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Old 03.09.2011, 23:30
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Re: Perspective: doz we haz it?

I think what hasn't been said here that is important, is that the longer one resides here, the more one realises that one actually doesn't have to mix with Swiss people at all if one so desires...and the Swiss being the Swiss....don't seem to have a problem with that. I have never come across this phenomenon anywhere else (& I've been around), I like the Swiss but I also like my world too.

If you like where you live, it really is as good as Cannock, or Walsall, or Parkstone, or Kentish Town, or Boscombe, or......
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  #42  
Old 03.09.2011, 23:51
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Re: Perspective: doz we haz it?

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Don't get me wrong: I don't think that people are blowing their own experiences out of proportion. Some of the stuff we read about on the forum really is very unpleasant.

Moreover, I think the forum provides a very valuable service, being a place where we can come and rant when we are upset, frustrated, angry or disappointed with some aspect of life in Switzerland, without fear of breaking the law or upsetting the neighbours. It is good that we have place to do this.

My concern is with the reader, rather than the writer of such posts. It is the cumulative effect of reading the experiences of several hundred people living in places as diverse as Lausanne, Lugano, Liestal and Lenzerheide that leads us to believe that Switzerland is an awful place full of people having awful things happen to them. Which, of course, it is*. It's just that without the English Forum we wouldn't be reminded of that fact quite so often.

*just like everywhere else is.
Dougal's Breakfast

Your original post and this one couldn't have come anytime sooner. The seemingly endless "Swiss bashing" threads do impact the Reader as you have said, as do the posts which make an annual salary of CHF155K sound like chicken feed.

We lived in Kanton Zurich for 4 years before moving to the Suisse Romandie. Now there is a possibility that we may have to move back to Zurich once again.The subconscious effect of reading these "Switzerlanded" threads was such that I had actually started dreading this possible move.

Coincidently, just a couple of days ago I had shaken myself out this negative mindset by remembering our previous 4 years in Zurich. We did have a few nasty surprises then, however on the whole, the entire experience was extremely positive and enjoyable. Prior to settling in Switzerland, I had been visiting Zurich at least 4-5 times a year for more than 20 years. I have wonderful, warm, generous Swiss friends who have known me for decades now.

Every place in the world has it pluses and minuses, so does Switzerland. Likewise for the Swiss people. All things considered, if there is one place in the world where I would rather be, it would Switzerland.

I have nothing against people dissing Switzerland though. Each to his own.
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  #43  
Old 04.09.2011, 00:21
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Re: Perspective: doz we haz it?

Yes, I think respect and protection of one's private sphere has long been a Swiss attraction, something that is growing rarer and rarer in the world.

You don't have to know or respect your neighbor, but you do have to respect his property and private sphere. Some of the pettiness and insistence on order and correctness grows out of a sensitivity to anything perceived as an intrusion or infringement on property and privacy.

The other thing is security in one of the most secure lands in the world. Seemingly, the more secure, the greater fear of losing it, so any perceived infringement or threat may be greeted disproportionately.

Further, the greater the privacy, the higher the the security and wealth, the greater the paranoia, grumpy and scowling faces, aggressiveness just under the surface and written notes to avoid direct contact where some concession might occur.

Behind it all, naturally, is simple fear and insecurity, so what is really needed is compassion for the poor rich bastards, as they suffer terribly in the isolation they have created.
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  #44  
Old 04.09.2011, 10:45
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Re: Perspective: doz we haz it?

Something else that occurred to me: expat people by definition have travelled. Many of them have lived in more than two countries. Therefore they have experience on which to draw in order to make a comparison.

One would hope that would mean a more informed view of certain behaviour beyond simply a comparison between here and "home".

Getting that across to a conservative mountain people is likely to be hard work at best.

AYB
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Old 04.09.2011, 11:18
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Re: Perspective: doz we haz it?

