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Old 01.08.2008, 16:52
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Having a hard time adjusting here

We have moved here in February from the USA. Our sons are 3,5 years old
and a 9 months old baby. My husband is doing great and has adjusted to
living here prety quickly. Six months later, I fel that I am failing to
adjust and integrate here as I am still longing our life in the US., I
am having magazines shipped from there.I am having blockbuster
forwarded to Switzerland. We are watching Slingbox with American TV. I
find that it is just VERY hard for me to feel like at home here as I do
not really know people. I do not speak the local languages which really
doesn't help. HAs any of you gone throug this and may advice me how to
ease my way into feeling like at home here and overcoming the cultural
shock. Is anyone of you feeling similar? I'd appreciate some advice
Cheers!
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Old 01.08.2008, 17:05
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Re: Having a hard time adjusting here

My post is likely to be the first (or one of the first) of many, and they are more likely to be from people in your own situation (I'm a single bloke, so take anything I say with a pinch of salt), so I shall keep it short.

But, in a nutshell: We've all been there, and you will feel better. I promise.

At first, you are sure to spend your time thinking back on what you lost in your previous life. You will want to surround yourself with things from home, watch telly from home, speak English and so on. My own arrival was beset by difficulties (new job, new flat, new country, just been dumped by the fiancee for whom I'd upped sticks in the first place), and I had a desperate need for contact with English people and things (to the tune of a 2000 CHF mobile phone bill for my first month here).

Gradually, however, I came to realise that all this weird foreign-ness was an opportunity - a long holiday, if you like - and a chance to do something different for a change. I understand that with children, to some extent you are limited in your options (I was all alone out here, so the loneliness was balanced by independence), but there are many other people out here in the same boat, with whom you can share trips out, coffee on the lake, walks around town, trips to the chocolate factory near your house, and suchlike. Get out there, and enjoy living on the side of a lake, near the alps, with a chocolate factory down the road (you can almost hear the envy as I type, can't you?).

Perhaps you can enrol your children in an English or bilingual play group or nursery? They'll get to have fun, and you'll get a few hours to drink lattes and shoot marmots (or whatever you like to do). At the very least you'll meet other English speaking moms.

And finally (I did promise, didn't I?), try and make some effort to learn the language - some people thrive on classes - others, like me, prefer to just blag it - either way, you'll start to feel better about yourself and your abilities, and you'll have more contact with the locals who are generally alright, considering they're all foreign...

Anyway, good luck, enjoy the responses you will get on this thread, and chin up! It really does get better. Honest!

EDIT: Longbyt says it better here: Tips for Trailing Spouses
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Old 01.08.2008, 17:08
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Re: Having a hard time adjusting here

There are lots of people here who have gone through the same as you.

It took me over a year to adjust to life here so dont expect to wake up one morning feeling like you now" belong" Life here just falls into place for some people, and some never feel quite at home. I am not sure where you are living but i would maybe keep an eye on the calender and see if there are any social events coming up or maybe start one yourself?

Also try looking through some threads as you will find there are quite a few about settling here in Switzerland
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Old 01.08.2008, 17:13
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Re: Having a hard time adjusting here

I agree with Douglas, i moved here along time ago, and could not speak the language so the first thing i did was start going to German lessons, it will take time, but i hope for you that it will get better.

Do you like the Enquirer from the US if so i buy it every week here, if you like i could send it to you once i have read it, just send me a pm with your address
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Old 01.08.2008, 17:26
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Re: Having a hard time adjusting here

Hi Mazule,

Welcome! I know exactly how you feel. I'm from the US, too, and I've been here three years. I felt a bit shell-shocked and disoriented the first couple of months, but I soon adjusted. There are, of course, still things I miss from the US (my family more than anything else), but that's normal. I think anyone who emigrates anywhere, whether permanently or temporarily, will always be a bit *homesick* for certain things.

I would second Dougal's Breakfast's rec. to look for playgroups with other expat mothers. They definitely exist, I've seen them mentioned here (do a board search). I would also highly recommend that you join the American Women's Club. They have a clubhouse with a library stocked with US books and other publications, they have a calendar of events and activities (for children as well) as well as daytrips, walking groups. They also offer courses such as Living in Zurich and German classes, which I think will be VERY helpful. Even if you just learn a little bit, it can make a big difference.

The worst thing you can do is to isolate yourself and disconnect. If you get out, meet people, make friends and do stuff, you will feel much better.

http://www.awczurich.org/

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We have moved here in February from the USA. Our sons are 3,5 years old
and a 9 months old baby. My husband is doing great and has adjusted to
living here prety quickly. Six months later, I fel that I am failing to
adjust and integrate here as I am still longing our life in the US., I
am having magazines shipped from there.I am having blockbuster
forwarded to Switzerland. We are watching Slingbox with American TV. I
find that it is just VERY hard for me to feel like at home here as I do
not really know people. I do not speak the local languages which really
doesn't help. HAs any of you gone throug this and may advice me how to
ease my way into feeling like at home here and overcoming the cultural
shock. Is anyone of you feeling similar? I'd appreciate some advice
Cheers!
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Old 01.08.2008, 17:44
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Re: Having a hard time adjusting here

I joined a mother, and baby club, is there any around near you, quite a few could speak English i will dig the broucher out, and post the e-mail address

I will send you a few Enquirers on Monday, and i think i have some other magazines, but from the uk, would you like those aswell.
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Old 01.08.2008, 17:50
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Re: Having a hard time adjusting here

honestly, the answer is simple: pick a nice day and schlepp yourself and the family to Starbucks or something.

http://www.englishforum.ch/social-events/

Click the above link and set up an event - a nice family meet-up.

