Posts in American Life

American Events: Cinco de Mayo

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

So.

This is a weird one.

Imagine Swiss people would celebrate a battle that one of their neighboring countries had won. And it wasn’t even an “important” one (historians chill out, I mean it wasn’t bringing them independence or anything). I honestly think that Americans just love Mexican food and drinks and found a good enough reason to celebrate this holiday to allow them to eat/drink even more of it on one specific day (and I do totally GET IT, I LOVE MEXICO and its culture and food too). But let me elaborate on the topic a little more.

The facts (for the historians amongst you, otherwise skip to the party ideas below)

What it is: Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that celebrates the date of the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). While the holiday is not that important in Mexico itself (it’s not a federal holiday so offices, banks and stores are still open) it is HUGE in the US where it has evolved into a commemoration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations. Some of the largest festivals are held in LA, Chicago and Houston.

What it isn’t: Many people outside Mexico mistakenly believe that Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of Mexican independence, which is celebrated on September 16.

How to host your own Cinco de Mayo party?

Almost any bar, pub or café here will have a mexican-related drink or food item on offer on the day. Not to mention the craziness going on in Mexican restaurants and eateries. If you’re into Mexican food as much as I am, I’ll help you out with a few starter ideas on how to create and host your own Cinco de Mayo party, ok?

Drinks

If you want to be a little more original and don’t want to opt for a Margarita go for a Paloma instead. It’s a drink that I’ve gotten to know during our travels in Mexico. Here’s how you can do it at home:

Paloma Recipe 

  • Ice
  • 1 1/2 ounces 100 percent agave reposado tequila
  • Juice of 1/2 medium lime
  • Grapefruit-flavored soda (or just a bit of squeezed grapefruit juice in sparkly water) 

Food

I mean. You choose.

Mole Poblano, Tamales, Nachos, Enchiladas, Quesadillas, Tacos, Chilaquiles and the list goes on.

Check out Bon Appétit’s nice overview of recipes here that aren’t all Tacos (even though they are obviously DELICIOUS). Or the ones over at delish.com here, just because the photos will make you HUNGRY.

A must is obviously freshly made Guacamole, check out if there’s a local Mexican shop that sells good homemade tortilla chips to go with it or make them at home by simply cutting up tortillas and roast them in the oven. But obviously for convenience’s sake, buy them.

Music

Without meaning to sound cliché but you should listen to some Mariachi music, which is obviously a classic choice for the event at hand.

You’ll find two of my all time favorites below:

There are plenty of interesting young and (more modern) artists but I somehow love the old songs a lot too. Are you going to celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

 

A Day In Providence (Serious Doughnut Testing Included)

Hi folks,

my dear friends visited two weeks ago and after a couple of days spent in Boston we thought it’d be interesting to leave the state and go discover other places. One of them was Providence, RI.

Easy to reach via train or car from Boston, Providence is the capital of the smallest State of the United States and makes for a nice day trip destination. Home to the renowned creative institution that is the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD for the insiders) and the ivy league school Brown University with its beautiful historic campus, the place boasts with young and creative people.

Last but not least, there’s an amazing A-M-A-Z-I-N-G doughnut place, in case you’re interested in things like that.

Let the photo show commence. Happy Wednesday friends!

Doughnut heaven

Every good day starts with a substantial breakfast, at least in my books. So we went to the one and only option when in Providence, to Knead Doughnuts. They make three different types of doughnut dough. And OH. MY. All of them are very delicious. Try them!

Pretending to be a student at Brown University…

..unfortunately Emma Watson isn’t a student there anymore though. I would have liked to talk with her about the casting choices of the prince in Beauty and The Beast.

Major artsy cool kids alert

All those artsy and cool people at the RISD, too cool for school.

Overall, we’ve had a very nice day and were blessed with beautiful weather (really a blessing, if you live here you’ll know what I mean). What are your favorite day trip destinations where you live?

Happy Wednesday!

A Road Trip Down Cape Cod

Hello everyone,

I know know. Another touristy post today.

But. We went to just too many pretty places and who knows, if you ever come around to visiting the States, you’ll know where to go.

After the day we’d spent in Providence we opted for a second road trip, this time down along the coast with the goal of getting to the famous Cape Cod. Why is it famous? Well, it’s basically THE BEACH people. Who doesn’t like the beach.

Back to the Cape Cod.

