Expat life
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Two months in

Swiss heart, view over Zurich

Moving to a new country is like getting into a new relationship.

You start to spend time together. You slowly get to know each other. You have cool dates and also some awkward moments. When it’s fun, you try new things, when it’s tough, you try to compromise. And as time goes by, you figure out if there is enough magic for a long-term commitment.

Today is my two month anniversary with Zürich.

I think we’re in the honeymoon stage. (At least from my side, who knows what Zürich thinks of me?)

So far, the city has held up its end of the relationship bargain. On our administrative dates, I’ve received clear information and help with bureaucratic errands, and people have been wonderfully polite and welcoming. In every day life, Zürich has given me convenient places to shop, beautiful spots for walks, cool cafes for afternoons of writing, free exhibitions, pink sunsets, new friends, and the ability to hang out with swans by the lake. In other words, Zürich has been a perfect gentleman.

But relationships need commitment from both parties, so here’s what I’ve been up to:

  • I signed up for an integration course at the City of Zurich. It runs for 16 weeks and covers things like Swiss history, geography and politics, social and health insurance, school system, neighborhood activities and even gives the chance to attend a live political session at the parliament in the Zürich Rathaus. (Sounds cool right? more info here)
  • Speaking of health insurance, I now have one! It’s a mandatory legal step in Switzerland, though the system is quite unique and takes a bit of time to understand (there is a good guide by ETH here). For example, the “HMO” model (or as I call it, “insurance clinic first”) or the “telmed” model (“telephone first”) I’ve never come across in other countries.
  • I opened a Swiss bank account and felt like such boss doing it because it sounded like I’m a millionaire, and it was a cool personal experience either because I’ve watched too many movies, or because it made the reality of working and living here all the more evident.
  • I got a library card from ZentralBibliothek so I can check out books in German!
  • I now also have the grocery membership cards from Migros and COOP. Because I shop there almost every day and saying “Nein” when the cashier asks me if I have a card always made me feel like I’m a visitor. Well, now I’m a local and I’m accumulating points! Ha! (I think).
  • I found German language lessons (from this database) and will take an intensive Deutsch Kurs in March.

and finally,

  • I joined the wonderful local online community when I started this blog. I’ve received so many welcoming messages and helpful comments with advice, recommendations, and lists of places, and these interactions have helped me get to know the city from the human side (thank you!).

So two months in, Zürich has welcomed me and given me opportunities to integrate, and I’ve been trying to do my best to make the most of them. I am not always this active and positive – it’s a process – sometimes there are misunderstandings, less than pleasant surprises, or just difficult days. But, doesn’t every relationship have those anyway?

Below are some of our honeymoon photos 🙂

Swans at Lake ZurichSunny day in ZurichGrossmunster on sunny Zurich dayFraumunster up close Zurich SwitzerlandStadhausSwiss chocolate heart


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