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Old 15.08.2007, 02:50
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From Hong Kong to Chicago to Switzerland - Artist/Media Worker

Hello everyone,

I am happy to find this forum. I was typing "I hate Switzerland" in google, and the first thing in the findings is a thread here. I really enjoy reading the thread, and I am happy to know there's not only me having the same feeling.

I came from a Design/Filmmaking/Culture Study/Critical Thinking background. Since I come to Switzerland, I have been mostly doing things as a Film/Video director and Editor and special effect consultant, at the same time, certainly, a "victim" of cultural differences.

I guess, like most of you here, I am here first for a relationship (and am still in a relationship), but not like most of you here, I am in a field that can't stick with a regular working hours, you know, creative, freelancing, artist...etc etc... (who know? indeed?) Is there any "Artist" here?

I have been here around 2 years, slowly picking up the language... what else I can do...

I don't know what I can do here, but I really enjoy reading the thread, and I hope to share my experience with you here.

all for now.

Kit
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Old 15.08.2007, 09:41
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Re: From Hong Kong to Chicago to Switzerland - Artist/Media Worker

nice search criteria. All going well for you?

There are a few creative types here, hopefully they answer you on this thread.
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Old 15.08.2007, 17:47
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Re: From Hong Kong to Chicago to Switzerland - Artist/Media Worker

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There are a few creative types here, hopefully they answer you on this thread.
Hi Kit from one of them!

Mike
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Old 15.08.2007, 18:21
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Re: From Hong Kong to Chicago to Switzerland - Artist/Media Worker

I am sorry you do not like Switzerland. But after 2 huge cities it would be hard to live here I agree. I remeber the first time I came here 6 years ago(Geneva) and I was like where are the skyscrapers. I originally am from a small town in PA and then moved to Atlanta for 20 years. I was ready to get away from all the smog, traffic, and fast paced life style. So I was glad to move here and accept a slower pace. I still miss alot of things I have to say. Going out to eat for a reasonable price is just one of them. I just wanted you to know that it does get better after a while being here. Adjusting is just the hardest part. Glad you have a relationship that helps.
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Old 15.08.2007, 18:25
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Re: From Hong Kong to Chicago to Switzerland - Artist/Media Worker

And I am really sorry you live in Bern(no offense) that would not make me very unhappy coming from big cities. I commend you for being able to do this for love.
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Old 15.08.2007, 21:06
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Re: From Hong Kong to Chicago to Switzerland - Artist/Media Worker

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Hello everyone,

I am happy to find this forum. I was typing "I hate Switzerland" in google,
Hi and welcome to EF,
So is this true? If so why???
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Old 18.08.2007, 20:27
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Life as an Artist/Media Worker

Thanks for everybody's replies. I am glad that I am in a active forum that people are responsive and warm.

I have been here like almost 2 years, I give up my work permit and jobs in New York City, coming with a warm heart full of wishes to ending a 5-years-long long distance relationship. At the same time, to take care of my BF's emotion (at that time his parent are dying).

I didn't really intent to find a "job" that works regular hours, but to bring my ideas,projects, and the skills here wanted to look for opportunities in the film/art community, so I can be an Artist/Filmmaker here.

Strange enough, when people ask me

"what do you do in Bern/Switzerland."

"I am a filmmaker" I normally answer.

They would think a bit, and continue. "And what do you do for life?"

"I make films" I re-confirm.

"and what do you do for money?"

I was shocked, I don't know how to answers. I never have this experience ever in the US or in Hong Kong, people here seems don't believe that making art is a way of life, or some one can live and make money with a "hobby". Here, things must always attached with money. (they are very realistic) Am I suppose to answer like "Oh, I am a charier in Migros" or "I invest my money in the stock market in Shanghai." ?!?! similar kind of things?

I am gay, at that times there're no homosexual/domestic partership registrations in Switzerland (2 years ago), it takes us a lot of energy to find out the way to made me stay officially here. We was buying books (very swiss-way of looking for answers), we called PINK CROSS in Zurich, none of them is helping, but just to re-direct us or give us general answers. Finally, a good friend told us what we should do is to hired a lawyer and to pay a lot of money to makes him talk to the government. Finally I got the permit on the last day my tourist VISA expired, the stress and worries are really unbearable.

After that, I find out that I have to live in Switzerland for 2 years to be able to registered as "WORK FOR MYSELF" (be self-employ), so, I was volunteering myself to help a independence singer in Bern, I pay a rent of 350 CHF a month to him for a small room, he promised me to get me all kind of documents to enable me to officially WORK in Switzerland. He give me a lot of assignment, knocking on my door every 2 hours, I spend almost 16 hours a day aims to finished what he want, this includes Music Video Productions, and multimedia design, I even have to utilized my connections in Asian to help marketing his new CD. I shallowed all kind of stresses and sometimes slight insults as if I can see a good co-operations is ahead of us. It turns out that on the day he send his Master CD to print. He requested me to move out of the apartment. I feel seriously foolish and the friendship and energy are wasted. I have no way to exit and have to look for a place to go immediately.

