Having grown up in island countries like the UK and Japan where oceans define country borders, moving to continental Europe was quite a shock for me. The idea of getting into a car and driving across countries was strange enough when I moved from London to Berlin.
Now, almost ten years later, moving to Zurich has taken this novelty to a new level - four bordering countries all reachable within half a day! This has been a real revelation in terms of how weekends and holidays can be planned. Longing for the Mediterranean? Head to Genoa. Gluhwein at a Christmas market? Konstanz is lovely. A special weekend for two? There is plenty of charm in Colmar. The possibilities seem endless.
But it is not just easy access to trips abroad that Switzerland offers. One of the first things you notice upon arrival is the strong regional identities of the cantons, which makes little trips within the country almost as diverse as going abroad.
From Zürich, you can be hiking in Appenzell, swimming in Lake Lucerne, or viewing the Rhine Falls in the same amount of time that it takes to reach Brandenburg from Berlin – and trust me, there is nothing to be excited about in Brandenburg.
So, the Swiss may have the longest working hours in Europe, but quality free time means that rejuvenation is easy. And after "getting away from it all" – even for just an afternoon – I feel refreshed and ready to take on daily life again.
Being centrally located is certainly one aspect of Swiss life that I have grown to appreciate!