Avoid Saturday 9th August if it's in Zurich.
Maybe look at doing it in Kilchberg or Thalwil....they're real expat "ghettos".

I assure you that this approach cannot fail. Maybe you do it on your own first but you will very quickly find you have a bunch of friends to cheer you up and to restore sanity.
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Old 01.08.2008, 17:51
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Re: Having a hard time adjusting here

I cannot really add anything else to what has been said, but having two young children is a great way to make new friends. Most of my friends that I made where through the children so it is really important to get out to as many activities/groups that you can.

I bet that in another 6 months time you will be back on line telling us about your great social life!!

As Dougal says - We have all been there but it will change - get out in this lovely weather and as it is National day, I am sure that your local commune will have celebrations on that you can attend later on today
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Old 01.08.2008, 17:54
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Re: Having a hard time adjusting here

Lovely weather?
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Old 01.08.2008, 17:56
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Re: Having a hard time adjusting here

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I joined a mother, and baby club, is there any around near you, quite a few could speak English i will dig the broucher out, and post the e-mail address

I will send you a few Enquirers on Monday, and i think i have some other magazines, but from the uk, would you like those aswell.

Ok i found the e-mail address it is for my area, but i am sure there is a link you can find out if there are any clubs near your area, the clubs brilliant we meet every other Wednesdays, and we also do nice things together like meeting up on a saturday at a big park and having a bbq together the adults get to talk the Daddys play football, and mummys gossip, and the kids run around and have fun. We go to the zoo, and we went to a little airport last year where the kids could have a ride in a fire engine, and sit in a private plane, and then a tour behind the scenes of the airport, and lots more.

Ok here is the e-mail tjm-arbon@bluewin.ch
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Old 01.08.2008, 17:59
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Re: Having a hard time adjusting here

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Lovely weather?

I am over in England for 3 weeks and it is really sunny here in Kent, 30C yesterday

I presumed it is the same with you (It was the other week)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Best change that to "Take a brolly with you later"
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Old 03.08.2008, 06:26
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Re: Having a hard time adjusting here

One thing that might help is going to the bookstore (try the Orell Füessli English Bookstore at the corner of Rennweg and Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich) and picking up a copy of Diane Dicks's Ticking Along with the Swiss. There are several volumes by now of these collections of (usually) shorter pieces by foreigners from various places writing about their experiences living here; it helps to not feel alone!

But the tendency we all have when dumped into a foreign culture is to stick to the familiar, which also all too often means not making the effort - and it is often an effort - to experience what the place has to offer. Maybe think about what you liked doing in the States (hobbies? interests?9 and then find out (including through the Forum: there's a lot of accumulated wisdom here!) how/where you could do something similar here. That's also a way to get some social contact, which is the part that we all tend to miss most.

J.
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Old 20.08.2008, 09:44
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Re: Having a hard time adjusting here

OP i sent you the magazines last week (A post), and sent you some pm`s, but you have not pm-ed me back (did you get my pm`s). Could you please let me know if you got the magazines, i have kept the receipt from the post so if you did not get them i can go, and ask them what is going on. Thanks.
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Old 20.08.2008, 10:11
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Re: Having a hard time adjusting here

Mazule, perhaps it's time to surround yourself with less US things and try to find out more about the Swiss things and quirks. It's perhaps one way to deal with homesickness and a way to grow to love your host country.

I've been here two years. It was around the one-year 'anniversary' that I realised I considered CH home now. This is where I have built a life with my Other Half and where I have a daily or weekly routine.

Have you checked out the local library nearest to where you live? Watch a couple of Swiss films, such as 'Kleine Fische' (Small Fishes) which have English subtitles. Even smalltown libraries can be very well stocked with CDs and DVDs as well as books and magazines. Read a few children's books in German (you might not understand every word but they're delightful) and your toddler will love it too.

