Today is the last Monday of the month and last instalment of the Expat Experiences link-up series hosted by Molly of The Move to America. In the past weeks I've reminisced my first days and emotions in Antwerp, the moment I felt at home in Maastricht and shared my thoughts on Tenerife, the place I come from. The prompt for this fourth week is 'The Everyday Experience' and I think it is about time to return to the present moment and reflect upon my everyday life in Switzerland.
It's been almost half a year since I moved to Basel with Boyfriend for good - or at least for a couple of years - and only now I'm finally making myself at home and starting to feel more at ease with the 'for good' part of the deal. After several years living in different countries and moving back to Tenerife in between I've become way too accustomed to novelty, to the thrill of discovering something new every day and the thought of permanently settling down somewhere made me really anxious.
When I've moved somewhere new the first months were always exciting. I had a whole city to uncover, many streets waiting to be walked for the first time, many little shops wanting to be discovered and cafés expecting me to take a seat and taste their unique tea blends. I have yet to find out my favourite spot to sit and read by the river and I have yet to try my new favourite yogurt flavour from the local supermarket. Apparently this is called the honeymoon period of culture shock and I guess it feels almost as good as honeymooning in the Maldives (I can only guess).
The second phase of culture shock is frustration period and I think this is the stage I am currently experiencing in Switzerland. I already knew and liked the city I was moving to, I truly thought I would feel at ease here, so how come I am struggling to make myself at home here? How come I feel trapped in the everyday life? Well, once novelty wore off I was only left with reality and reality is not always a nice place to live. At least not as nice as dreams can be. I am frustrated because I cannot seem to find a job, because I don't understand what people say to me despite being fluent in German (annoying dialects) and because I find myself in some embarrasing situations almost on a daily basis. But above all, I am frustrated because I don't seem to enjoy the good life that Switzerland has to give.
The everyday life is actually a pleasant life and people really enjoy life here. Cultural happenings abound, Swiss cities are enjoyable places to live, most of the times working hours are family-oriented, the possibilities for outdoor activities are almost endless and the nature is breathtaking. I think I'm coming to terms with the fact that I am staying here for the long haul and I'm getting used to my everyday life. I do my grocery shopping, I go for long walks on sunny days, I daytrip to neighbouring cities, I stay in on rainy evenings, I have a favourite eaterie and a list of some other restaurants I still want to try. The third and four stages of culture shock are understanding and biculturalism; maybe I'm already on my way to understanding. Until then, these are some tips that get me through the hurdles of the everyday life.
Enjoy the little things - you're likely to see life through a totally new perspective, so prepare to be amazed (and shocked) and appreciate all those details that make life worth living no matter where. I only discovered the joys of long summer days when I moved abroad; coming from sunny Tenerife I probably took it for granted until then.
Allow yourself some time to get used to it - the everyday life in a foreign country can be puzzling, to say the least, so give yourself some time to adjust to it and don't be to hard on yourself. I am trying ...
Treat yourself every now and then - because adjusting to a new country can be hard, so celebrate the small victories and reward yourself. I love me some chocolate croissant and from time to time I grab one for no reason at all just to remind me that this new everyday can be sweet as well.