The Cape is extending into the Atlantic from the southeastern corner of Massachusetts. Its historic, maritime character and ample beaches attract heavy tourism during the summer months. You’ll find everything, from little fishing villages, towns in the forests, whale spotting on the coast. On the way to our end destination that was Provincetown, we’ve stopped in Plymouth to look at the famous rock the Pilgrims are said to have embarked on when first arriving in the States (VERY disappointing btw, don’t go if you’re thinking about it. It’s. A. SMALL. ROCK. ON. THE. GROUND.). We then made a quick stop in the beautiful little town of Sandwich, where we’ve explored the well-known boardwalk. Absolutely beautiful.

Sandwich Boardwalk 

We’ve had lunch in a little café in the center of Provincetown and were so so super lucky to spot whales on a beach where we went to afterwards. HOW LUCKY ARE WE? Whales are my favorite animals! It was an overall unforgettable day!

 

My NYC Food Guide

Friends!

I went to New York last week and was BLOWN AWAY. Yet again. Like everytime actually. This city is just so powerful in every possible way.

Overwhelming, huge, intense, never boring, exciting, multifaceted, a little intimidating, and the list goes on. How would you describe your experience in New York if you’ve ever visited before? I’d love to know in the comments below.

All of the adjectives listed above actually also apply to a specific field I want to cover today: The food. I once read that you could have dinner every day of your life at a restaurant in NYC and never nearly have seen everything. There are just SO many restaurants and places to get food. Crazy.

In order to help you out a little here (and for my own memory keeping) I thought I’d collect my favorite food spots in NYC, especially the ones I got to try during my last visit around.

Breakfast of dreams

I am a breakfast person. That’s what I am.

It’s a good thing actually. Except when I want to eat everything on a menu. It’s definitely the meal I feel I can eat the most. So.

If you’re into breakfast as much as me and find yourself in the Midtown area, definitely check out Penelope. It’s a beautiful place with a neighboorhoody feel to it and the most MOST delicious French Toast and pancakes ever. The omelettes and eggs were great, too, I was told. I wasn’t too interested in them though, my main focus clearly being on the French Toast and pancakes. Normal. 

If you’re into the whole French bistro ambiance thing gone NYC style, you have to go for brunch at Balthazar.

Is it bad that I got to know about this place because of an actress (hey Mindy Kaling) that once posted a delicious photo of when she visited? The good thing is that it brought me there, right?

Anways, it’s a beautiful place in Soho where I’ve had the best Eggs Florentine of my life (ok, haven’t had that many so far but it was D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S). My mouth is watering right now. Did I even tell you that I am trying out to go vegan for this and next week as a little experiment. Already missing those eggs. Not a good sign I guess. Anyways, I’m regressing. If you still want to get your sweet fix but the place is full (reservations highly recommended), fear not, I have a solution for you. They have a little tucked-away bakery (LOVELY) next to the restaurant where you can get the best orangy brioche and pain of chocolat. HEAVENLY.

Coffee Stop

We were lucky enough to stay at the Ace Hotel in Midtown (beautiful hotel) but were even luckier to find out that there was a Stumptown Coffeebar inside the lobby. We obviously had coffee there EVERY DAY as it just was the perfect cup of coffee. I know I know by now you think, woman, relax, don’t get excited as much as that. But it was just so perfect. Please, do me a favor and go to one of the Stumptown places if you’re ever in New York. Ok? Thanks.

Light Lunch Fusion Style

We were walking lots everyday (we were visiting with my parents btw) and after having had good breakfast/brunches we’d rather keep lunches light or skip them after all only to have a little snack in the afternoon so that we could fully enjoy our dinners in the evenings.

A good place to have a light lunch however and that we all loved was Momofuku Nishi. It’s the one Momofuku restaurant that offers Asian cuisine with an Italian twist. Yup. Sounds interesting. Tastes delicious. Try it!

It’s Dinner Time

Oh Oh Oh. The dinners we had. Let me start with the first one.

It’s not a glamorous place, quite the contrary actually. But it’s such a good experience and such an iconic one, too. I’m talking about Katz’s Delicatessen. If you’ve ever been in New York but haven’t visited Katz’s, please do it next time you go and find yourself in the amazing LES. The atmosphere is just so much fun and the food is…well..nourishing! Not suited for vegans though might I add.

Jack’s Wife Freda: Beautiful little spot in West Village with small but delicious menu. GO!

