How I have survived moving here.
I posted something similar in the employment section a few days ago but I feel so strongly about sharing something positive I thought to take the plunge and do a little thread of my own.
I arrived here 6 months ago with 2 kids, swiss husband (who has not lived here as an adult) and we took a house in a village near Basel. After 2 months here I was crying most days. I was amazed at how fast I fell apart. I went from being in a senior role professionally to being an invisible haus Frau. I panicked and felt anxious with the most mundane things which made me angry with my husband who seemed not to understand why I was dying here. I hated everything and everyone here. I became an awful mother because I was so used to being in control, being the organizer, knowing how to get things done.
I had no energy to learn the language but realized I was not going to survive well here without it. I found a language school in Liestal which is run by a woman who herself was an expat in the states ( s b l sprachschule) . I walked in 3 months ago with no appointment and she sat me down and let me cry for over an hour with all my grief pouring out. I started with them and she gave me a teacher who is also a mother. I go twice a week in the mornings to suit the school timetable.
My teacher helps me with whatever I need to learn. We often have field trip lessons where we use the time to learn how to do what I need. in no particular order: learn how to shop, where to shop, join the library, go to a butcher to order good meat, hairdresser (six months of grey hair gone!) doctors, swiss life, schooling stuff ( finkens, swiss bags, holiday things) , where to buy stuff ( fasnacht costumes, skiing stuff, cheap products), how to understand menus, eating out with kids, going to swimming pools, parking systems, buying tickets cheaply, using public transport, cash machines, swiss babysitters, house cleaners, post office, banking, city life versus village life, how to be part of swiss festivals, play ground etiquette, school systems, and on and on....... I have all the books and CDs and I am learning a lot of German with her. However, she also lets me direct the lessons if I have one worry that week or 500 of them. she also gives me scripts if I want to know how to convey something specific like " does your mother know your at my house?" And what to say when I call mothers ( very valuable after one incident !!!) .
I feel more accepted, less paranoid and have more confidence. the shops we go to she makes a special mention to the owners of where I come from, where I live now and that she is discussing the products or menu. So they see me as a valuable new customer and I know I am welcomed when I go by myself or with kids. Ditto with the hairdresser ( a huge fear trying to convey what you want, after my first appointment they have me for life ) . things like knowing syrup is often free and not advertised and how to get a good kids meal ( get one adult meal and ask for a spare plate, you measure out how much each kid gets which means you only pay for one adult meal for 2 kids, don't get it done in the kitchen).
I didn't even know how to get off a train or tram (which button opens the door) or get cash out of the machine which doesn't have English. my worries about people staring and feeling foolish have evaporated. We discuss weird swiss things, rules versus old wives tales, traditions, mentality, how to make swiss friends. I have realized swiss mums are also kept in the dark about school things and it is not just being foreign (surprise teacher training days!!!) .
I still make mistakes but I am more fully prepared and can now laugh at myself and express my confusion. I know I am lucky my husbands company gave me a big chunk of money to do this. but his being swiss has not been the asset I thought it would be!!! He knows nothing of adult life here and is away at work. learning how to live here while learning the language has been the best experience since I got off the plane. It's like having a paid friend/ other parent who I know can talk fluent english with openly to answer all my questions ( and unlike us foreigners, she has all the local answers!) , help with swiss worries and etiquette and let me know how things work. in addition to learning the language how I need it for today's purposes. It's 15 minutes on the train from Basel and close to many villages. I think they are very flexible.
I remember only 4 months ago crying while serving dinner ( I barely cooked back home ) and feeling like this was the biggest mistake I had ever made and so trapped because i couldn't escape this nightmare. But having language classes that are life language classes has lifted the gloom and isolation. I am making my way back to being in control. P.s I got a terrific job 6 weeks ago, which I attribute in part to these lessons. I just wanted to give them a plug because I don't think my experiences are unique but perhaps this school is?
Last edited by Ace1; 23.04.2015 at 15:11.
Reason: Adding some paragraphs.