ­čśé it's so, for Americans Europe is too small, so Italy is Rome and CH doesn't exist, maybe is a suburb of autria and Germany ­čśë

Charlotte said...

I wonder how many of your Swiss friends have asked you about your life back in Chicago. I found that Swiss people were just as interested in my life in America as my American friends were of my life in Switzerland. Which is to say, not too much on either side.

Anonymous said...

I think Charlotte is right......the interest for other peoples lifes abroad comes with having lived the same experience. That is the same everywhere on earth.

How did you like the outcome of the Swiss election?

Anonymous said...

Oh, I also agree with Charlotte. Switzerland is a much smaller country than the US, and yet you can't say that people here are always terribly interested in what's happening across the (not so far away) borders. It's great you're enjoying your time back in your Swiss 'home.' It's a wonderful country, and I think most Swiss are similarly Swiss-centric as Americans are US-centric, which is not entirely a bad thing.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

The grass is often greener no matter from where one is, I know enough Swiss and other Europeans who love/loved their experiences living in the States. Also depends where one lives, in suburbia from what I've seen people tend to be in their own little worlds (more of that keeping up with the Joneses business) while in proper cities (generalizing) people tend to have a somewhat broader view of the world.

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Lifehungry said...

I visited Zurich for the first time this weekend and I am absolutely in love! You are so lucky to have lived in Switzerland for a while :) I was so inspired I even wrote about the great hike I did from Uetliberg to Felsenegg, which had awesome views of Zurich. Hope you get to make it back again!

Unknown said...

I agree! Trying to re/connect with people back home in the states gets harder and harder. They totally don't relate, understand or want to learn more about life abroad. The convo always died when I brought up my life in CH (Switzerland) and I'm so happy to hear that I'm not the only one!

Chantal said...

Ashley, you made The Frau's day.

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