Thursday, June 01, 2017

Goods and Bads of Life in Switzerland, 2.5 Years Later

There were times during The Frau’s visit to Switzerland last month (mostly when she was in the city relishing that EVERY car actually stopped for EVERY pedestrian) when she really wanted to move back. Like really, really wanted to move back. Especially when she saw Swiss children as young as her daughter confidently walking alone to school. Or when she sat on a bus seat without any disgust at its level of cleanliness.

And then there were moments, mainly when The Frau was sweating in small shared spaces or listening to her friends’ neighbor’s televisions through shared walls, where The Frau just sighed and said to Mr. Frau: ”Wow. I really, really do not miss this.”

The take away? There are goods and bads in every country. It’s up to you to decide what goods and bads are best for you.

Back in Switzerland, 2.5 years after leaving.
But The Frau admits: she couldn’t help but feel envious of her American friends who moved to Switzerland when she did who are now in the process of applying for their Swiss passports. This is mainly because another passport represents a level of freedom to move between countries that would be wonderful. Relying on varying whims of employers and governments is not so wonderful. In any case, The Frau would love to have more options in her life rather than fewer. But her nationality options are what they are right now.

In any case, her trip proved she wants to be living abroad again, or at the very least, spending her summers in Europe. After all, what’s the point of working remotely like The Frau does now if you don’t take advantage of a little country hopping—even if it has to be limited by tourist visas?

In any case, here is an Unscientific Summary of Swiss Life, 2.5 years after living there:


Cities built for pedestrians instead of cars (pedestrian bridges, pedestrian tunnels, and crosswalks that cars actually respect). All seem so amazing now.
Swimming in Lake Zurich
Transport that works (except when the power goes out during a storm!)
Cleanliness, both on the ground and in the air
Nature integrated in cities
The coffee
The bread
The cheese
The chocolate
Produce that’s just produce and not a sci-fi experiment (i.e. not on steroids)
The pure beauty of the landscapes
SlowUp bike rides that close roads to cars almost every Sunday from April through September for pure (and free) biking pleasure (In Chicago, they do this once a year on Lake Shore Drive, but they make bikers PAY for the priviledge of riding on roads normally reserved for cars. Sad.)


Small apartments
Hot apartments
Hot public transport
Crowded public transport
Pushy, rude people who aren’t at all “sorry” for crashing into you
People cutting in line
Living with neighbors/Shared walls
Shared laundry/Laundry days/Small washers
Swiss German
That foreign feeling

Here’s the big thing: after being back in the U.S. for 2.5 years now, The Frau knows that you cannot truly be integrated into a culture and society unless you’re born into it. She admits—she feels very alive in the U.S. right now. When you understand the culture and the language because, well, it’s yours, the way you live and experience things is on a much different level.

Also: While The Frau sees the goods and bads of Switzerland and the U.S. at heightened levels—as horrible as it is sometimes when looking at the bads of a place with a 360 view—she will always be grateful for such a wide lens of the world. (Every American leader should be required to have lived the real deal abroad—but that’s another topic.)

In any case, The Frau had to unexpectedly digest a tear when taking off from Zurich a few days ago. But Chicago greeted her 12 hours later with a rainbow as if to say, “Welcome home—remember—there are beautiful things here too.”


Anonymous said...

You clearly have not been on all that many bus seats in Switzerland, or you need your vision checked. Some of the bus seats I see in Switzerland are so filthy I take the risk of standing and holding on for dear life even when the driver thinks that he's Michele Calzolaio.

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Anonymous said...

On the flip side after now living in Zuri for the last 2.5 years I still do not understand and miss american radio station programming...unlike the radio stations in the U.S which have understandable genres i.e. classic rock, Top 40, etc...Switzerland has no method to the madness with the music they play..I noted on a recent trip to the gym that the radio station jumped from ace of base to eric caption unplugged to the theme song from the movie xanadu to some german rap switzerland...

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Paspic Seo said...

Come'on... no country is perfect, we try to make it perfect. but this post will definitely be helpful for those who are planning a trip. Don't forget to check your passport photo before leaving...

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