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Old 02.11.2011, 14:38
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"Slightly" xenophobic comments from the Swiss people

Hello again,

Yesterday during my evening conversation with my Swiss landlady, we were just talking about the people moving from their countries to the other ones. I quoted a friend of mine, who is Swiss and wishes to install in Bulgaria. Then she suddendly asked me, with a smile, when I would think to move back to my own country. I was mortified. My landlady has an adopted Asian 10-years old grandchild and I regret I didin't ask her ironically when she would be able to send him back. A couple of months before she asked the same and I explained het I wouldn't go back to my home country, for many reasons. I don't know whether that is due to her age (she is above 70) or lack of security - Swiss women are very unsecure and, I think, backstabbers. A couple of weeks ago, she mentioned that her cousin, a father of three, lost a job. Maybe it bothers her that the foreigners are able to secure jobs. I try to explore the professional opportunities in Switzerland instead of complaining about the country, there are many opportunities here and it hurts me, because no matter how hard you work in a foreign country, the native people perceive your experience and stay as a shallow and intend to pressurize you to quit.
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Old 02.11.2011, 14:43
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Re: "Slightly" xenophobic comments from the Swiss people

I think you're reading more into this than you realise. She was possibly being polite. Isn't it the same as asking "How long do you think you'll stay in Switzerland?". I don't see that as being xenophobic, a little nosey maybe, but not xenophobic.
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Old 02.11.2011, 14:44
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Re: "Slightly" xenophobic comments from the Swiss people

I don't find the question "When are you going back to your home country" xenophobic per se. Unless there were implications in the rest of the conversation, I also ask some other EFrs when/whether they are going back. It has no xenophobic intention. I think it's natural for people to assume you miss your home country, your family members that got left behind, your own culture. If you don't intend to go back, you can just simply say so.



I find it a quite innocent question. But I wasn't there to hear the intonation or the rest of the conversation.
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Old 02.11.2011, 14:50
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Re: "Slightly" xenophobic comments from the Swiss people

Are you sure that she was not just making conversation? The reality is that here in Switzerland, many foreigners are indeed here for just a short while. As an expat, a standard question I hear from almost everyone is, "How long will you be here?"

Or perhaps what she was asking was lost in translation just a bit? IMO it doesn't sound like she was being hostile or trying to imply that you should leave, from what you relayed of the conversation. Maybe she was curious about whether or not you would ever consider going back and wished to ask about your feelings on the subject.

I think you should be careful about generalizing about Swiss women being "insecure and backstabbing" as well. I don't understand what about her asking whether you are planning to move back to your home country would indicate that she is such.
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Old 02.11.2011, 14:58
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Re: "Slightly" xenophobic comments from the Swiss people

I appreciate your comments but I disagree with you. I was born in Poland and the comments annoy me. Generally people know that economical situation in Poland is worse than in Greece but they think I should return to that shambo anyway, so that they can feel good because I will be underachieving for the rest of my life. If you met a professional i.e. from Ethiopia who has achieved a lot in Switzerland, the UK, or anywhere, would you dare to ask him/her to go back to their home country?

I have been living abroad since the end of 2005, I am single and have no friends in Poland, I am an adult person who had made a conscious decision of moving abroad- my nationality or mentality has nothing to do with.
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Old 02.11.2011, 14:59
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Re: "Slightly" xenophobic comments from the Swiss people

she's your landlady and she's thus a business-woman. she wants to know that you will be in the apartment for a long time or if you are planning to leave, then when. I was just speaking to a swiss couple this morning and they made it a point to reassure their landlord that regardless of changing jobs, they will be staying in the apartment.
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Old 02.11.2011, 15:03
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Re: "Slightly" xenophobic comments from the Swiss people

Something I love about swiss people is they dont really care about your feelings so I think if she really wanted to say it the way you interpreted it most probably she would say, `Its good we have foreigners to fill in on the crappy jobs` or `How long are you allowed to stay in my country?`you know childish things like this, for me thats not even harsh, I just cant really think of anything at the moment. I also think its very shallow to imply that all swiss women are insecure and backstabbing! how long have you been here?
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Old 02.11.2011, 15:05
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Re: "Slightly" xenophobic comments from the Swiss people

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I appreciate your comments but I disagree with you. I was born in Poland and the comments annoy me. Generally people know that economical situation in Poland is worse than in Greece but they think I should return to that shambo anyway, so that they can feel good because I will be underachieving for the rest of my life. If you met a professional i.e. from Ethiopia who has achieved a lot in Switzerland, the UK, or anywhere, would you dare to ask him/her to go back to their home country?