Tacombi: I mean. Who doesn’t love Mexican food? No one, right? Tacombi is an oldie but goodie. I’ve almost always had at least one meal at Tacombi while being in New York. We went to the spot in Nolita and if you try to come a bit earlier than the big crowd (around 6.30 pm) you’ll easily get a table. Oh the food. Pure bliss.

Two other great places worth visiting are Egg Shop and The Butcher’s Daughter! Let me know if you have any other ‘must’ places in NYC, I’d love to hear!

5 Things That Are More Expensive in Switzerland Than In The US

Hello everyone,

I am back! I don’t know if that excites you as much as it does excite me but. I. AM. BACK. Forreals (in normal words: Blogging 5 times a week again).

I’ve had the best three weeks ever and will be sure to report on the many great discoveries and experiences we’ve made over the course of the next days, let me start with this topic today however. You might remember, I had posted about 5 things that actually were more expensive in the US in comparison to Switzerland (yes, such things exist, read about it here if you haven’t already) and thought it was now about time to reverse the spiel again. If you think I’ve missed out on something, do let me know in the comments below.

Gym memberships

While I am surely no expert on this topic as a) I was a lazy slob back in Zurich and had never stepped foot in a gym there and b) because I always thought they were rather expensive when it came to memberships and thus preferred to go run outside.

Well, you surely cannot say that gym memberships are expensive around where we live in the US. For as little as $10 per month you can get access to a totally fine gym in Cambridge, sounds crazy right? I did a bit of research and saw that a comparable gym in Zurich offered a three months membership for CHF 329.-

So here goes your first fun fact: Gyms are more expensive in Switzerland than in the US (or at least where we live in MA).

Going to the movies

While an admission to a movies theatre here in Boston will cost you between $9.75 and $13.99 it will definitely cost you way more in Switzerland (around CHF 19.- upwards, is that still correct? I am an expat, help me). Conclusion: Going to the movies in the US is cheaper than in Switzerland.

Fuelling your car

This one is not an especially interesting one as it is one a lot of people expect but OH MY LORD. How cheap is it to fill your car with gas here? It’s insanely cheap. Here goes a comparison for you (according to the latest stats from Bloomberg):

The average price of a liter of gas in the US in Q1 2017 is $0.68.

The average price of a liter of gas in Switzerland in Q1 2017 is $1.42.

Eating out

I get it, Americans. You generally value convenience and food and therefore like to eat out a lot more than we Europeans do (not based on any scientific evidence, just my feeling). What helps is that eating out generally speaking is not as expensive as in Europe. Obviously this won’t apply to everywhere and any type of restaurants but generally speaking for an easy lunch or dinner at a nice place you will end up spending less I would say. Of course there’s the tip that will add up in the end but still, I find that we also eat out more here than we did in Switzerland.

Do you like to eat out? 

Coffee/Cocktails

Again, I’m sure this won’t apply to any type of drinks and type of locals but generally I would say that besides being more creative with their cocktails they also cost less in the US in comparison to Switzerland. Same goes for the coffee. However, while coffee in the US might often not be as good as in Switzerland it also costs less per cup as it does in Switzerland.

What else do you think is (too) expensive in Switzerland in comparison to other places you’ve travelled?

Have a great week and talk to you tomorrow! Byeee!

My First Baseball Game: The Report

Hi friends,

long time no see, how are you? I have been enjoying having my friends around me for the last week. We’ve had a wonderful time and I am really thankful for having them in my life, they’re just the BEST. Fortunately, the weather has also been amazing (it’s going to change back to ‘meh’ tomorrow though) so we were able to do cool little roadtrips off to Providence and the Cape (more on that to follow).

In the meantime, one of the dare I say, most interesting experiences of the week was catching a Red Sox game at the iconic Fenway Park.

Thanks again to my former co-workers and team at Publicis who actually gave us those tickets as a gift. Thank you! 

As seeing a baseball game (especially one of the Red Sox) is such an iconic part of Bostonian life I thought that I had to cover it here and tell you a little bit more about it. I feel that we Europeans have NO clue about baseball. So, you ready? Let’s get started!

The Red Sox and Fenway Park

The Red Sox are a baseball team based in Boston that has been founded in 1901 and calls Fenway Park (with its about 38’000 seats) its home ballpark since 1912. The Red Sox’s arch enemy are the Yankees.

