I Already Miss Switzerland

Since Nick and I decided to leave Switzerland, I’ve started mourning my family, my friends, and all the wonderful Swiss things I’ll miss in New Zealand. It’s a confusing feeling to start missing things and people you still have access to. It’s like my brain decided to start processing the inevitable nostalgia waiting for me in New Zealand to avoid being overwhelmed later. As a result, I feel happy and sad at the same time, eat inordinate amounts of chocolate, and enjoy every minute I have left in Zurich. As if being painfully aware of all the good stuff I’m leaving behind wasn’t enough, I’ve made a list of all of it:

Chocolate

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This is only a third of a random supermarket aisle dedicated to chocolate

Chocolate is one of the only cheap things in Switzerland. You can find a chocolate of superior quality in any supermarket for only 2 CHF. Not only is Swiss chocolate delicious, it also comes in wide variety: nuts, nougat, honey, raisins, almonds, liquor, caramel… There’s always something new to try. I remember how much I missed good chocolate when I lived in the US. After a few months there, my dad finally took pity on my chocolate deprived life and sent me a package. I waited impatiently and asked the postman everyday if he had a package from me. Someone must have smelled the chocolate on the way because I never got it. I begged my dad to send me another one and ate all the chocolate in it in 3 days. I don’t think I’ll be quite that desperate in New Zealand (they have decent chocolate) but I’ll sure be happy if I get a package full of Swiss chocolate.

Cheese

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Cheese in Switzerland is as ubiquitous as dog poo in the streets of Paris. Fondue (melted cheese in a pot where you dip bread), and Raclette (more melted cheese with potato, dried meat and assorted pickles) are both common dishes here. They are easy to cook and make for a great evening with friends. I will pack my caquelon (special pot to make fondue) and my raclette set to New Zealand and spread a new trend for fondue and raclette.

Trams

This is not a typical tram, just a cute little red train that takes Zurich's students to the University

This is not a typical tram, just a cute little red train that takes Zurich’s students to the University

I hate to drive so Zurich’s excellent public transport tremendously improves my quality of life- we don’t even have a car here. In Christchurch, I’ll have to drive and will miss the blue trams from Zurich.

Bike Paths

My beloved bike

My beloved bike

From March to October, I bike to work almost every day. It’s a great way to stay fit and closer to nature. It doesn’t feel too dangerous to bike in Zurich because most roads have a bike path that drivers actually respect.

The Christmas Atmosphere

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Switzerland is the best place to be in December. Snow is usually falling, Christmas lights illuminate the city, and the streets smell like Gluhwein and roasted chestnuts. I can’t imagine feeling in a Christmas mood in the middle of Summer.

Comfortable, well-heated apartments

Since it never gets terribly cold in New Zealand, houses tend to have thin walls and bad heating. According to this article from a Kiwi blogger,

It is a New Zealand tradition to freeze your tits and toes and nips off. Our society is built on being really cold for much of our lives. (…)

Foreigners coming to New Zealand often catch diseases from getting up in the morning and finding that if it’s 3 degrees outside, it’s 3 degrees in the bathroom.

Just reading the above extract makes me shiver. I can’t imagine having a shower in the morning if it’s 3 degrees in the bathroom. Nick, terrified at the thought of me refusing to shower throughout the winter there, promised he’d build a house with good isolation and excellent heating for us. He also got used to Swiss standards of comforts and can’t imagine going back to being cold all the time.

Cleanliness

“Dirt is international. Cleanliness is from Switzerland.” says the toilet towel dispenser from CWS. This slogan is unexpectedly undiplomatic and bragging for a Swiss company, but it might be true. Switzerland is the cleanest place I’ve been. The water is pure and tastes good, the air is not polluted, the streets are almost spotless, and so are public toilets. It’s something you get used to. I never thought of Nice as a dirty place, for example. However, after 3 years in Switzerland, I feel like I’m in a kind of dump every time I go back: dog poo, trash littering the streets, dirty public transport. Living in a clean place makes you realise how much better daily life is when things are clean.

