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 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 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.
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.
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
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.
“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.
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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