Good things about Switzerland
Ziggi started this thread on the Expat-Moms-in-Switzerland mailing list on the June 5 2008 in the evening. The comments below were all made in less than 24 hours following that. I think they're all worth remembering. I haven't attributed any of them to anyone, but please feel free to add your name if you wish. And certain also amend and add other good things.
Without further ado and in no particular order, things we like/love about Switzerland:
That biological farming regulations and the rules which keep them up to standard.
That I can send my boy to the neighbour's farm to get fresh eggs.
That when I'm out with the stroller and the baby starts fussing, there's nothing like a a well-timed herd of cows with bells and horse riders trotting by to get his attention and make the dog obey.
The weather. I know for some it seems wet or cold but compared to Scotland it's dry and warm, even this week.
The fact that there are rules and people care that you stick to them and aren't scared to tell you when you don't. I know sometimes that can be tough, but, for example, I know most people in Britain would be too scared to tell a teenager to pick up their litter....
The sheer choice of local fruit and veg. and other products.
I can send my kids off to school and know that they will come back.
When I smile and say hello, others are genuinely happy and smile back (or maybe they think I am just out there and I haven't noticed :))
The colors are so vibrant here..grass is really really green, the red poppys are deep red, etc. . The air is good too.
the music school of Zürich - great experience there.
the lake and view of the mountains and great bike paths.
fresh air and cows free to roam in the ecological farm near by.
that with minimal effort my children are bilingual despite their linguistically challenged parents
that the weekend does on the whole mean family time (despite the fact that my hubby is currently working them as well)
that where ever you go in this beautiful country you will find lovely unspoilt areas where you feel transported back to more uncomplicated times and the people are all friendly
that Common Sense prevails - If you want to do something stupid like drive around a hairpin bend at 70kmh don't expect to come out of it without a scrape or demand an inquiry!
that public transport that is reliable and clean where trains and buses run even from little stations every 20 mins.
A firm belief that shops should be closed (in most places!) on Sundays so that Families can maintain at least one day in the week without having to work.
Exploring different cities most weekends that are only 2/3 hours away by either car or train, wonderful places, amazing buildings and beautiful old cities, bridges that were built hundreds of years ago, wonderful clean lakes you can swim in. And the bonus that my little children are now excited to visit new places on the map and explore old ruins and walk cobblestone streets something they could have never experienced in Australia.
The fact that my children are having a childhood similar to mine growing up in Australia. The chance to ride about the neighbourhood with your friends after school. Go to the forest and build a fort/house/castle. Go and catch bugs and things in the creek. That my five year old son went on a Kindergarten excursion at 8am and then walked for 5kms through the forest, stopping to make a fire to have their sausages and bread, and arriving back at school at 4pm. How wonderful to see his exhausted little dirty face and his filthy clothes and here his story of what they did in the forest. This would not be possible back home - especially with 1 adult and 19 children. How wonderful it is to have my children learn independence and what pride it gives me.
Champagne is so cheap. Wonderful wines and lovely champagnes - all easy to buy at the local Coop.
And that when you are waiting for a package or a plumber etc they come at the agreed time.
That I walk from work in the night without any fear.
I appreciate that children are taught respect in Switzerland. Not only are they taught to respect public property and other people, but they are held accountable if they do not show it. I am not afraid to look a young adult in the eye and get a smart answer in return.
I enjoy the slow pace of my life here. It took some getting used to, but I love that I have the time to enjoy a flower in bloom or drink a leisurely cup of coffee in the afternoon.
I love the public pools! They are clean and well maintained.
The views are breathtaking. We can enjoy the lake one in the morning and the mountains in the afternoon.
We can be in France within minutes and Italy within hours BUT we like it so much here that we seldom leave. There are so many places to investigate here and every community is distinctive.
Our neighbours have been fabulously accommodating with our large family of four children and two cats. We have never felt unwelcome and are always greeted with smiles and Bonjours. (A significant change from Vienna where we were the Auslanders and from London where everyone appeared so busy and self-absorbed that it took years to get a smile).
Week-ends for family-time have forced me to have enough groceries by Friday without having to drag the kids through busy shops on Saturdays.
that I can have alternative healthcare at a reasonable price!
that cars will stop for people in a pedestrian crossing. Seeing a driver stomp on the brakes in his 40ton truck and patiently wait for my 4-year old to cross the road is something. (doesn't always work, but most of the time).
the broad range of people I've met as a member of the expat community and the local community. One can really feel the smallness of the world here. I love that I have friends who grew up in Africa, England, Australia, etc. When I am visiting at home in the U.S., I often find myself saying, "...you know, my American friend who grew up in Cameroon and lives in Zürich with her Slovakian husband"; or, "...my Swiss friend whose parents are German and Italian." When I hear myself saying these things, I just think: lucky!
The fact there is still a sense of community/society here, which is what makes it safe for kids to walk to and from school or play outside, what enables adults to comment when people behave in an anti- social way, and what prompts strangers to acknowledge the existence of other human beings, even if only with a nod and a "Grüezi".
The facilities for children and mothers - highchairs in almost every restaurant, kid's menus with more than just chips on them, crayons and colouring books to keep them occupied at the table, changing tables in many, many public loos, the way people help you on and off public transport with your buggy, WITHOUT even being asked, the fact mothers with small children or pregnant women do not seem to be begrudged the space they take up on the train or footpath... or the very air they breathe (like in London!)
Friendly, helpful and efficient service in the shops and the way people make the effort to understand my mangled German rather than rolling their eyes, switching to English, or getting impatient.