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It’s hard to leave a place you love. But the exciting prospects waiting for us in New Zealand and knowing that we can always come back make it easier.

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45 thoughts on “I Already Miss Switzerland

  1. You summed up Switzerland very well. I lived in Lugano many years ago and still miss it. How was your first Christmas in in Kiwiland (or were you there then?) and did you find raclette cheese? We were in Zurich/Appenzel in May and fell in love with Appenzeller and while we can’t get that in the States, we found Zwack (made in Zurick). You’ll find amazing things to fall in love with in NZ.

  2. Je suis sûre que tu te plairas en NZ :) le pays a l’air magnifique, l’océan, les lacs, les montagnes, les prairies, les villes aussi. Moins peuplée que la Suisse, plus d’espace et peut-être un mode de vie plus simple, toutes choses qui m’attirent là-bas. Quant au chocolat, au fromage, tu en trouveras d’autres sortes, une viande très bonne et plein d’autres choses genre poissons de mer… Prépare des aiguilles à tricoter, il y a de la laine… pour les petits matins frisquets ;)
    Je te souhaite bonne chance Cécile et me réjouis de te lire tout bientôt depuis tout là-bas.

  3. It is always hard moving – I think it is the one of the big downsides to being international…no matter where you go there is always something to miss! It’s never easy to move but I’m sure you’ll have a great time in NZ. I never spent much time in Christchurch but I can report that in general NZ is quite clean and pristine and they do have some really good cheeses that they make so at least you won’t be too desperate! (they are quite expensive though) Once, we were in the North Island we even found Raclette at a cheese shop – never fear! (well except maybe the insulation thing…fear that…it is true…I remember seeing my breath in the air of my living room while watching TV. Invest in space heaters!) :)

  4. I only live a few countries away and I miss Swiss cheese so much I have a raclette maker here… such a true post Cecile. I guess the one thing I appreciate now is that home feels like such a special place now that I am gone. Anything I found boring, tedious or took for granted when I lived there is now something refreshing and familiar when I go back to the States. Hopefully you will find the same!

    • I agree with you, Jess: Home feels even more special when we’re away. And time spent with the family also sooms to have more value when it’s only a few days a year… I already noticed that in Nice, and now it will be the same for Switzerland, no doubt :-)
      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. I hear you on this point. I left my home in Toronto (age 25) for 8 months on a journalism fellowship, leaving behind friends, family, career, dog, boyfriend. I cried so hard I could barely get on the plane, but mostly because I knew I would (and did) return a totally changed person in many ways. My life was much improved by that terrifying step, as I am sure NZ will be for you as well.

    I spent a few weeks alone in NZ, North Island only, in 1998 and have rarely been so moved by a country and the kindness of its people. It is spectacularly beautiful, filled with birds and animals and trees and flowers you will never have seen before, black sand beaches, and a kind of welcome that is very rare. If you have not yet watched these two great NZ films, rent The Piano and Whale Rider, both about brave, strong women.

    As for the cold, with all those sheep, I bet they make great sweaters!

    With Matthew and Family Matters, you already have local blog friends waiting!

    • I will be alone on the plane for my trip to Christchurch, so I’ll have plenty of time to cry my eyes out. You’re right, NZ, its nature, and its people are wonderful. I will check out The Piano and Whale Rider. I guess it’s also about hight time I watched The Lord of The Ring!

      And yes, I’m happy to have made 2 connexions already through my blog. That’s such a rewarding side of blogging.

      Thanks for your encouraging comments, Caitlin!

  6. NZ’s great if you imagine it’s Middle Earth :-)

    I was born here (in New Zealand) but via English descent. Years ago, my sister moved from New Zealand to the Netherlands. A complete culture shock. But now adapted and has family there. They sent us a raclette for Christmas some years ago, which we enjoyed using.