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So - on balance - do you think life in Switzerland is as bad as we paint it, or do you think our view of the country is skewed by having access to many more stories of personal experience than we might normally enjoy?
How dare you suggesting that EF does not accurately reflect the woes of expat life in Switzerland.
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Old 04.09.2011, 11:27
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Re: Perspective: doz we haz it?

I don't see that at all. Very early on when I arrived it was made clear to me if the rules say you can do it then you can. Else you can't.

Interference in the lives of others seems to pervade all aspects of swiss life: from names on the doors to preaching old ladies, to unsolicited letters dictating what civilized behaviour one can indulge on a particular weekday.

I know some will argue that such infrastructure is what make the selfpolicing so effective, but please don't try and indicate that "respect for the private sphere" is a key element of it.

AYB

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Yes, I think respect and protection of one's private sphere has long been a Swiss attraction, something that is growing rarer and rarer in the world.
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Old 04.09.2011, 11:48
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Re: Perspective: doz we haz it?

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I often think about our friend Nil, and wonder if she might have felt much more comfortable living in Neuchatel or Lausanne than Basel.
To be honest Dear Odile, it never been the language I had a problem with. I am a girl of big cities and water. And Basel didn't give me any of those two. Lausanne would have made me happier I believe. Not because of the language. I was lucky enough to be able to speak french with so many people in Basel. I always had great experiences regarding socialisations, my daughter was always the center of attraction in public transport with maybe an incident here or there that I can't even remember.

A smile opens so many doors.

DB, I think this forum is a blessing for so many reasons. It is also our Dailymail kind of place where we are looking for good stories and actions. I made so many thread about positive things in CH that turned into a blast fest, a flufeeh accusation, a closed thread because of hijacking, trolling, etc.

I sometimes think it is in our nature to like disasters and problems and terribles stories.

I had a lot to complain too but I can say that I had much more good experiences.

Last thing I have to say, I never ever in my life felt so much racism. Never I felt so much discriminations and generalisations than HERE on THIS forum.

Not in Switzerland no. On this forum, from other expats.
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Old 04.09.2011, 11:53
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Re: Perspective: doz we haz it?

Reading this forum over the years, I always thought myself lucky to be here in Suisse Romande. Reading stories on here from the Swiss German side of the country never sounded to me like the Switzerland I know and experience everyday.

I think true perspective only comes when you go back home and encounter all the same stuff there. Suddenly the penny drops that it wasn't Switzerland that was the problem, it is the whole human race.
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Old 04.09.2011, 11:56
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Re: Perspective: doz we haz it?

Three things that came to my mind when I read DB's post:

1. Some expats who come here have false expectations when it comes to cost of living, and cultural assimilation etc. Many of them have a picture in their mind of how the country should be before they arrive. Switzerland is very unique, from a cultural point of view, has its own economic reality that is different from other european countries. Add to that the fact that it is very hard to get a clear picture of Switzerland unless you are in the country, then it is understandable why some OPs are surprised in a negative way about the country and share their frustrations on EF.

2. I am really grateful for all the information that EF has provided me. It has been a tremendous help in getting settled into the country. (Even helped me avoid a registration fee from the Gemeinde) However, what I have also noticed is that the majority of people on EF (including myself) go there when they have a problem or an issue they need advice on. Naturally that invites these stories of negative experiences people have in Switzerland.

3. EF is a tough crowd. There is for sure a lot of "tough love" going around when it comes to receiving advice regarding complaints. On the one hand that is good because it weeds out the insincere or ridiculous complaints but on the other hand I sometimes get the feeling more experienced forum members give OP's a hard time because they themselves were treated poorly when they first arrived to Switzerland.
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Old 04.09.2011, 12:07
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Re: Perspective: doz we haz it?

I feel the EF mirrors a number of expat forums worldwide.
However I also think that many a (European/North American) expat experiences a bigger cultural gap than expected when coming to Switzerland.
That's not a negative but may be a contributing factor to the negativity seen here at times.
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Old 04.09.2011, 12:35
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Re: Perspective: doz we haz it?

