I follow Lonely Planet on Instagram. The other day I was scrolling though my feed and there was a photo of the ‘Switzerland’ guide. Someone was planning a trip. How exciting, I thought, mentally adding it to my list. Then I remembered that I live here.
I wonder what I would be saying about Switzerland if instead of moving here 18 months ago, I had visited for a week or two …
Would I be reminiscing about the wonderful chocolate, and the cheese, the efficient trains and the fresh air?
As it is, I’ve been challenged this last week by the differences in the cultural codes I am bound to. Everyday life has ups and downs wherever you are. Sometimes the challenges can seem greater when things don’t make sense in the first place.
It’s taken this long for my daughter to learn the language, and thankfully with the German has come friendships. She recently spent an afternoon with a friend and I had assumed that the baton of responsibility had been handed over to someone else for a few hours. I found out later that no adult had been keeping an eye out for them. Of course that is normal here, but it is not normal for me. There is a cultural difference between an inherent belief that the world is safe, compared to an inherent belief that it is not.
My feelings are compounded by the fact that the more integrated my daughter becomes, the deeper my sense of floundering. The rules here are starting to make sense to her, yet I’m not sure they will ever make sense to me. If we stay on this path then at some point our values will start to diverge.
People say that it is enriching to live abroad and to experience another culture. Certainly it can be character building. Sometimes I think maybe it would be better to simply visit a place. I would surely see the beauty in Switzerland more clearly if I had a guidebook and an itinerary. Instead I am trying to find my place in an unfamiliar land with no guide to lead the way.
I need to find my bearings again. My suitcase is packed for a trip home next week. For a few days at least, I will blend in.