After a few months, and visits to a psychologist, I feel emotionally better, and learn how to protect myself from people around me. In the beginning I have a feeling that, a lot of Swiss people around me just wanted to take advantage of me, and they are always hidden something behind. Around that time I read a book called "Beyond Chocolate" by an American woman, she explain how "German speaking (the coconut)" culture is different from "English speaking (the peach)" culture. I started to understand why people behave like ice-mountain to me, but still I can't stand the way new people meet each other.

Since than, I have been working a lot just for my film, I have a very nice offer by a film club and I can have my small studio there.

As a individual comes from an art/culture study/film making background, and with the experience of living in the big cities like Hong Kong/Beijing/Chicago/NYC, I have to say that, there's simply NO COMMUNITY of ART/MUSIC in Switzerland. People are pretty much all about themselves, (as I can read from the user here, Swiss people is totally NOT GOOD in term work), and is not capable to give their creative energy to support others projects.

In some discussions with some Fashion Designers/Artists around, even if they can master the language very well, they still feel like people are pretty much detached from everything. When asked for criticism on a specify art work, people usually tend to just said "I think it is nice." and nothing more. I tried to send 150 e-mail individually to inquire about the film productions status, and looks for co-operations, only 2 respond me with one line of "sorry". Even for the film festivals in Switzerland, the never respond someone who is not in their list/nor well-known. But for the same cases in other international film festival like Berlinale / Venice, they are very responsive to everyone.

So, I am not trying to blame all the Swiss in the country, but I think the area/circle that I am interested in, people are generally "to busy" with what are existing with them, and I don't see the possibility to contribute myself or be able to assistant in any art project.

A friend (who is a fashion designer) told me, when other filmmaker receive your e-mail, the first thing that comes to their mind are properly "competitor!!" It takes a "long time" for them to open up, that's why things is soooooooo slow here.

I indeed have a short film that have represented Switzerland oversea, and have won some awards, but after many attempts trying to reach the right persons in Swiss Film, I simply received NO respond for my enquirers, and am still lost in the middle of no where.

But, anyway, "who don't have difficult time living in the new country" I usually comfort myself with this sentence.

I have been very lucky to find external resources to execute my film, and staying in Switzerland, have been an experience for me to know, to learn, how to protect myself from being used, and to have a lot of self-esteem not to be turn down by people who just ignored you, and to learn not to blame myself every time...

I definitely can see the good side of life in Switzerland, but for the field of Art and Film, I don't think the country have the "colour" to push it forward.
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Old 19.08.2007, 14:10
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Re: From Hong Kong to Chicago to Switzerland - Artist/Media Worker

Hi from a Hong Konger living in Zurich.

I'm sorry to hear about your experiences, and frankly a little bit shocked about the situation! I would have thought that one has less creative chances in HK!

Is it just that you are not among the "right" community? I am sure that arts are quite thriving in Switzerland (just look at the great museums!! esp. in the Basel area!) so I cannot imagine that they will be so unreceptive!!

I have been here for almost a year, and my encounters with Swiss people and the Swiss society is a very positive one. Then again I am in the sciences.

Are there filmmakers group that you can join to meet people who are enthusiastic about the field, but not those who think of you as competition? Anyway, I hope that your situation can change soon, and I wish you all the best.
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Old 19.08.2007, 16:06
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Re: From Hong Kong to Chicago to Switzerland - Artist/Media Worker

Hi hwkit

First of all: welcome to the forum AND to switzerland!
I am truly sorry that your experiences haven't been the best ones here and I can still read the disappointment between the lines.
Maybe it helps you that you are definitely not alone with these problems. The system and it's people is very different in this country, and even more when you compare it with the cities you used to live. Even after 2 years you have to deal with kind of a cultural "shock".
I guess after a certain time we all realize that it is hard to make friends here. Society lets you hardly join in. The most relations are combined with work but that's it... The media contributes to the isolation with articles blameing all foreigners in this country and many people believe it.
And all of a sudden the Internet is your best friend. I mean look at all the threads talking about the same!!!

How I know? Well, I have the same experience like you - meanwhile 5 years, but I am also sure that there must be a profit one day.
Don't give up on it hwkit! Wonders always take a little bit longer...
And: Maybe it is a good idea to move from Bern to Zürich. Could be worth a try...

Aloha! sunnysideup
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Old 20.08.2007, 02:47
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Re: From Hong Kong to Chicago to Switzerland - Artist/Media Worker

Thanks mucc and sunnysideup for the encouragement. Actually there're still some "nice" people around that keeps my creative life positive, I am currently helping a theater group, tho most of the people inside is non-swiss, but they have successfully do something in Switzerland and they are mainly my "hope" in Switzerland now about the creative energy...