    The New Zealand housing insulation problem certainly affects older houses. Newer houses have proper insulation and double glazing. Um, usually. :-)

  7. You make me miss Switzerland too! (I was only in Zurich once for a day, but man was it clean). You’ve pretty much sold me with the cheese and chocolate. Of course, I suppose I’ll have to learn to ride a bike if I’m going to work all that off.

    Choosing something new is hard. Part of you may always wonder what the alternative-universe-you is doing in Switzerland. But I find it helps to remember that there is no right or wrong choice. Sometimes you just have to follow your gut and (the part I’m still working on) try to live in the present.

    With your adventurous spirit and Nick by your side, I have no doubt you’ll feel at home in Christchurch in no time.

    • If there’s one thing you’d appreciate in Switzerland, it’s the public transport ;-)
      “Part of you may always wonder what the alternative-universe-you is doing in Switzerland.” You’re so right about that. I often think about all my alternative-mes… Maybe i should write a book about them!

      Thanks for your cheering comments, Jill.

  8. Très joli article Cécile!
    Finalement le mode de vie des suisses n’est pas très éloigné de celui des français…Il n’y a pas que des crottes de chiens sur les trottoirs, on a aussi des trams et le magnifique funiculaire du sacré-coeur,les marrons grillés et le vin chaud dans les rues à Noel, la raclette et la fondue bien entendu car ce sont des plats traditionnels français stp ;) et du chocolat belge!Non la je te charrie, j’adore le Lindt! t’as goûté celui au rhum raisins ? une tuerie comme on dit par chez nous…
    Bon, prochain article que tu écris quand tu seras en NZ:
    “why I don’t miss Switzerland!” Chiche?

    • Lol, je dis toujours que la fondue et la raclette sont des plats français pour embêter les Suisses :-)
      Mais en fait, une recherche sur Wikipedia a confirmé que ce sont bien des spécialités suisses!

      J’adore le Côte d’or mais on n’en trouve pas en ici; peut-être en NZ? Le Lindt Rhum raisin, pas encore essayé mais ca me tente bien…

      Why I don’t miss Switzerland? J’espère bien!

  9. Ohmygod,cecile! That was an amazing list. It just goes to show how perfect zurich would be for me to settle in life. Cleanliness is something I adore and that is extremely hard to come by in India. I’m not maligning my country in any way because I know I will be homesick once I leave the country in the future. Chocolates!!! That makes my mouth water. My trainer won’t allow me anywhere near switzerland if she sees that picture or your lovely description of all the varieties. Christmas!! I’ve always wanted to experience christmas…a white one at that…in New York. Heard its resplendent. You just added to the list by making Zurich the most sought after destination in my bucket list. Cheese! I love cheese although I’m not allowed to go near it right now. Cheese is a symbol of happiness and good times for me. The bright yellow color never fails to excite me.

    Awwww….I feel you. Leaving home is hard. And such a beautiful city too. But what’s fortunate here is that christchurch sounds equally delightful. I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing NZ through your eyes. I’m sure you and prince charmnick will make a beautiful home in NZ. Just stay close to the heaters. I wouldn’t want your fingers to freeze too much that you can’t type! Yikes!

    Love,xoxoxoxo

    • Yes, Christmas in New York is another wonderland. But I prefer the one in Zurich: the lights and the opulent xmas trees and the atmosphere… All even better here :-)

      I hope you’ll get to travel to New York and to Switzerland soon. It’ll give you plenty of things to write about. Thanks for your cheering comment, Iris!
      xo

  10. I am betting you adjust to it all. Cleanliness and temperature are two very important things. But, if you build your own house, then heat will be there and keep it clean, so you have something around you clean.
    I have to disagree with you about the chocolate in the US – I love it! All the different types and you can get real Swiss chocolate, just expensive.
    Scott

  11. I cannot wait to experience your Swiss wonderland in just a few days! And get to meet you of course. Our timing couldn’t have worked out better. :) Enjoy all that Switzerland has to offer and if the tale of Brownilocks has taught me anything, you’ll see it again someday.