I have to say, despite having recently written in Complaints Corner, my experience of Switzerland has surpassed all expectations. I was reading the forum more often before I arrived a few months ago, and honestly I was expecting quite a shock. In the end, the only overt racism is graffiti, people are perfectly happy with my crappy German, no grief from bureaucrats, and the town isn't boring at all.

And all the upsides are even better than I thought:

- 5 minute commute to work. No underground sardine can.
- All the walking trails you could dream of
- Low tax, but better service than either of the welfare states I'd lived in.
- Weather is better as well
- Loads of activities: Schwimbad by the lake, loads of fests through the summer
- Can't get tired of the view. Postcard everywhere.

Wrt. meeting locals, I'd say that's the same with locals anywhere in the world. They've lived in the neighbourhood for years, so they've known their friends for years. They're shy. It's not actually a common skill to go be able to go out and introduce yourself to new people. It makes people nervous, and so they avoid it if they can. So you end up meeting other people who are in your situation (expats) or locals who happen to be more outgoing. The same was true when I lived in the UK and Denmark.
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Old 04.09.2011, 13:14
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Re: Perspective: doz we haz it?

From my perspective this place kicks a*ss over where i'm from.

It feels like a dream living here. We both walk to work and have a wonderful home while still being close to town so we can walk to the lake and shops - a lifestyle we just couldn't have back home.

We had such a lovely day yesterday. A BBQ with friends at ours while the kids played and our guests live locally and could just walk home. No one called the police or complained about our BBQ smoke or complained about the noise our kids made.
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  #53  
Old 04.09.2011, 13:41
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First of all, I love living here and have no desire to return to the US. But it's not Nirvana...nowhere is. There is aggravating stuff and annoying people and crap happens. On balance though, I would rather be here.

A lot of people come to forums such as this to complain. I've seen it in other forums too, the perspective is often skewed. And we tend to remember the negatives more than the positives.
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Old 04.09.2011, 14:49
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Re: Perspective: doz we haz it?

Ja ja ja I heard enough , can we go for beer now ??Yes Yes Yes
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Old 04.09.2011, 15:37
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Re: Perspective: doz we haz it?

I've made me home here and have a good life. Reading the negatives on the forum sometimes makes me smile, it's easy 30 years down the line to forget the homesickness and cultural confusion I went through when I first arrived.

I've seen massive changes and it would be easy to constantly counteract rants with "well you should have lived here 30 years ago" but I don't because each persons journey is individual and I don't want to sound like me avatar..

Anyway there were ex-pats complaining then too, only it was down the pub.
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Old 04.09.2011, 15:42
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Re: Perspective: doz we haz it?

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Reading this forum, one gets the impression that life in Switzerland is a maelstrom of nasty neighbours, rude shopkeepers, useless parents, pursed-lipped bureaucrats, aggressive xenophobes and vicious cynophobes.
That's only because most posters live in the German or French speaking parts!

In the REAL Switzerland (i.e. Ticino), it ain't like that!

Tom
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Old 04.09.2011, 17:04
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Re: Perspective: doz we haz it?

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Reading this forum over the years, I always thought myself lucky to be here in Suisse Romande. Reading stories on here from the Swiss German side of the country never sounded to me like the Switzerland I know and experience everyday.
Although Romands, on the average, tend to be more tolerant and laid back than us Alemanni, I think the fact that this forum mentions more Encounters Of The Weird Kind from the German speaking part is caused by simple demographic figures as well, as st2 wrote. Where there are more people, there are more incidents to discuss.

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I think true perspective only comes when you go back home and encounter all the same stuff there. Suddenly the penny drops that it wasn't Switzerland that was the problem, it is the whole human race.
Maybe, but it depends on what "back home" means. There are differences between Romands and Deutschschweizer, so it is to be expected that are even bigger differences between Swedes, Aussies, Arabs and Chileans.