I have been living abroad since the end of 2005, I am single and have no friends in Poland, I am an adult person who had made a conscious decision of moving abroad- my nationality or mentality has nothing to do with.
Unless they specifically say you should return to Poland, the question of "when are you going back?" is not xenophobic.
It's just the often alternative for " how long are you here for?" it sounds weird but it is still legit.
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Old 02.11.2011, 15:09
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Re: "Slightly" xenophobic comments from the Swiss people

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I appreciate your comments but I disagree with you. I was born in Poland and the comments annoy me. Generally people know that economical situation in Poland is worse than in Greece but they think I should return to that shambo anyway, so that they can feel good because I will be underachieving for the rest of my life. If you met a professional i.e. from Ethiopia who has achieved a lot in Switzerland, the UK, or anywhere, would you dare to ask him/her to go back to their home country?

I have been living abroad since the end of 2005, I am single and have no friends in Poland, I am an adult person who had made a conscious decision of moving abroad- my nationality or mentality has nothing to do with.
I have achieved a lot since I moved here; studied, worked, got married, had a child. I have no idea whether I would move back to the UK at some point down the line and certainly wouldn't take offence at anyone asking me if I plan to return to my "home" country.

I think I've probably asked this question to other foreigners here without the slightest thought that it might be taken as "offensive" by the over-sensitive.

Jeez, you can't say anything to anyone these days without someone scrutinising it for a hidden agenda.
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Old 02.11.2011, 15:10
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Re: "Slightly" xenophobic comments from the Swiss people

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If you met a professional i.e. from Ethiopia who has achieved a lot in Switzerland, the UK, or anywhere, would you dare to ask him/her to go back to their home country?
Argent, I'm from Portugal which, though, maybe, it's not as bad as Greece, it's in very deep waters. Knowing my own country, I put that *maybe* there because the Portuguese government is extremely good at digging holes in the economy and covering it up for a couple of years, till the hole reaches New Zealand.

People are aware of the economical crisis in my home country and they know where I come from because I don't make a secret out of it. I still get often asked when I am going back.

There is no implications on that question. No xenophobia, or luso-hatred. Most Swiss are aware that Portuguese, though the 3rd biggest group of emigrants in Switzerland, is one of the groups that least asks for Swiss nationality. Most Portuguese go back to their home country to enjoy retirenment. They ask this question because they think I miss my family, I miss my home country, and that I came here only to get enough money to be able to live a nice retirenment back "home". There are *usually* no negative thoughts behind.

You need to take things in a lighter way. If the Swiss are as aware as I am about Poland, they have no idea how the economical situation is in there.
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Old 02.11.2011, 15:11
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Re: "Slightly" xenophobic comments from the Swiss people

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I appreciate your comments but I disagree with you. I was born in Poland and the comments annoy me. Generally people know that economical situation in Poland is worse than in Greece but they think I should return to that shambo anyway, so that they can feel good because I will be underachieving for the rest of my life. If you met a professional i.e. from Ethiopia who has achieved a lot in Switzerland, the UK, or anywhere, would you dare to ask him/her to go back to their home country?

I have been living abroad since the end of 2005, I am single and have no friends in Poland, I am an adult person who had made a conscious decision of moving abroad- my nationality or mentality has nothing to do with.
Is there more to what she said to you then (or in the past) that makes you feel like she is telling you to go back? It just seems like asking you if you intend to return to your home country in the future is a harmless question, as she is probably assuming you have family and friends there. As others have said, so many jobs here are relatively short-lived expat assignments for multi-national companies, so that question is pretty standard for any foreigner here.

