We recently sat down with Mona Vetsch to talk about her latest show. For Auf und davon ("Off we go"), she has portrayed adventurous Swiss who are trying (and not seldomly struggling) to live abroad.
"I never had the urge to emigrate," says Mona Vetsch, the popular Swiss TV and radio host, with a bright smile. "I like to travel all around the world, but I also like to return home since I feel very comfortable in Switzerland. Certainly, there are things that I prefer in foreign countries. But overall, the benefits of living in Switzerland are hard to beat."
For the latest documentary, Auf und davon Spezial, she has visited Canada, South America, and Australia in search of those Swiss emigrants who were portrayed in earlier seasons during the years of 2009 and 2011. How are they doing today? Are they still living abroad? And have they fulfilled their dreams?
Take the Schönbächlers (pictured above): This family of five has been living abroad since 2009, building a new life in Rosswood, Canada. This season, Mona Vetsch is paying them a follow-up visit to see how they have adjusted to the Canadian wilderness.
"I was interested in what made these people leave their home country in the first place," says Vetsch. "Some left in search of a new challenge. Others, like an airline pilot, did not leave voluntarily. And then, there is a third category of people who missed the adventure altogether by living in Switzerland."
Mona Vetsch is a bridge-builder, of sorts.
Mona Vetsch regards herself as a kind of bridge builder: "Getting to know these people through the show lets viewers think of their own relationship they have with their home country."
"So, in the end, our show is also about Switzerland and its residents. Many expats listen to Swiss radio stations abroad or use folklore songs as ringtones on their phones. It happens often that the Swiss abroad ask me to bring fondue cheese, Aromat, chocolate, or other cheese specialties as gifts."
Here is Mona with Duncan and Sandra Gano, two Swiss abroad in Lundbreck, Canada:
Four months in Paris
I am curious if the prospect of anonymity would be a worthy reason for the TV celebrity to move abroad. But once again, she denies: “For that, I do not need to leave Switzerland. Simply traveling to the French part of Switzerland will do the job, since no one knows me there...“
"On the other hand, Swiss Germans often recognize me and start asking me questions like 'Aren't you the lady from the TV show?'. I prefer this straightforward approach to the gossiping behind my back."
Having traveled extensively for previous Swiss TV shows such as Fernweh or einfachluxuriös, Mona Vetsch declares a four-month trip to Paris to be her longest stay abroad. And with an infectious smile, she adds: "Paris is one of my favorite cities. I could easily live there, but then, I wouldn't want to."
(Text by Mohan Mani, photographs copyright SRF)