Further Pros and Cons about Living in Switzerland

By FAR one of the most oft search terms that brings people to my blog is the search term "Pros and Cons of living in Switzerland." It brings people to this post from May of last year. In the fall I actually had someone tell me they read my blog because they googled pros and cons of living in Switzerland before they moved here. When I was rereading that post I realized I barely scrapped the surface. I touched on cost of living, everything being closed on Sundays, the distrust some of the Swiss have of foreigner (not ALL the Swiss just some) but there is so much more to living in this country and some of it sucks and some of it rocks.

Pro: You make friends from all over the world. Here is a quick sample of countries that our friends call home, France, Spain, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Italy, Bosnia, Greece, Romania, England, Poland, Scotland, India, Australia, Madagascar....yup. We're like our very own it's a small world after all. It's truly brilliant. I have learned more about geography in the 2.5 years we've been here than I ever did in school (okay...maybe that's because I didn't pay attention much in school...maybe.) I think I know how to toast in at least 4 languages now, I know "Happy Birthday" in about 5 languages and I've tried more kinds of country specific kinds of moonshine than I care to count at the moment. The reason we have a lot of non-Swiss friends? In part because of where my husband works but also there is a HUGE expat population here. Seriously, you can't throw a rock without hitting an expat (or a new kind of cheese you've never heard of.)

Con: It's hard to make Swiss friends. It took my 2.5 years to actually make any actual Swiss friends. I have roller derby to thank for that. I seriously love the Swiss friends we have made (and not just because they could tell me which mountain range I can see from my balcony.) And it's not that the Swiss are like the Mean Girls of Europe or anything. They are very friendly and very nice but they can be very insular. I've been snubbed because I don't speak Swiss German (I speak high German), I've gotten an odd look when I tell them I'm a writer who works from who and doesn't have kids or a dog. And it's not because they're trying to mean they just don't know what to do with the weird high German speaking Canadian girl with no kids, dog or job they don't understand.

Pro: You're so close to everything that people dream about seeing one day!! Seriously. The husband and I are from Manitoba. His home town of Pierson is a 4 hour and 6 minute drive from my home city of Winnipeg (that's 362 kilometers) according to Google maps anyway. Yes, 4 HOURS of driving and you're still in the same province. Yup. But here you want to know what's only a few hours drive away? Milan, Luxembourg, Belgium, Paris, Strasbourg, Salzburg, Lichtenstein and Stuttgart. Other places are a quick, cheap flight away. John and I flew to Nante France for a weekend for less than 200 francs. We've flown to London, Poland, Italy and Germany all for pretty cheap because it's all so close. Okay, about 20 minutes from his hometown is the American Border and in about 6 minutes you can be in the Province of Saskatchewan and while Saskatchewan is home to the Paris of the Prairies (the teeming cosmopolis of Saskatoon) it's no actual Paris (side note: while in Paris last summer John and I definitely felt like we were in the largest city in Saskwatchewan....yeah....totally...)

Yup...I totally get a Saskatchewan vibe...
Con: You're so far from everything that matters most. We haven't seen my husbands siblings in almost 2 years. We have a niece we've never met. We haven't seen our godchildren in almost 2 years. John and I were talking last week that IF we do make it home in December our goddaughter will be half way through the 2nd grade or our niece who we haven't met will be over a year (close to a year and a half) when we do finally meet her. You're even far away from even the little things. I'm really sick right now, John is in Singapore and my mom who makes the best grilled cheese sandwiches (aka grouchy sandwiches) is 7000 kms away. My parents have to settle for worrying about me over the phone. When I told my best friend I was made the head coach of team Switzerland I couldn't hug her. As much as I love being so close to so many awesome things the price of that is being so far away.

Pro: The chocolate, the pastries, the cheese, the seasonal food, the local food, the fondue, the beer, the wine, the everything with melted cheese, the everything. We eat better here than we ever did at home in Canada. And I'm not just talking healthy food (my goodness if our Canadian friends could see how we eat it they would be shocked especially considering I'm known bacon nachos.) But I'm talking quality to. We don't eat much processed food, we eat seasonally and locally. And that's not because it's trendy here like it is at home. That's just how they eat here.

Con: Sometimes, you would kill for something from home. People are shocked when I get excited about cupcakes or donuts (I'm looking at you mom...) Here's the thing, fresh pastries and all the yummy awesome food is NORMAL for us now. They're not a novelty anymore. What IS a novelty...poptarts. We currently have a rain barrel of peanut butter and a case of KD in our cupboard that makes us happier beyond words.

Pro: The Swiss have this wonderful connection to the outdoors. Even those who grew up in the city and it's reflected in the kempt hiking trails, the maps of the skating trails, biking trails, the fact that you see people outside on every single nice day. Even in Winter. I've never seen a crowded hiking path before. Then I moved here.

Con: I HATE being outside. My idea of "outdoorsy" is drinking outside. I've learned to kind of like hiking but it's mostly because of the alpine huts that serve beer along the hiking trails. Plus, I don't ski. I like the idea of skiing...probably because of the chalets that serve boozy hot chocolate and raclette. But I'm learning. I've made it my summer goal to finally go floating in the river here like we've been told to do since the day we landed. Yes, Manitoba friends, we have a river that is safe to swim in...go figure.

Pro: I'm starting to understand Swiss German. Can't speak it. Nope. But understanding is getting A LOT easier. It's only taken 2.5 years but it's better than nothing.

Con: I still get funny looks when I speak high German. BUT that's not my problem.


Sara Louise said…
For me, the biggest pro has to be being so close to so many other amazing cities! I'm going to miss living in Europe :(