Hope you're making more friends in your locale. All the best.
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Old 20.08.2008, 10:28
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Re: Having a hard time adjusting here

We moved to CH back in 1991 (my wife and I with three kids 1,2and 3 years old).
First day we arrived, we went to Migros for shopping and that was the first SHOCK. Specially when we learned that we had to pay for the bags to carry our stuff. In the US not only we did not pay for bags but we were given the choice of "paper or plastic"
Now after 17 years, we both (my wife and I) agree that the move was the BEST THING WE DID IN OUR LIVES.
We are so very greatful to have raised out children here in CH. We do not think we will ever go back and live in the US (we have both American and Swiss citizenship). My daughter went to the US last year for collage. It did not take a year until she decided to come back and now she is studing in Franch part of CH in an excellent school. The boys are in Uni Zurich and ETH.
Good luck to those who are new. Make the best of it. Know that there are thousands of people all around the world who would kill to have the opportunity to live in Switzerland so ENJOY IT.
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Old 20.08.2008, 10:30
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Re: Having a hard time adjusting here

Good post in that you seem to feel it's your responsibility to fit in, to me that is half the challenge. I think many people that struggle here do so because they don't acknowledge this.

You will always hold on to things American, watch American TV, complain Italian pizza is crap (ignore that, it's an "in" joke) but this is nothing to worry about. The key, in my view, is to start at the basics, work out how the boring stuff works (utility bills, tax returns etc etc) and just accept that's just how it is here and probably won't change. Constantly being challenged, and putting off, the admin stuff can be pretty straining.

If you have time for it start an intensive German course, put your kids into Krippe (Nursery) a few days a week to accommodate this if you budget will allow. Not speaking the language of those around you is, obviously, one of the biggest reason people feel isolated. I've been here for over 3 years, speak crap German, and have only just realised that this is the key to Switzerland really feeling like my home. Pick the course carefully too, the last thing you want (IMO) is to be in a course full of Americans, there are other groups to meet your country folk.

In short everybody on here has been through it, it's not easy, but you have to take the mindset that you are going to stick with it. It does get easier believe me.

For your kids it is probably the best place they could grow up, they will speak two languages fluently and probably end up keen skiers as well as enjoying the best from 2 very different cultures. Our plans are to stay here minimum 10 years for this very reason, our 7 month old son, and the feeling I'm going to be here long term is a positive one, I'd guess that in 10 years I'd need a very strong reason to leave.

Best of luck.

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We have moved here in February from the USA. Our sons are 3,5 years old
and a 9 months old baby. My husband is doing great and has adjusted to
living here prety quickly. Six months later, I fel that I am failing to
adjust and integrate here as I am still longing our life in the US., I
am having magazines shipped from there.I am having blockbuster
forwarded to Switzerland. We are watching Slingbox with American TV. I
find that it is just VERY hard for me to feel like at home here as I do
not really know people. I do not speak the local languages which really
doesn't help. HAs any of you gone throug this and may advice me how to
ease my way into feeling like at home here and overcoming the cultural
shock. Is anyone of you feeling similar? I'd appreciate some advice
Cheers!
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Old 20.08.2008, 10:37
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Re: Having a hard time adjusting here

I would agreee with the above. The best thing to do is get out
for some social events. It must be hard though with a 9 month
old.

There are many Americans in the Kilchberg, Thalwil, Horgen area.
Hopefully you will meet others. There are a few of us here
in the EF if you have questions.
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Old 20.08.2008, 10:49
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Re: Having a hard time adjusting here

I have lived in a number of different countries, and worked in more, and I know what you mean. I think part of the strain on you is perhaps that you feel under an obligation to adjust (because you are here physically), but mentally have not yet reached the stage where you really want to yet. So you simultaneously feel you ought to try to be a local, while your heart is still elsewhere.

It will get easier over time (you won't even notice it happening), but I would say, don't try to force it. Much better to tell yourself that you're on an extended vacation, and act like it. That doesn't mean having to slog around museums and sightseeing all day every day, but take it more easy, and remind yourself that you're getting a chance to hang out "for free" in a place that people from all over the world pay good money to make brief visits to.

Think, "every day a holiday" and ease up. Things and people will come into your life in due time. It is vitally important though to do language lessons, not as a one-hour-a-week hobby or recreation, but as a 5-day-a-week job -- your essential survival kit. Once you can communicate, things will get a lot less isolated for you.
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Old 20.08.2008, 11:04
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Re: Having a hard time adjusting here

as Lob mentioned, EF social events are a great avenue for you to begin fitting in, and while you still hold on to "american things", you already incorporate some "swiss things" - there're many swiss-american couples on EF, whom you'll meet at these events, definitely help in the transition.
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Old 20.08.2008, 11:43
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Re: Having a hard time adjusting here

Lots of good advice in the previous posts.

I think that it's easier to adapt to life in a new country if one makes it a point of going out and not spending one's days at home. Since you have small children, I wouldn't be surprised if you actually are spending most of your time at home and, in my opinion, that could explain why you're finding it more difficult than your husband to adjust to life in Switzerland (I'm making the added assumption that your husband has got a job to go to every day).

Anyway, I thought I'd post a link to the following leaflet from website of the UK Council for International Student Affairs on culture shock and adjusting to life in a new country. Most of the sections are not relevant to you, but the section "A model of culture shock" might help you by giving you an understanding of the phases you're going through. http://www.ukcosa.org.uk/files/pdf/i...ture_shock.pdf

All the best.
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