The experience and the food

I mean, you’re in America. You’ll have LOTS of food and drinks options everywhere around. We obviously went for Fenway Franks (hot dogs), fries and beer. BTW, they are pretty liberal it seems with the beer consumption in the stadium, which is a nice change to the rather strict alcohol policy in the city.

The preferred sweets (besides all the possible candy you could think of like M&Ms etc.) seemed to be cotton candy and soft ice cream. Fun times. We definitely didn’t starve.

The game

Is baseball possibly the most complicated sport ever? I feel like there are so many statistics and strange rules (that I obviously don’t know) that make it kind of hard to follow. More on that a bit further down below. So. Long story short: I will actually spare you the details on the whole rules and strategy as I personally found it rather boring.

If you really want to know more about it and about all the stats and stuff check this site out (if you’re really serious about itor the corresponding wikipedia entry for a more softer version.

What I can tell you is that (even I understood that) the Red Sox played terribly and lost 10-5 against the Tampa Bay Rays. Info over.

The music

O-M-G. The music. SO. MUCH. fun.

My favorite part besides the snacks and the overall fun atmosphere must have been the music.

I was super surprised to find out that the players are actually allowed to choose their music when they play. And dare I say, it seems that they are big Kanye and Drake fans.

Absolutely go and check the player music out here. It’s so fun (how many times am I going to say that). Still, that’s one thing I find they could take over for soccer games, how funny would that be?

Also, Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond is an anthem for the Red Sox and of course they played it when we were there, so I had to record it. Loving the couple next to us that is super happy about it and singing along.

Why I kind of don’t like baseball

While I really liked the atmosphere, the food, the music and the people I didn’t leave Fenway park as a new fan. I find that the game itself is quite boring (baseball fans don’t hate me), slow and not creative. It’s the same kind of predictable moves on repeat except that you don’t know if they are going to hit the ball or miss it (which by the way they miss A LOT).

Still, I would warmly recommend it to anyone visiting the city as it is such a unique overall experience sitting in such an old and traditional place like Fenway Park.

Thanks again Publicis Team! And talk to you next week.

American Events: The Boston Marathon

Hi everyone, wassup?

I think I might have found out what seems to be the most important sports event in the Bostonian calendar (besides Super Bowl): The Boston Marathon. It’s a holiday actually as the race is held on Patriot’s Day. Ergo: People are happy to have a day off and use it to join the celebrations in the city. It’s a huge party in other words!

Reasons enough to share little bits and bobs about its history with you today as it will be happening next Monday.

How it all started and why the race is always on a Monday

John Graham, who was inspired by the marathon at the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896, wanted to have a marathon in Boston, too. With the help of a friend, he planned out a route throughout the city and its surroundings and got started. The first marathon took place on April 19, 1897.

Fifteen runners started the race but only 10 made it to the finish line. Oops.

Originally, the Boston Marathon was held on Patriot’s Day, April 19, a regional holiday that commemorates the beginning of the Revolutionary War. In 1969, Patriots Day was officially moved to the third Monday in April and the race has been held on that Monday ever since.

The first woman running the marathon (as a man)…

Women were not allowed to enter the Boston race officially until 1972 (what, booh), but Roberta “Bobbi” Gibb couldn’t wait: In 1966, she became the first woman to run the entire Boston Marathon, but had to hide in the bushes near the start until the race began. In 1967, Kathrine Switzer, who had registered as “K. V. Switzer”, was the first woman to run with a race number. Switzer finished even though officials tried to physically remove her from the race after she was identified as a woman.

Only in 1971 were women allowed to enter in the marathon. One year after that, Nina Kuscsik became the first official female participant to win the Boston Marathon.

The bombings in 2013

On April 15, 2013, two bombs went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three spectators and wounding more than 260 other people. Four days later, the police captured 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, whose older brother and fellow suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, died following a shootout with law enforcement earlier that same day. Tsarnaev was found guilty in 2015 of helping carry out the attack, as well as fatally shooting a policeman and was sentenced to death.

Why Boston/Cambridge Is a Great Place for Curious People

Hello everyone

I want to talk about curiosity today.

It’s something I’ve been thinking about lately, especially since having moved to Boston/Cambridge. I think that it is a great place to live if you are a curious person and appreciate being surrounded by an innovative and intellectually inspiring environment. Why that is you ask? Find out more below:

The “Athens of America”

Boston got this nickname due to its over 100 educational facilities and its big teaching and student population. Also, many of the universities and colleges (e.g. Harvard University or MIT) are considered amongst the best in the world.

