By now, you’ve probably heard this phrase gazillion times and by now, you have probably warmed up to the new normal. In this article, I present to your different definitions of the “new normal” across countries, cultures, and situations.
Pragati Siddhanti, Founder – My Swiss Story, Basel, Switzerland
The new normal in Switzerland looks quite similar to the regular normal. When I walk down Freistraase, I see more people than I did last summer. I see the beautiful girls, the lovely summer dresses, I see lines outside ZARA and I see the huge signs of SALES. I also splurge, it has been a long time! To be honest, this is my favorite street in town, and walking down the lane gives me a sense of relief even if temporary.
I am still working from home, and like everything else in life it has, it’s pros and cons. I do everything virtually now – have discussions with my colleagues, run meetings and we also have working sessions. WFH has offered me a lot of flexibility – the lines between personal and professional have blurred and a lot is simultaneous. Sometimes I take a lunch break or an afternoon off, to spend time with my daughter and sometimes I just work after dinner. The negatives of this – your laptop is always open, it is business as usual.
We wear masks on public transport and carry hand sanitizer; it is not abnormal anymore but still uncomfortable (those masks). I always count my blessings, cuz I know people back home (India) are still under lockdown, not a forced one anymore it’s converted to a voluntary one. My family is doing well, but now we are longing to meet each other.
COVID has been an unexpected uninvited teacher; it has allowed us to experience and appreciate things that we took for granted. However, I hope the world learns and moves on – I hope to be able to hug my friends, travel the world, and reunite with my family members soon enough.
Name withheld, Bern, Switzerland
“The New Normal” – This phrase was mostly unheard of before coronavirus emerged. However, for me, it’s not the first time I’ve applied this phrase to my life. Almost ten years ago, I was diagnosed with a degenerative, chronic illness for which there is currently no cure. “The New Normal” is a commonly used phrase amongst the chronically ill as we constantly adapt and change our lifestyles to take into account our illnesses. Additionally, during the winter, I take extra precautions anyway to avoid catching whichever bug is doing the rounds – hygiene measures aren’t new to me. So I was probably better placed than most when Covid-19 came along, to reassess how best to manage this unprecedented situation. However, what I hadn’t bargained for was it coming along at a time when I was also adapting to being a first-time mum and struggling with mental health issues. My overwhelming need to protect myself and my family, as we are considered a vulnerable household, has become all-consuming.
I felt safer during the lockdown in my bubble at home with my husband and baby. Post-lockdown, the outside is a scary place for me, so my priority remains staying at home. If there is a way to avoid leaving the house, I will find it. Medical appointments are done remotely where possible. Almost all our shopping is done online, with parcels being received wearing plastic gloves and quarantined before opening. We no longer go to restaurants, shopping centers, or leisure venues. I don’t meet friends to introduce them to our baby but instead, keep in touch remotely via video calls and social media. As the lockdown was relaxed, I started having anxiety attacks on a frequent basis so counseling is now a regular feature of my week to try to manage the impact on my mental health. Recently, I have forced myself to go for walks so my curious baby can see there’s a world bigger than our home. They don’t give me pleasure like they used to though, as I’m hyper-vigilant to avoid anyone coming in our path. The biggest change for me is that simple, everyday tasks now take much longer as I calculate risk, assess what precautions need to be taken, and then carry out the task. It’s exhausting but I do it to keep us safe.
This pandemic has most definitely made an indelible mark on my lifestyle.
Indu Bala Grover, Stillwater, Oklahoma
I always take pride in living in America’s friendliest college town, the Oklahoma state, where smiles from strangers is a way of life. I couldn’t imagine that life was so beautiful just a few months ago. And suddenly things started changing towards the end of Feb. and Corona became the center of life. In a very short span of time, my whole world (work, social, personal, spiritual life) shifted to the online platform. Things took a while to settle in and understand what exactly is happening and why. In Oklahoma state, it was never a complete lockdown, but all non-essential businesses were closed for a few weeks. Since the initial reopening, I have seen the trend that businesses are opening for a week and going into quarantine for two-weeks. I am so amazed to see that people’s opinions are so divided over wearing masks. No wonder, individualism, and exceptionalism speak volumes here. Life has become so uncertain, disruptive, and invisible clouds of corona are always hanging in amidst this new normal. As such, there is no social life, the only activity that keeps me entertained these days is going to hikes in nature and bird watching. And for my soul comfort and peace, I take refuge in my practice of ‘Nichiren Buddhism’, which gives me the courage to challenge the current situation and see the silver lining over the cloud.
Sara Mobarhanfard, Founder of NAROSIB, St Gallen, Switzerland
Switzerland is home to me, but I have family members, friends, and work contacts all over the world. Traveling has always been an integral part of my life before lockdown. I used to carry this big tote full of almost everything with me all the time, going from one place to another. In the last couple of years, I had found joy in driving less and turning Swiss public transport into my mobile office. This all came to an end sometime mid-March this year.
The new normal for me so far means working from home all the time and not needing to plan a trip to anywhere. I actually like this. I have been chatting with my family and friend more than ever and I was reminded how much I love them all. I have found the quiet time nourishing for my introvert soul. I finally had the chance to press pause, stay still and reflect (I did have my share of mindlessly following the statistics on the
The silk factories in Italy I work with, stopped production for a while, and getting new products on time is still a challenge, so I was forced to make some pivotal changes to my business. I can’t wait to launch the updated version of NAROSIB that is serving the world better. There will be new content and products and it will hopefully be more sustainable. I won’t be making masks but I promise they make something as useful!
These days I find it strange that I can’t hug that old friend or family member I am meeting after months. Seeing my loved ones only through a screen is not enough. Disinfecting grocery shopping takes so much time. My hands are always dry and I don’t know when I can finally see my family next.
An expat’s life is not designed for closed borders. But this shall pass too!
Ali Mackinnon, Marketing Coordinator, Zurich, Switzerland
Adapting to the “new normal” has been a challenge for HealthFirst, the company I work for; as we provide hands-on, practical First Aid training courses. Until COVID struck we were training many thousands of people throughout Switzerland in all aspects of First Aid including CPR and wound dressing, which necessarily meant lots of human and manikin contact. Imagine a room with 12 participants and 12 manikins plus one trainer and you can see how difficult implementing the new rules have been. We now have to consider the size of the room, the safety of the participants and trainer, and above all, how to deliver a course that fulfills its objectives of learning about and practicing resuscitation techniques. Add to that the requirements of the authorizing bodies for whom we deliver the obligatory Swiss Driving Licence First Aid course and you can see that we have had to make any changes.
Our company runs a team of highly qualified midwives and nurses, all of whom have spent many hours adapting the courses to fit the new protocols. The amount of PPE and other equipment that has been ordered is huge and has consequently had a financial impact on the company too as we were unable to deliver courses for the best part of three months. After much work, we now deliver these courses LIVE online and are confidently providing many corporate and public courses that are proving to be in high demand, particularly from companies who are concerned for the mental health of their employees.
It has been a rollercoaster, as for many companies I am sure but the unique demands placed on a small company like ours are challenging. Luckily we are back on track for now but for how long? None of us knows.
Often, we are stuck up in our own world, our own cocoon of never ending emotions and situations. However, when you look around, there is always so much to learn. Women from different situations, cultures and lines of business opened up about their “new normal” in this article.
What does your new normal look like?
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