Welcome back to our final feature in the series My Swiss Life.
I’ve had such a fun time doing these posts, there’s so much to share, I was quite unaware of it. So we conclude this series with an interview: what works, what’s great and what requires improvement.
What were some of my expectations when I moved to Switzerland. Were they met?
When I moved to Basel, I thought I was completely aware of the pros and the cons. I knew I could expect a beautiful and safe environment. I knew I wouldn’t have helpers and I thought it will not be easy to settle down. I was right: Basel turned out to be small, quaint and beautiful. It is safe and no one bothers you. It is a great place to raise a family. Help is available but comes at a heavy hourly rate. 🙂
What was your worst fear about moving to Switzerland?
Having lived most of my life in Delhi and Bangalore (India), there was a slight hesitation in not being able to adapt to a new lifestyle or probably fit in.
Do you think discrimination exists?
If I ever had the slightest inkling that discrimination existed, I wouldn’t have moved.
To answer the question, yes, discrimination does exist.
It is not out there, staring at you but it is present in the undertones of the society. Be it school, job hunts, blogger collaborations, even very simple things can carry a hint of it. More than anything it’s a vibe that you feel but cannot pinpoint.
How is the weather in Basel? Are you looking forward to Swiss Winters?
When we moved to Basel, it was the summer season and Switzerland was flocked with tourists. Apart from certain bouts of rain showers: it was quite hot. The sun was harsher than I expected and not having fans (forget about air conditioning that I’m so used to) it was sometimes, even, unpleasant. Of course we had the table fans which were a relief.
But winter is coming. The temperatures soar down to -10 degrees which is not normal for me. So, maybe after a year. I will get used to the snowy streets and the mulled wine it brings with it.
What about the people in general?
The people is Switzerland are not intrusive, to the extent that they never bother you unless you specifically ask for some support/assistance. They are not the most social and they prefer to hang out in their already existing social circles. They are usually not looking to make more social bondings.
Was moving to Switzerland a culture shock?
Not a shock, but a transformation for sure. Indians do things differently, our behaviour and decorum is different and you never know if what you did/say was interpreted in an offensive fashion. It is a task to observe people and adapt to the new setting. And one of the most positive examples, is the trust factor. Be it the invoices or the tram tickets, everyone assumes that everyone will do the right thing. This is something that I was pleasantly surprised with.
Do you miss your family and friends?
Immensely. A new country, with minimal social connections – one is bound to miss the emotional connect and already existing bonds. However, I have been super busy from the moment I landed here so that it makes it a lot more easier.
What about the language?
The Swiss speak “Swiss German” which is also German with a relaxed grammar. It is no doubt a difficult language, and I have all the intent to learn it. But to learn German even for business conduct takes about 3 years. People are quite impressed if you can speak it and not amused when you don’t know it. It also becomes a deciding factor during job hunts.
What about travelling? Have you explored Switzerland?
Since the settling in period was so stressful and is still not done, we didn’t travel as much as I’d like to. A couple of day trips to Zurich, Geneva and Lorrach is all that I have done so far. The country is beautiful and it is highly recommended to visit. However, it’s a different thing, to travel when you are on a holiday and to actually explore a place while you live there. Hence, if your motivation for moving is somehow travelling, then it’s mythical and you’re in for a disappointment.
How is raising a child in Switzerland vs India?
Both of them have their own pros and cons. In India, you don’t have to try too hard to inculcate your culture, abroad one has to try much harder. In India, her outings were limited to malls, now she goes to forests, day trips and strawberry picking. In India, she would see a lot of Netflix and she still does that in Switzerland. In Basel, I get to spend so much more time with her and that is the best part!
What is the biggest benefit about being in Switzerland?
I am in an extremely safe environment. I don’t have to be concerned and worried about not being able to live the way I want to. To me that is what brought me here and will keep me here for some more years.
How has my lifestyle changed?
I walk a lot, and it is a lot of physical hardship. There are days when I just give up and there are days when I am still raring to go. The clothes I wear are different and the food that I eat is also different. Different is not always good. I go to college 3 days a week and I find it just about okay. I am proud of the things I am doing but on somedays fatigue and stress takes over. It is how life is supposed to be: ups and downs and with highs and lows.
I tried to cover everything that I thought would be important. It’s still just been 4 months – I might need to do this interview again – maybe after a year.
Please leave your questions, thoughts and perspectives in the comments section.