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Old 21.08.2015, 15:32
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"when will you go back to XXX (your country name)"

As a foreigner, i came to switzerland for study and later for work. It is almost six years. Every time when i get to know new swiss people, one of their first questions is always "you donot wanna go back to your country?" or " when will you go back to XXX (yout country name)?"

Somehow i always feel assulted in such conversion. I found these questions are very unfriendly. It is giving me a feeling: you should go back where you are from, why you are here, and it is strongly implying you are not welcome here!

When i was living in US and Japan, people were usually asking whether i like their country, whether i would like to stay. It gives me a welcome feeling, warm and friendly. This is apparently different from swiss people or their mentality.

Friends on english forum, have you ever encounter such kind of situation in switzerland? how to you deal with that? what is your opinions about such behavior?
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Old 21.08.2015, 15:37
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Re: "when will you go back to XXX (your country name)"

Don't despair, I have been here continuously since 1989, and strangers still ask me the same question.

I tell them I have bought a burial plot already, and I am fully integrated now.
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Old 21.08.2015, 15:38
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Re: "when will you go back to XXX (your country name)"

Probably because in Zurich many Chinese people are here for a fixed term with their company, exacerbated by the limitations on working visas etc so they often can't stay even if they wanted to.

The difference between "how long are you staying" and "when are you going" could also be a language / culture thing; I wouldn't read too much into it.

I think also the Swiss are slow/cautious about making new friends; hence they want to know these things, unlike other cultures who are more easy come easy go.
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Old 21.08.2015, 15:38
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Re: "when will you go back to XXX (your country name)"

Must be you. I've been here longer than that and I can't remember anyone ever asking me that question.

But you really need to get some thicker skin. I can't imagine how being asked that could upset you.
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Old 21.08.2015, 15:42
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Re: "when will you go back to XXX (your country name)"

Yup. Ten years and counting, and never once been asked.
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Old 21.08.2015, 15:46
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Re: "when will you go back to XXX (your country name)"

Yes, people frequently always ask how often I go home - I reply "I am home". But I think they just talk for the sake of talking - like the automatic "ça va?" (how are you? when basically they couldn't give a rats ass how you are. If you say fine, that's correct - if you actually state how you really are, it throws them off track.
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Old 21.08.2015, 15:54
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hehe i am quite calm for these questions. I got asked more and more since I moved from Lausanne to Zurich. So it pops up and i would like to share my thoughts and feeling here. nothing upset.


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Must be you. I've been here longer than that and I can't remember anyone ever asking me that question.

But you really need to get some thicker skin. I can't imagine how being asked that could upset you.
I believe there are more US based companies here and more Amercian here than Chinese people.

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Probably because in Zurich many Chinese people are here for a fixed term with their company, exacerbated by the limitations on working visas etc so they often can't stay even if they wanted to.

The difference between "how long are you staying" and "when are you going" could also be a language / culture thing; I wouldn't read too much into it.

I think also the Swiss are slow/cautious about making new friends; hence they want to know these things, unlike other cultures who are more easy come easy go.

Last edited by 3Wishes; 21.08.2015 at 21:40. Reason: merging consecutive replies
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Old 21.08.2015, 16:06
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Re: "when will you go back to XXX (your country name)"

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As a foreigner, i came to switzerland for study and later for work. It is almost six years. Every time when i get to know new swiss people, one of their first questions is always "you donot wanna go back to your country?" or " when will you go back to XXX (yout country name)?" . . .
If it is one of their first questions, they are simply mistaking you for a tourist, and will naturally be expecting you to be soon leaving.
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Old 21.08.2015, 16:23
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Re: "when will you go back to XXX (your country name)"

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I believe there are more US based companies here and more Amercian here than Chinese people.


You are probably right, and they probably get asked the same question. But I'm not sure of the relevance, unless you have an american accent.
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Old 21.08.2015, 16:39
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Re: "when will you go back to XXX (your country name)"

For me it is the other way around: people from my home country ask me when I go back.
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Old 21.08.2015, 16:39
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Re: "when will you go back to XXX (your country name)"

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Must be you. I've been here longer than that and I can't remember anyone ever asking me that question.