  12. I completely understand how you feel! When I moved to London from NZ, I went through all the same things you are -except that London is a very exciting place to be!

    I can reassure you as to the state of NZ chocolate and cheese. Check out these people: http://www.bennettsofmangawhai.com/ Interesting trivial fact about NZ and chocolate – when Hershey’s started selling in NZ they had to change their recipe for their chocolate to include more cream to suit the NZ palate :-) As for cheese, well, there aren’t quite as many cows in NZ as there are sheep (40 million), but there are still more cows than people (9.9 million vs 4.1 million).

    The air is very clear and although there is some pollution ( a little smog on winter evenings) it is mostly excellent. And I think the blogger above exaggerated a little about the state of NZ houses – most are very well insulated, and AC is coming in a lot more here now too. In Christchurch, you’re lucky enough to get snow in the winter, and 30 degree C heat in summer – best of both worlds!

    I must admit, our Christmas dinner lends itself to cold ham and turkey, salads, meringues, pavlova, Christmas mince pies and cake, and for the diehards, Christmas pudding. It wasn’t until my first Christmas in the UK (when it snowed) that I understood how a hot Christmas dinner works. Of course the best part of NZ is the people :-)

    I think it is totally normal to mourn for what you are going to miss about the place you live. It leads you through the next stage – acceptance – and then on to enjoyment of the new place! How much longer do you have in Switzerland?

    • Thanks for sharing your positive thoughts on New Zealand, Lisa Rose. I love how proud of their country Kiwis are, and rightly so :-)

      With more sheep and cows than inhabitants, NZ shouldn’t let me down cheesewise. For the chocolate, I’ll wait and taste as much chocolate as I can find before making up my mind.

      The weather in Christchurch is actually better than in Zurich, and to me, it is an exciting place to be. And even though I’ll miss Switzerland, my family, and my friends, I’m confident I’ll make new friends in NZ and I’ll also get to be a part of Nick’s family.

      I have 11 days left in Zurich, then 10 more days in Nice, and then I’ll be in Christchurch already!

      We should definitely meet up for coffee in Christchurch or in Auckland sometime! Let me know if you’re around, and I’ll let you know when I come to visit Auckland :)

  13. Alors là, je te rejoins! je suis en manque de chocolat et de fromage, je te dis pas comment!!!!!! alors, quand je trouve la rare barre de chèvre, je me jette dessus! quand je pense que tu vis au pays du chocolat et du fromage! et que tu décides d’aller vivre ailleurs! ;-) à moi aussi ma mère envoie régulièrement des paquets remplis de victuailles (hourra lorsque le saucisson passe la douane en cachette dans un paquet; ça n’a pas marché dans sa valise, ils l’ont récupéré…) mais le fromage, on ne peut vraiment pas.

    Profite pendant que tu es encore là! après, tu auras plein d’autres délices à découvrir!
    :D

    • C’est terrible d’être en manque de chocolat et de fromage!
      Je pense que le plus difficile à trouver en Amérique est vraiment le chocolat. Tant mieux si ta maman t’envoie des petits colis bien remplis. Ca fait toujours chaud au coeur et puis ça permet de se retrouver à la maison pour quelques instants.

      Heureusement, la nourriture en NZ est super fraîche et vraiment bonne, alors je ne m’inquiète pas trop :)

  14. OK, I really REALLY want to go to Zurich now!!

    Before leaving New York for Grenoble, I did the same thing. I started missing everyone; everything! I remember crying in the park in Lower Manhattan while walking to work, seeing how beautiful everything was (yeah, it was Springtime in NYC! Didn’t help! I guess it’s like December in Zurich!).

    I am still constantly sick because of the lack of heating in our apartment (I always had great heat.. and AC.. for my entire life in NY). Cold bathroom, exactly! I am glad your man will take care of the heating. Get those mini plug-in heaters until you can get larger, more efficient ones.

