Half a year living in Switzerland! Somebody pinch me. Even though this is all happening to me, it still feels surreal sometimes.
For this mini-milestone, I thought it would be fun to list 6 things about Zürich that I find unique and that, in one way or another, shape my everyday life. From church bells, trams and rooftops, to water, vibe and internationality – here is my list.
It doesn’t feel like it’s been 5 months, but as I’m typing this, I’m on my way to Milano, the train is rolling south through Switzerland, there are Alps outside my window, and there is no denying it – it’s warm, it’s late May, and I’ve added another month to my experience in der Schweiz.
It’s end of April on the calendar, which means that really warm days are coming soon (though you wouldn’t be able to tell by today’s gray and rainy situation) and it also means that I am now over 120 days into this expat ride. In the beginning, I clung to staying only in Zürich because I wanted to develop a routine and a comfort zone, and I was learning so much on a daily basis that it already felt like I was on an adventure. But this past month, it was finally time explore more of the country. On Easter weekend it felt as if all the locals abandoned the city, and instead, I was bumping into tourists slowly walking around with maps and phones in their hands. We decided to do it half-half. We spent a day also being tourists (that’s when these pictures were taken) and then, spontaneously decided to do it like the locals and chase the sun in the south of the country, in Lugano. I think most of you followed …
If you follow me on Instagram, you have, no doubt, heard plenty about the Integration Course and its highlights – the inside info on how to properly greet others on the street! The visual calendar of local holidays! The detailed explanation of Swiss politics followed by a visit to a live session at Zürich city hall! The coconut culture model! The lessons on Swiss geography and history! And I am only halfway through the program 😉 The course is organized by Stadt Zürich (as part of their amazing integration program) and covers the A to Z of starting your life in Switzerland. It’s packed with useful information, it’s fun, and it gives you the feeling of slowly becoming a local. I still can’t believe that it exists, I’ve never done anything like this in my previous expat experience, so if you are new to Zürich, I highly recommend you take advantage of this local gem. Without going into too much detail, here’s what you need to know about the course and how you can register.
Grüezi friends! Time flies. It feels like just days ago I got my welcome package from the City of Zürich and started this blog, and now it’s three months later, I am deep into my integration and so many of you are talking to me and supporting me on a daily basis (thank you :)) For those who are thinking of moving to Switzerland, or are also new to the country, I don’t want to give the impression that it’s just paradise. It’s a beautiful, clean, functioning place with stunning nature (which I haven’t fully experienced yet) and livable cities (if Zürich is an example), people are friendly and the weather is mild. So far I love it here and I am happy, but this doesn’t mean there aren’t bumps on the road.
Many of you asked what German course I’m taking, at which school, and how I found it.
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.
Here’s an unsexy topic that usually doesn’t get mentioned very often next to beautiful Instagram pictures: bureaucracy. When you move for the first time to a new place, you think about the city having job opportunities or being beautiful, you hope there are nice people and that somewhere close there is nice nature, perhaps you check if there are a lot of places to travel to nearby – but you rarely think “Oh, I hope the bureaucracy works well there”. No, that kind of wisdom only comes several international moves later.
The very first time I stepped on Swiss soil was a warm Friday night in early July 2016. I had just flown in from Helsinki and the first thing I remember is a switch from crisp Northern air to hot and humid weather. I never associated Switzerland with heat, and my mind was confused because I thought I was going to a city but felt like I landed in a vacation destination.