But you really need to get some thicker skin. I can't imagine how being asked that could upset you.
Methinks you're just getting old
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Old 21.08.2015, 16:58
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Re: "when will you go back to XXX (your country name)"

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As a foreigner, i came to switzerland for study and later for work. It is almost six years. Every time when i get to know new swiss people, one of their first questions is always "you donot wanna go back to your country?" or " when will you go back to XXX (yout country name)?"
If they weren't interested in talking to you, i.e. generally friendly towards you, they wouldn't speak to you at all. Or if it was intended to mean "when will we finally get rid of you", that would be phrased in a more obvious way, perhaps not phrased as a question at all.

Indeed, the majority of resident foreigners (especially non-EU) who are born abroad leave the country sooner or later. While on average half of those born abroad leave within ten years, that percentage for e.g. north-americans is about 75%, and for the chinese(mainland) it's about 80%.

Additionally, the vast majority of comments on Switzerland people hear from foreigners (not tourists) are complaints in one form or another (witness, among other things, the threads on EF), "why can't CH be like home" is fairly common. So it seems reasonable to assume that you, Austin, are unhappy here too ("you don't wanna go back?", aren't you homesick?).

So even though it appears unfriendly to you, it's simply used as a talk-starter and should be viewed in a positive light.

Last edited by Urs Max; 21.08.2015 at 17:14. Reason: Trying to be more concise
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Old 21.08.2015, 17:04
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Re: "when will you go back to XXX (your country name)"

I only ever knoew one person who asked this type of question in a way that I interpreted to be unwelcoming. He also asked questions about England in a way that implied everything there was pretty rubbish and a borderline third world country (or so I interpreted him). At first I tried to explain stuff to him but when I noticed I wasn't getting through to him I just answered him in the shortest way possible to avoid unncessarily proloning the conversation.

I then didn't see him for something like 15 years and forgot about him, but recently met him again. My initial thought was, oh no, him again. But we sat down and had a chat and it turned out we connected in many ways that I hadn't previously realized and he seemed genuinely friendly and interested.

So maybe he changed, or maybe my first impressions were mistaken.
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Old 21.08.2015, 17:08
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Re: "when will you go back to XXX (your country name)"

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Yup. Ten years and counting, and never once been asked.
What a pity!
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Old 21.08.2015, 17:20
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Re: "when will you go back to XXX (your country name)"

Don't take offense. People feel the need to put others into boxes and sometimes it just sounds very wrong without the intention being negative at all (sometimes it is, though). As someone pointed out, many on-EU foreigners are here only temporarily, hence many will automatically conclude that you are one passing by here.

I've been living in Norway on and off since 1993, have done most of my studies there and never had a proper job in Canada, yet people still comment that I speak Norwegian really well and ask me if I like brown cheese.

In Canada they ask me when I will move back "home". Like I would know if I ever will, I left when I was 18!? And where is "home", anyway? (I define it as where my family and I have unpacked).

And in Zürich they can never figure out where I belong, in my home-country, in Norway or in CH. Or what language I "really" speak. Sometimes I don't either.
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Old 21.08.2015, 17:30
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Re: "when will you go back to XXX (your country name)"

I have been asked if I'm going back but I assumed they were talking about visiting family and vacationing there, so answered appropriately to this assumption...!
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Old 21.08.2015, 17:41
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Re: "when will you go back to XXX (your country name)"

It is also possible that they mean :" why are you still here if you can go back home to such a wonderful place like..." Just a thought. I´ve been asked if I ever want to go back, but I didn´t take like .."go back to to where you came from you dirty.....". I have been asked if I´m christian or jewish, because , the person explained later, of my nose. That, I took badly, but the guy asking proved to be just very naive, and not a bastard.
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Old 21.08.2015, 17:52
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Re: "when will you go back to XXX (your country name)"

I look them in the eye and reply, Never!

Then I laugh.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-KC6IV7Doc
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Old 22.08.2015, 10:05
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Re: "when will you go back to XXX (your country name)"

As a Portuguese I get asked a lot: "how long I'll you stay in Switzerland". I don't see this as a negative thing, because Portuguese emigrants are notorious "returners" after a few years in Switzerland.

I usually answer I don't have any plans of leaving, as I consider Switzerland my home. Usually I get a good reaction from the Swiss who asked the question in the first place.
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Old 22.08.2015, 10:45
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Re: "when will you go back to XXX (your country name)"

I think that is the reason why people ask that question. I don't think it's a hint to bugger off but more of an invitation to tell them what you like about living here - and in may case it is a long list. Always gets a smile.
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