    It is fine to start missing Z already, but don’t let it drag you down. Every new place you live in opens your mind and enlightens you. NZ will be yet another great experience– it will also be another place you will one day miss!

    And if you ever need chocolate or nougat… N’hésites pas de me demander. :)

    • I also started crying walking in the city a few times, suddenly overwhelmed by the realisation of everything I’m about to leave behind. I’m glad I’m not the only one :-)

      I can imagine how hard it must have been to leave NYC… Even though I know it’s not the right place for me to live, I still miss it and sometimes wish I could hop on the next plane there.

      Thanks for the tip about the heater, i’ll keep it in mind. And many thanks for your very tempting nougat and chocolate offer :)

  15. One of my Basel-based friends was flying over to London for work training and asked me if there was anything from Switzerland that she could bring? Four months after leaving Basel and it turns out I miss those supermarket-brand Rösti sachets (Röstis are a type of potato fritter).
    I also miss the Alps and being mere hours away from other gorgeous European cities, Britain is very dull in comparison.
    Good luck with the transition – there will be plenty of unique and beautiful things to discover in NZ, I’m certain of that.

  16. Hello,
    I don’t think you’ll miss what you think you’ll miss! Cheese.. NZ makes some fabulous cheese. Bikes… they do them better & more. Cleanliness… NZ is like a beautifully kept golf course (and compared to my home here in Geneva, it is heavenly clean). What you will miss is family, your time zone, your language, and yes maybe Christmas cold. But there is so much you are absolutely going to love.
    I know!
    Ali in Geneva
    who comes from Australia
    so understands what you feel, from the reverse direction

    • Hi Ali,
      Of course, I will miss my family and my friends the most and there will be nothing to replace them in New Zealand. But I hope to make new friends, and to find new things to love :-)
      Thanks for your reassuring comment. I hope you’re having a good time in Geneva- do you miss Australia a lot?

  17. Chocolate and raclette! I’m so hungry now, I want to hop a plane to Switzerland ASAP!

    “It’s like my brain decided to start processing the inevitable nostalgia waiting for me in New Zealand to avoid being overwhelmed later.”–I can really relate to that feeling. Before I left Chicago, I spent two months mooning and sighing over every good thing I was leaving behind. I visited every museum and savored all of my favorite foods.

    And so much of your New Zealand description reminds me of South Africa! Beachy, warm Christmases, poor insulation. But what an adventure! All of the differences you’re describing are the very things that will heighten your experiences in New Zealand. I can’t wait to read about your new discoveries and adventures. In the meantime, I wouldn’t blame you if you started hoarding chocolate. One suitcase full wouldn’t be too much, would it? ;)

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one mooning and sighing over every good thing I’m leaving behind. I also started doing it when we took the decision to leave for good.

      I wish i could bring a suitcase full of chocolate but I’m only allowed 23 kilos… We’ll also have a container that will arrive 3 months later. I could have a box full of chocolate in there I suppose :-)

  18. You had me at the chocolate :-) I have been thinking of taking a trip to Switzerland for years, but in the end, we always go to Paris. You make me want to go to Switzerland!

    I know what you mean about not feeling in a Christmas mood when it’s warm. We live in Illinois, and it’s usually cold and snowy at this time of year. This year, it’s unseasonably warm and really doesn’t feel like Christmas, but Christmas carols, Christmas cookies, wrapping presents, and the sounds of Christmas help.

    I think you’ll find that New Zealand will be a great adventure as every new place is. Have a wonderful Christmas!

    Sandy

    • Hi Sandy,
      Switzerland is definitely worth a visit, and it’s only 4 hours away from Paris with the TGV ;-)

      We have a wonderful Christmas atmosphere this year in Zurich: tons of snow, beautifully lit city, and the smells and sounds of Christmas everywhere. But you’re right, in the end, there’s much more to Christmas than cold.
      Have a lovely Christmas too and thanks for stopping by :-)

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