One of the things about living in another country is remembering to be flexible and learning humility. Zürich won’t, and shouldn’t, conform to me – I have to conform to it. I need to learn the language, figure out how to pay the bills, follow the rules and laws, and accept that nothing here will be exactly like where I came from.
While there are a lot of foods and things I miss from the US, there are quite good analogs for many things that we want and we can get here. For the things I can’t get here, I generally do without it. I’m finding that a lot of those things that I can’t get in Switzerland are more wants than needs anyway (clothing being the major exception, but we’ve now found a supplier for nice plus size clothes). There will be things from the US that I’ll miss, and that I do miss now, but I came here, in part, to experience new things and people. I think the trick to surviving in another country is to accept the differences, but try to make life as normal as you can.
It hit me a bit yesterday when the Wife and I set up our altars in our dining area. Setting up our spiritual space always makes a place feel like home to me. Especially since a lot of our magickal things have been with us since we first got together. The pictures of our Ancestors, statues of our deities, magickal tools, all make our apartment really feel like “home” when we have them out. Not that it didn’t feel home-like before, but now it feels that way even more.
What really gets me are a lot of immigrants, and typically many US ones, on some forums that constantly complain about what they can’t get in Switzerland and go to great expense to either get stuff shipped to them, or carry it back in their luggage when they visit their home country (again, mostly US folks). I just don’t get it, really. I don’t expect Switzerland to be like the US (thank the gods!), and I certainly am not here to only have US food or products. I want to learn about food, and culture, and history. I want to experience all these things. I know all about US stuff already. Swiss stuff is all new and different and exciting!
There were certain things that were easier to do in the US. The biggest one for us was being able to use Amazon to get whatever we needed delivered.* Amazon doesn’t really work in Switzerland (and many of the Amazon suppliers even for amazon.co.uk and amazon.de won’t deliver to Switzerland), so we have to do a lot more in-person shopping or use alternative online sources like eBay and galaxus.ch. But, the upside of that is that it gets us out of the house and utilizing our German language skills!
It’s a real eye opener for me being the immigrant here, not knowing the language, and having to navigate official things and people at large. I did have empathy and sympathy for immigrants in the US, but now I really understand how it feels to be and immigrant. I’m lucky that Switzerland is, generally, open to immigrants and has many mechanisms to make people feel welcome to the country. For example: the Zurich City Hall has a new immigrant Welcome Night every other month where they welcome you to the city, answer any questions, and give you a tour.
The US immigration process seems barbaric by comparison, and then you have to navigate a general public who are openly hostile to you and a loud chunk of the population who have a superiority complex.**
The US has a long way to go. Switzerland’s not perfect, but in general, the government does try to treat people like they are actual human beings.
*Please don’t lecture me about using Amazon. Both the Wife and I have mobility issues and hated going out to shop because of that. Plus, in Zurich, walking isn’t a hardship like it is in the US (excellent and extensive public transit is awesome).
**You know, that whole white supremacy thing and the Religious Right thing. (White nationalism and the Religious Right are a thing even in Switzerland, but here they have no problem punching Nazis and keeping them to a minimum in government.)