One year on – My Swissiversary

What can I say, it’s exactly one year today since I came back to Switzerland. A lot can change in a year. There’s been many highlights and some lowlights!

Putting to good use my love of lists – sorry guys, another one – here’s what moving to a new country has helped achieve in the last 12 months.

Finding my purpose in life
A big one. Some don’t believe in life purpose, I do. I’m even bringing my sister round to my ‘hippy stuff’. I was put here do do something and finally I’m doing it. So here’s to writing – for my benefit, to entertain others and even to pay the bills. The best bit is that I know why it took me so long to realise it – it’s the difficulties and awkwardness of my life and my personality that’s given me so much to say!

Rediscovering my creativity
I used to be creative. At school I enjoyed making 3D collages, designing buildings, drawing cartoons and writing poems in my spare time. Then I discovered smoking (now stopped!), drinking and trying to find myself through misguided relationships (creating problems for myself and others along the way), before I remembered what kept me sane in some of the hardest times. Creativity is key and creativity is me. See, even that line is creative!

Learn German
It’s not easy, let me tell you. Apart from the extremely complex grammar; rules that are rules most of the time, but sometimes there’s just a different one and there’s always very long words; German is not the most favoured language amongst my English friends. They aren’t always nice about it, saying it sounds horrible and laughing at me when I get drunk and start replying with ‘ja’ and ‘genau’. But I’m a big fan. German is underrated and I believe, the European language you need aside from English – especially for business. Best of all, once you’ve mastered German, you’ll pretty much walk Dutch and Swedish and practically dance your way through Italian and Spanish. Even French grammar is suddenly appealing. So, I can have my doctor’s appointment half in German, half in English and call the Hauswartung when something breaks at home. A trip to the shops is kein Problem, even when they ask me a question in Schweizerdeutsch. What an achievement in 12 months (though technically I started a bit earlier). I am proud of my Frau-ness!

Learn to love rules
Rules, rules, rules. Switzerland is full of them and unlike the UK, they’re not made to be broken. It’s refreshing sometimes not to question them, to let yourself abide and go with the majority and not fight against the system. Rules can always be broken in other ways, why go public?

Falling in love
With trams, mountains, double-decker trains, saying ‘make a poo’ and other funny German translated to English phrases. Also with Switzerland. It was definitely love at first sight two years ago. Now it’s that lasting type – when you can see the faults as well as the beauty, but you still love it anyway. Tram-tastic even got Part Deux. I just hope the feeling is mutual.

Getting an i-phone
I really needed one. I blog so much more often and take amazing photos of everything. Love it.

Remembering how resourceful you really are
You need to be in Switzerland, it’s expensive. Getting a decent salary reminds you of how much you don’t need it (though it’s not something to complain about). It’s an opportunity to save, not to spend. And as I mentioned in ‘All you need is a great pair of leggings!‘, that’s using your resources wisely.

Starting a Blog
Sorry, two. A huge achievement for me, it was a difficult process to put myself out there – even if only in black and white. But it’s the best thing I’ve ever done and the starting point to the rest of my life. It’s also something I wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t come to live in Switzerland, I’m almost sure of that. Bloglife.

Becoming an entrepreneur
Kind of. I can see it and I will get there, wait and see ;).

Learning that Switzerland is in Europe
Getting off that island in my head was another breakthrough (see ‘Switzerland is in Europe!’). I can see how I fit in the world and what the real opportunities are. It’s metaphorical, but I really was on my own island!

Being direct and loving it
The Big I Am has accused me more than once of being ein bisschen rude since I moved here. But I say, if something’s not clear, make it clear. If something is not right, say so. And most importantly if it’s a spade, call it a spade. In German you have no choice, it means A or it means B – it doesn’t mean something ambiguous in between, maybe A-ish? I love it – life is much more straight forward when you know where you stand. Even better, you don’t experience those awkward moments where you’re trying to say something, but not really saying it or you’re just damn well living on the fence. Sometimes it hurts, sometimes it shocks, but at least it’s alway clear. I say stop apologising!!!!