Students EVERYWHERE (making me feel old, thanks)

With over 250,000 college students living within Boston/Cambridge, they account for 1/3rd of the total population. In other words, lots of young people around (making me feel old, not cool. Happy for them of course. But still.)

A City of Book Lovers and Book Stores

Although the Library of Congress contains the most volumes in the whole country (more than 29,550,000), Harvard University’s Library is second with more than 15,000,000 and the Boston Public Library is third with more than 14,000,000. So many books, right? Also, there are SO MANY book stores especially in Cambridge with lots of events going on all the time. Take the Harvard Book Store for example, alone in the month of April it will be holding 27 events, amongst them with world-known authors, professors or personalities such as Sheryl Sandberg, Noam Chomsky to name a few.

The startup scene is going strong

With nearly 2,000 startups in all possible fields ((bio)technology, medical, etc.) the city is considered a world leader in innovation and entrepreneurship and rightly so. I’ve already met quite a few people (when I did small talk. Because that’s a way to learn things. Also a great way to “use” your curiosity as it is considered acceptable to ask lots of questions when doing small talk. Ok, long excursus over) telling me about amazing start ups they were working for. One girl (I sadly don’t remember the name of the organization) was working in a startup that was developing a tool that prevents people from dying from internal bleeding that could be used in war but also first aid situations, which I thought was really interesting (I’m sure I’ve done a terrible job at explaining as it was quite medical but the essence is, people do interesting stuff here).

Talks and Presentations to choose from everyday

One of the things that I enjoy the most here is the vast array and choice of presentations, talks and conferences you can attend literally EVERY day. If you wanted you could spend days only visiting MIT and Harvard public lectures (just to name two that I’ve gotten to know a bit better, there are tons of other colleges/institutes with their own stuff too).

It’s seriously a privilege being able to listen to so many intelligent and inspiring people that come to those institutions. So far, I’ve seen the mayor of the City of Boston talk about urban planning and the city’s future development, the mayor of Mexico City (a lot of mayors I know realize) giving a lecture on urban challenges and climate change or attended a conference on everyday feminism at Harvard Law School. I’ve seen Noam Chomsky and former Foreign Secretary of the UK, Mr. Straw talking about Brexit and Trump at MIT. It’s been super interesting and rewarding having the time to actually go to those lectures.

Today’s take away for you

If today’s post has a take away it should be that I’d encourage you to check out if the universities or other institutions in your city offer public talks and presentations that you could attend (if you’re interested in the topic that is).

For all of my Boston located friends who aren’t already familiar with those links, you’ll find the events calendars of Harvard University and MIT below.

Have a lovely day and remember:

A life without curiosity is quite simply a boring life.

How To Talk Like An American

Hello friends, how are you today?

A common question I get asked by my Swiss friends is how I get along with the language.

My answer will usually be, I get along well except for the odd moment where I’ll be searching for a very specific word. In Switzerland we get taught British English (if I remember correctly, it’s been a few years) so I wanted to dive into how you can start talking American English (if that is something you are interested in, if you aren’t I TOTALLY understand). Let’s get started, shall we? 

Instead of going through all the (real serious) details I recommend you going over to wikihow to read the article related to this topic here. If you’re interested that is. You’ll find my favorite recommendations according to wikihow down below with my added comments.

American phrases you “should” know*

  • “Awesome” and “cool” -> used to describe something great or used as a positive reaction to something someone tells you.
  • “What’s up?” or “Sup” -> used to ask someone what they’re doing, how they are, and as a general greeting. It’s fine to use casually with friends. It’s most often used by young men (haha, the last part made me lol).
  • “Hanging out” is spending time somewhere or with someone. It’s a phrase often used by teenagers to describe how they pass time and socialize, often without one particular activity or aim (again, major lol moment).
  • “Y’all” is a contraction of “You all”, the second person plural mode of directly addressing a group of people. It is used primarily in the Southern States, but is acceptable in other regions.

Say it loud, say it proud

“Try to speak a ‘little’ louder when you’re talking to someone in America. It’s perfectly acceptable over in the States, and it creates an atmosphere of congeniality.” I really had to giggle a little when I saw that.

Use ‘like’ in (almost) EVERY sentence

I’m like don’t do that, she was like no way am I going to that party. And so on. You get the gist.  It’s called the “quotative like,” and over the last 25 years, it’s become one of the language’s most popular methods of talking about talking. Yes, that’s a thing. 