I spent a year and a half in Greece, among Greeks, not in a tourist or ex-pat ghetto. If I had taken my Swiss German Alpine mind set with me and stuck to it, I might call all Greeks nosy, noisy, gossipy, ignorant, obtrusive and all sorts of other bad things. Since I went there with an open mind, I know there is a little bit of truth in all those peculiarities in that they are different from us rather reserved, suspicious and self-conscious Alpine folks, but that's not a bad thing. I learned a lot from them that opened my mind even more.

Similar things, just with different adjectives, could be said about my experience with Scandinavians, the Dutch, Midwestern Americans etc.. There are differences. We have to live with them. Life would be boring without them.
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Old 04.09.2011, 17:52
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Re: Perspective: doz we haz it?

So many interesting posts, thanks

Nil, the point I made was not about the language, but about the 'feel and atmosphere'- in other words the 'culture' if you see what I mean. xx


Certainly since joining EF, I've come to realise that there is a huge difference between moving to a country for a long period of time (as I did in the UK all those years ago- and as my OH is doing now here in CH) to settle - compared to those people who are 'sent' somewhere for their work, especially if it is part of a long series of work based moves. It must be so hard to feel permanently 'on the move'- especially with a family in tow.
Must say that, personally, even for a short period of time, I'd throw myself in line, hook and sinker, try to adapt and integrate, learn as much of the language as poss- but this is just me. I realise fully now that it is not just so important or realistic for many. I'd like to take the opportunity if this lack of understanding of the difference between temporary and permanent (semi..), made me sound a bit harsh when I first joined here (re learning the language for instance). As a Swiss I am the first to be critical of some of my home country's ways - and yet I often find myself taking on the 'devils' advocate's' mode when reading so many negative comments. Especially as some of the comments just do not seem to apply to the realities here, where I live. Thanks.

Last edited by Odile; 04.09.2011 at 19:57.
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Old 04.09.2011, 19:12
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Re: Perspective: doz we haz it?

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When you are in your comfort zone, you share those experiences with you friends and family, the store clerk, your hairdresser, your kid's daycare provider, the stranger behind you in line at the grocery, etc.
Great post, OP, thanks.

i think Textoch hit the nail in the head. Based on my personal experience, I have realized that my perception of things sometimes is highly skewed by the fact that this is not "home", wherever that is.

I have had highs and lows in CH, but no major negative happenings, until last Wednesday, when, after an incredibly and exceptionally rough beginning of the week at work, I was sitting at the doctor's office waiting for test results for what turned out to be a tonsil infection. Although the care received was top notch, everyone was nice, and in spite of the fact that I like my job and adore my team, on Wednesday I started crying like a 2-year old, and couldn't stop asking myself "What am I doing here? All is hard, I don't understand anybody, this is crazy, etc...".

But is this really "Switzerland" or is it more "Federica in the (long) process of learning to adapt to/integrate in Switzerland?" I think the latter. I guess my point is that, even when circumstances are perfectly solvable - who doesn't have the occasional rough day at work/in life, and who doesn't fall sick? - the fact of being "away from home" makes it look like a huge deal, much bigger than if the same things happened "back home" - which, incidentally, do happen even back home. I will try to remind myself of that next time I am a bit low and discouraged.
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Old 04.09.2011, 19:53
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Re: Perspective: doz we haz it?

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I think what hasn't been said here that is important, is that the longer one resides here, the more one realises that one actually doesn't have to mix with Swiss people at all if one so desires...and the Swiss being the Swiss....don't seem to have a problem with that. I have never come across this phenomenon anywhere else (& I've been around), I like the Swiss but I also like my world too.

If you like where you live, it really is as good as Cannock, or Walsall, or Parkstone, or Kentish Town, or Boscombe, or......
Switzerland still exists NOT because Swiss-Germans and Romands "mix" in any particular way but because they "co-exist" and tolerate each other The tolerant majority so simply co-exists, while the reactionary minority joins the SVP and opposes and some weird adhoc majorities decide the fate of the union
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