Getting a tan at home
Getting some sun in summer, in the place you live is a novelty for me. It’s also great for your health and wellbeing. The Swiss and generally not northern Europeans have been complaining about a terrible summer this year. If this is bad, I can’t wait to meet good! Enough said; this really is a summer that would never happen in England!

Getting active without ever visiting a gym
I started swimming in May, outside, three times a week. I walked down a mountain last weekend, I walk everywhere actually. I don’t own a car and I love it – apart from the fact it saves you lots of money, it’s really great not to drive everywhere. In winter I can ski, snow shoe or snowboard (that’d be amusing to watch). I just started swimming inside, as the Badi season has finished and even that is nice. The pools don’t stink of chlorine and everyone showers before they get in. I also learnt to ski.

Earning lots of Airmiles
Maybe not such an achievement, but it’s good to save money on future flights. I just wish there was a greener way to travel. At least I’ve had to face my fear of flying head on!

Learning about the pitfalls and positives of long distance relationships
And there are both. What doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger. You also learn who your friends are and how much they understand you, believe in you and can support your choices.

Enjoy Sundays without shopping
Unheard of at home, I never thought I’d appreciate no shopping on Sunday, now I don’t want it to ever start! It’s still useful when I go home (I feel like a kid in a sweet shop), but it means you stay organised and actually chill out on Sundays!

Learning self-hypnosis
Apart from giving me a great tool to deal with anxiety; practising self-hypnosis has helped me to reconnect with myself on every level. Hence the aforementioned rediscovery of creativity, finding my life purpose and becoming an entrepreneur (to be). Read more in ‘Hypnotise Me!‘.

Meeting great people
I’ve met so many great people, from so many different places. Diversity is enriching, but even more when people share experiences and cultural identity. People are what make the world go round – all different types of people. Living in a different country has helped me feel more connected to people than ever before, as I’m not only seeing things from my native cultural perspective.

Finding out the wonders of electric blinds and storage spaces in apartments
The Swiss really know how to build great places to live!

That’s the end of a very long list! I’ve come a long way and I’ve further to go. But before I go, here are my hopes for year two.

– Build a successful business…. or two
– Learn some acrobatics – preferably a dance version
– Learn to ski a red run without stopping or being scared!
– Travel Europe – since I’m in it
– Be proud to put ‘intermediate’ or even ‘advanced’ on my CV for German language skills
– Have my doctors appointments ALL in German
– Write my first book
– Paraglide or something similar over the Alps
– Swim 1 kilometre instead of 500 metres each time I go swimming
– Learn to do front crawl and put my head under water!

I think that’s it. It’s going to be another exciting year 🙂

You might like ‘Ideas at Dawn‘, ‘A lesson in blogging‘, ‘You really can learn something new everyday….’ and ‘The Edge of Reason‘. If you liked this post, please like it or leave a comment 🙂

You can also follow my communication and business blog ‘it’s all about the journey‘.

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4 responses to “One year on – My Swissiversary

  1. Great post! Now that I’m about to live Switzerland after 3 beautiful years, I can see that i learned similar lessons. Especially “Learn to love rules” and “rediscover my creativity”. I have a love-hate relationship with rules but it’s getting better when i see how much easier life is when everyone respects them.

    i also lost touch with my creative side for a while. I can’t really say Switzerland played a role in my reconnection with it. Or maybe earning decent money, living in a comfortable place and having enough free-time helped create the space necessary for blogging, drawing and all things creative.

  2. You’re so right about German being an ace language – although after six years, I’ve fizzled out with my enthusiasm for study, which is a bit naughty. And I just can’t get used to be direct – I like a bit of English ambivalence 🙂 It’s great to read a really positive account of expat life, best Jo

    • Thanks Jo! I’m sure of I’m still learning after 6 years I’ll be feeling the same – it’s so hard!!! I loved reading you blog yesterday, I miss my small nieces and nephews and your posts made me smile inside! 🙂

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