Moving to Switzerland
Moving to any country can be very exiting, if you have a positive attitude. The best card to play here is the fact that you don't know anything about your future life. This allow you to build a filter in your awareness to see life through a better pair of glasses, you can start expecting good and positive things coming to you. If you are moving to Switzerland think about the beautiful Alps, the Lakes, the cities, the new job and expect to meet good people, helpful people. The more you focus on expecting to meet good people and live good experiences, the more you will filter your attention to these things. As a result, you will develop good resilience to help you facing the negative side of being a foreigner here.
When you do not develop resilience, every new little challenge from the new environment may look like a tragedy, creating shock after shock while making you believe that living here is horrible. I experienced in my first year here, several false heart attacks produced by anxiety and stress.
Do not let your life get to this point and look for help. Do not consider local help to complain about how horrible your life is in their country. That would be a big mistake. Look for an expat who can really understand what you are living.
Look for expatriates forums in the Internet to know about where to move, private vs public schools, language courses, expats communities, where to register and get your residence permit, where to get your swiss license, etc., All this information and more, can be found in English forums in the internet. Formal information in English about the Swiss system and Authorities can be found in www.ch.ch/en, http://www.movetoswitzerland.com, www.englishforum.ch, www.angloinfo.com, www.meetup.com
Where to Start When You Move to Switzerland
1.- Before you move to Switzerland, look for internet and telephone providers and fix an appointment to get that done before you move there, or at least, on the very same day when you are moving there. Check https://www.swisscom.ch/en/residential.html. It has a good service. But I had a very bad experience with Wasserwerkezug oder wwz.ch. It took them forever. We spent the first three weeks without Internet and telephone. After we got the Internet connexion, we realized that the transmission for down and upload files was so limited that you can not work with it. It was as if we were in the stone age of the Internet. So we changed to Swisscom and it was a huge difference. We felt, we came back to the present time again. Once you have got your Internet, everything will be much easier for you.
2.- Inquire in the English forums in Switzerland about foreigners friendly neighbourhoods. The people in the big cities like Zurich, Zug and Lucerne are very open minded and you will meet a lot of people speaking English in cafes, restaurants, shops and open places. There are many foreigners communities and groups that support each other and can help you with a lot of information and activities to do.
I remember that my husband and I selected a list of several apartments in different neighbourhoods to check. The apartments were in Steinhausen and Rotkreux in Kanton Zug. They looked brand new and the rent was not so expensive, but not cheap either. After our first month of living in the new apartment, we experienced many not-foreigners-friendly situations. We moved after 10 months to a much better place and among expats. You may ask, but how could you know where to move? Let me tell you, you can find all the answers you are looking for nowadays in forums.
Don't get me wrong, we also met nice open minded people in our first place, but they were not a majority. My best neighbour was a Swiss lady named Ruth. She helped me a lot. I still keep in touch with her. She told me where to go, what to do and where to find what I needed. She was sad when we moved. I was very lucky and very thankful that I met her.
3.- As soon as you have moved, inquire how to get your Swiss license and your Ausländerausweiss (residence permit) in the Amt für Migration. In my case, I had to go to Zug, here is a link to help you with all the Info you need in English about the type of permits:
4. If you have children, think about public schools vs private schools. If you are coming to Switzerland with the benefits of an expats contract, probably you will get covered the expenses of a private school for your children. That's perfect! If you have got a local contract, you may not get the private school included. It is very expensive in Switzerland. But if you can afford it, think about it. Otherwise, if you have a child in kindergarten age, I recommend you to register him in a public school, in order for him to get adapted to the language and the culture. He will start having Swiss friends and making playdates with them will help him to be accepted and be integrated more easily. Public schools in Switzerland offer a good education and a lot of extra curricula activities. The richer the town is, the better resources in the school will be offered.
If your child is in primary school age, he or she may experience something a bit different about integration and social acceptance in Swiss public schools. Public schools in the city presents more foreigners than public schools in the suburbs where people are more conservative and not so foreigners friendly. An option to improve integration is to register your child in the same extra curricula activities where the local children of his class go. For example, Fuss-ball Club, Turnen Vereign (Sport), Pfadi (Scouts Groups) , Ballett, Judo, Kung Fu, tennis, you name it. Manage for your child one up to two play dates per week with locals and be consistent, don't interrupt this routine. During the season holidays try to book at least one playdate before the classes start. So your child won't be excluded and will feel continuity in his relationship with his classmates. I have tried everything to help my children to feel happy here. Adaptation and integration is relative, but keeping integrity and identity is more important for a child in an foreign environment. Support your children no matter what. That is the best you can do. I have a happy child in a public school and a happy child in a private school.
5.- Get to start building your network with expats and locals. I have got very nice Swiss friends and you will get to know very nice Swiss people too. The more you focus on expecting to meet good people and live good experiences, the more you will filter your attention to these things. Keep being open and start learning to speak German. There are Swiss and German people here, who are looking for an interchange of conversation in different languages. So you get to speak German and they get to improve their English. Here are some Links that can help you:
Deutschen Stammtisch in Bern
I hope these tips can give you an idea about where and how to start your life here in Switzerland.
As I said at the beginning of this blog, developing a positive inner attitude will help you emotionally to enjoy this first phase of starting a new life here. But if you focus on every little challenge the new environment has to offer, it will only bring more stress and anxiety. Prepare from inside out and develop a life strategy to enjoy your new life and your new job in Switzerland.
Take life coaching in Switzerland to cope with anxiety and manage stress. One session of life coaching will give you support not only during the adaptation phase but it will also provide you with easy and effective exercises to develop resilience and a positive attitude that will help you to be able to count the good things around you again. Check out my life coaching in Zurich, Zug, Lucerne or any other city in Switzerland
SUCCESS CHOICES is much more than life coaching in Switzerland. SUCCESSCHOICES understand where you are and will go along with you to help you discover your new environment and will support you in your new life and work.
Maria Griselda Mueller
is a professional coach specialized in expats and cross-cultural support. She is originally from Venezuela, has lived in more than ten countries around the world and has a Master certification in psychological coaching.