Regardless of her intentions, if you find it annoying that she is asking you these kinds of things, just tell her bluntly that you have no intentions of returning, or that it is none of her business. If she is just making polite conversation, hopefully she will not attempt to do so in this way in the future.
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Old 02.11.2011, 15:11
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Re: "Slightly" xenophobic comments from the Swiss people

It might also mean she is patriotic and expects others to be. Older people often are emotionally way more attached to their homelands, travelling and relocating back then with the idea of returning was maybe more common than these nomadic times we have now, when people derooting all the time and accepting and owning their new country with attachments as strong as to their home lands, or maybe stronger, since it gives them a different chance in life. Older generation might not get the new feeling of attachment and care one can feel to their new place...I wouldn't take it personally, just don't assume everyone immediately implies Eastern Europe is crap. Since people do not often think that. The fact expats come and go is a fact local inhabitants notice, just as we do, when we lose friends.
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Old 02.11.2011, 15:13
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Re: "Slightly" xenophobic comments from the Swiss people

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I have achieved a lot since I moved here; studied, worked, got married, had a child. I have no idea whether I would move back to the UK at some point down the line and certainly wouldn't take offence at anyone asking me if I plan to return to my "home" country.

I think I've probably asked this question to other foreigners here without the slightest thought that it might be taken as "offensive" by the over-sensitive.

Jeez, you can't say anything to anyone these days without someone scrutinising it for a hidden agenda.
Exactly. We get it a lot (as do most expats, probably); "Do you think you'll ever move back?". It's just curiosity and making conversation. Then again, if you want to read xenophobia into such a harmless remark, be my guest.
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Old 02.11.2011, 15:13
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I'm foreign and I get asked that all the time. Swiss people have seen so many expats come and go its quite normal. As stated she is probably trying to understand how long you intend to rent the apartment for.
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Old 02.11.2011, 15:14
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Re: "Slightly" xenophobic comments from the Swiss people

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Argent,....till the hole reaches New Zealand.
I'd just like to point out that this is geographically correct
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Old 02.11.2011, 15:15
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Re: "Slightly" xenophobic comments from the Swiss people

It might not seem from our frequent complaints here, but loads of landlords are cool and helpful. Some people check, before they invest themselves and help out a newcomer, if that person is likely going to appreciate it, if he/she is here for the long run and really need the subtle and unintrusive coaching and help I was lucky to get from loads of locals.
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Old 02.11.2011, 15:20
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Re: "Slightly" xenophobic comments from the Swiss people

Your insinuation that all Swiss Women are insecure and back-stabbing is far more offensive than asking someone when they'll be going back to there own country.
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Old 02.11.2011, 15:21
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Re: "Slightly" xenophobic comments from the Swiss people

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My landlady has an adopted Asian 10-years old grandchild and I regret I didn't ask her ironically when she would be able to send him back.
To be fair, this isn't ironic, it's just unfair and irrelevant and it's probably just as well you didn't say it.
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Old 02.11.2011, 15:22
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Re: "Slightly" xenophobic comments from the Swiss people

@Sandgrounder,

I lived in the UK before my relocation to Switzerland and I know how your country functions: this is a civilized country, with a flexible fiscal system (comparing to Poland): many Polish people have established their companies there.
I don't think that somebody just has to return to their own country, they are entitled to live where they want. Mostly abroad I have had office job, but 6 months ago I lived in France like a nomad while hitchhiking and sometimes sleeping in the mountains. I am prefer to carry all burdens abroad rather to go back to Poland. I would be able to repeat my French experience again, I am not a conformist. That annoys Swiss ladies, who think that woman's life shoud be 9-17/marriage/mortgage, not to be a wanderer.
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Old 02.11.2011, 15:23
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Re: "Slightly" xenophobic comments from the Swiss people

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That annoys Swiss ladies, who think that woman's life shoud be 9-17/marriage/mortgage, not to be a wanderer.
I know swiss ladies that do not think any or all of that.. ergo your generalization does not stand.
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