Moving to a new continent is exciting but also scary.
A part of you wonders whether you will be accepted – or whether you will even like the new place. I moved from Zimbabwe to Switzerland and have had my fair share of shocks and awkward experiences... Here are seven Swiss experiences that you simply can’t make up:
The value of sunshine
When I first arrived in Switzerland, I always wondered why everyone was so obsessed with the weather. A ray of sunshine and everyone is out on the streets!
I hail from a sunny land and it took me a while to learn what a treat the sun is… Meanwhile, I have jumped on the weather bandwagon, too!
The calling of university professors by their first name
This is unheard of where I come from! In fact, it is punishable and it even extends to children calling adults by first name…
Alas, it took me a while to adjust and call my professor by his first name: “Elisio”!
About that expensive calf's liver "Kalbsleberli"
In Zimbabwe, calf’s liver is one of the cheapest meats you can get! I know, Swiss cows are great and all. But what makes their liver so much more expensive?
I am far from home and desperate... It is such a delicious meat, so what the heck can I do about it than pay Swiss prices?
The solarium incident at the gym
I had a gym tour and they were showing off the great facilities. It was going really well until we got to the solarium.
The guide stopped, looked at me and said: “I am sure you won’t be needing that.” She was right - I have loads of melanin but could not help but laugh!
Cholera (the food, not the terrible disease!)
Cholera is a dish? Like, what the heck? Am I the only one to point out that this Valais specialty is a terrible disease in many parts of the world?
Nearly five years into my Swiss life, I still have not been able to bring myself to trying cholera…
On being black in Switzerland
Before moving to Switzerland, I did not think too much about my skin color. Most people looked like me, after all.
Now, I will be randomly sitting at the bus stop and a lady will sit next to me and tell me about her friend from a random African country. She then goes on to tell me how lucky I am to be black. I smile, and I want to say the casual “you too!” But it sounds weird in my head, so I just say “thank you” instead.
How polite the Swiss are, though! You get on a train and have to ask if a clearly empty seat is free. If you don’t ask, you will suffer from a stare down that will make you regret it!
Trust me, I learned it the hard way...