I am seriously considering moving to Zurich, at least to have a small work place there for my own. Is Zurich really better than Bern? How do people compare the so-called city here like Geneva, Zurich, Basel, Bern...??

I might have to move that to a new thread.
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Old 20.08.2007, 08:04
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Re: From Hong Kong to Chicago to Switzerland - Artist/Media Worker

Zurich is definitley better and bigger than Bern. More cosmopolitin and the Gay seen is bigger and more visible there. I would say also the arts are far more superior there also. I hope all works out for you whereever you end up.
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Old 20.08.2007, 14:33
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Re: From Hong Kong to Chicago to Switzerland - Artist/Media Worker

Dear hwkit,

I am really glad to hear that you have at least some good people around you, that keep you going.
As elsewhere in the world, believe in your success and in your visions and you will be fine

It is definitely wise to check out Zurich for many reasons. Bern doesn't seem to be the right place for your plans. Bern is mostly the city where the parliament is and the city of administration. Life is much much slower than elsewhere in switzerland. The country is ruled from there...
Geneva is the centre of banking, Basel is full of important pharmaceutical industry.
Zurich is considered to be the secret capital of switzerland with pretty much the fastest lifestyle here. And it combines industry, banking, artists, tv stations, radio stations etc.etc. It is an international environment, people from all over the world live mainly in Zurich.
As far as I know, you are more likely to find a good peergroup and a company who support your work there. People are more open because of the buzzling cultural mix It might remind you of the cities where you have lived (at least a bit) that the transition is not too big for you.
I am sure with a thorough Internet research and a short trip to Zurich you will find options there.
Long story, uh, but this is why I had Zurich in my mind when I read your story...
I hope this information was a little bit helpful. Finally - once again: do not give up! All what counts is to find the right door. And I wish you all the best and keep my fingers crossed for you!

Aloha from sunnysideup
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Old 20.08.2007, 15:01
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Re: From Hong Kong to Chicago to Switzerland - Artist/Media Worker

P.S. Before I forget, something basic about switzerland... You mentioned the slow life here in your original post. It is understandable when you know a bit of the country's history. Back in the history it was many times a wise idea for switzerland to wait and see what the developments around them were, like WW2. Nowadays they are overwhelmed from new influences regarding the connection to the EU. People here are not used to "fast" changes, they never had to because they wore successful with waiting... But I see them adapting and changing... Just needs some time
So: GO FOR IT hwkit!
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Old 22.08.2007, 16:19
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Re: From Hong Kong to Chicago to Switzerland - Artist/Media Worker

Kit.. welcome to English Forum.

when we will meet? Me and my partner already met your other half (last time when you were back in HK).

Hope to meet you soon. and regards to him

Pjoe
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Old 22.08.2007, 21:29
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Re: From Hong Kong to Chicago to Switzerland - Artist/Media Worker

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I came from a Design/Filmmaking/Culture Study/Critical Thinking background. Since I come to Switzerland, I have been mostly doing things as a Film/Video director and Editor and special effect consultant, at the same time, certainly, a "victim" of cultural differences.
Have you got a copy of the cinememo? That's all addresses, coordinates of film-making people and companies in Switzerland. THE source for all your film-making contacts. Oh, and I know is it the '06 version. It is printed every 3-4 years , so this is the latest!
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Old 12.01.2009, 17:04
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Re: From Hong Kong to Chicago to Switzerland - Artist/Media Worker

Hi! Welcome. I also lived in Chicago. I moved here from Los Angeles four months ago because Im engaged to an awesome Swiss guy. I love the fresh air and nice people here. Im an artist too. The Basel art fair is this summer, I cant wait to go, I hear its amazing. I get frustrated too but when I find myself hating something about European life I also find something I love. Like, I really hate breaking down cardboard boxes and the trash system and the small food portions here ha ha OH, and the fact they dont GIVE you bags to carry your merchandise at stores after you spend money at their store. Grocery stores in particular. And you have to PAY for a grocery cart! Grrrrrrr....what the hell is that about!?!? grrrrrrr
Take care
Victoria
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Old 12.01.2009, 17:25
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Re: From Hong Kong to Chicago to Switzerland - Artist/Media Worker

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And you have to PAY for a grocery cart!
Not something I have ever come across. Where did this happen to you?
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Old 12.01.2009, 18:12
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Re: From Hong Kong to Chicago to Switzerland - Artist/Media Worker

You don't really pay for the cart... it is more like a deposit to ensure you return it. And not giving bags away free is simply to encourage recycling and it certainly works... Many countries in Europe do this now, and you really notice the difference, no more flapping white plastic waving at you all over the countryside.
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