Are you all ready to speak American English now after this thorough introduction?

Have a great day!

5 Things That Are More Expensive In The US Than in Switzerland

Hi everyone,

When recognized as a Swiss person, people sometimes ask me how great it must be to live in the US as they assume everything to be much cheaper for me.

But. There are things that are more expensive in the US in comparison to Switzerland. Here goes a list of things I’ve come up with:

Going to Uni

If you’re planning to raise kids in the U.S. (that will later want to go to college), you’ll probably need to sell a few heirlooms first to save for their university fees. Think tuition fees in Switzerland are too high? In the U.S., it’s normal for twenty-somethings to leave higher education with a six-figure debt. HSBC published a report in 2016 stating that the average annual cost of tuition fees to study in the US is at an estimated $33,215. Obviously this estimate can have significant variations in either direction. At the very top-tier US universities (such as Harvard, Yale, Brown and other Ivy League schools), fees and living costs are likely to add up to around US$60,000 per year (see also my post on Harvard on that matter here) but it’s also possible to study in the US at a much lower outlay.

Those seeking a more affordable option may find lower tuition fees at US universities within the public sector, still those roughly CHF 700.- per semester really are nothing anymore in comparison to this, right?

Health Costs  

According to the OECD, Americans spend about $9,024 per capita and year whereas the average expense on healthcare of a Swiss person lies around $6,787. Considering that the OECD average is $3620 we (as in we Americans and Swiss) seem to have to spend a whole lot more than the rest of the OECD for healthcare.

Feta cheese

What is it that makes a gourmet item of feta cheese? Philipp reminded me not to only state this but also try and show you by real examples (that’s the researcher in him not standing when I just say things without the proper base). So: A package of Feta (200g) will cost you CHF 3.95 in Switzerland (at Coop at least), while the same amount will cost you $7.39 at a very regular supermarket (nothing fancy). Crazy, right?

Bread

(like real bread, you know me by now): While you can get a beautiful (and organic!) loaf of bread at Coop for as little as CHF 2.85, you’ll have to pay $6 upwards here. Why is that? I really would love someone explaining me because it doesn’t make sense to me.

Muesli

As applies for the feta, muesli (not talking cereal here, those are cheap AF but more the granola crunchy style thingys), they also seem to be a gourmet item. While you can get a 450g package of crunch cereals in Coop for as low as CHF 3.30, you’ll have to pay starting at $5.49 upwards for the same amount of a comparable product here. Craycray! Enjoy your muesli is all I can say, if you’re a Swiss person reading this!

If you’re an expat currently living in the US, what are the things that are more expensive in the US in comparison to your home country? Or vice versa, if you’re an American living abroad, what are the things that strike you as pricier as back home? I’d love to know!

Have a great week!

Thoughts On Living Abroad

Hi everyone, how are you?

Let’s talk about living abroad today. Everyone knows that you will miss your holidays with your family, having your friends around, eating your favorite childhood foods from your favorite grocery stores. But I thought I’d dig a little deeper than that.

What is amazing about living abroad

I am aware that living abroad for two years is an immense privilege so I take it for what it is: A gift. Usually, when you get a gift (unless you seriously lack of education) you say “thank you”, right? So what is there to be thankful for being an expat and living abroad?

  • Besides the obvious (cliché but true) stuff like that it widens your horizon, that it forces you to learn new things and be brave (make new friends, strive to master the nuances in a new language) what strikes me as the most important of all is this:
  • The confidence you gain with yourself when you go to this new place and start all over again from zero on and the knowledge that you can rely on yourself to build a life again. That is quite a reassuring and good feeling, right? It really is a new beginning, full of curiosity and excitement. You have to figure out how basic things work in your new country (from public transportation, applying for a job, how to be good at small talk, shop at grocery stores or how to post letters, the list is endless).
  • A thought I also like is that the mere act of living in another country, in another language, fundamentally changes you. It forces you to rediscover your own personality as you are in a new environment where you have to reposition yourself in (as opposed to your home country where it is pretty clear where you belong, who you are). For example, I feel more comfortable talking to strangers now (not in a bad way, don’t you worry) but in a more being open-minded towards people I don’t know way (it is just considered friendly behavior here and my Swiss shyness seems just dumb). I am already picturing myself back in Zurich talking to people on the streets just because I feel like I want to tell them something and they go like “who dat crazy lady?” (yes, I’ve referenced myself as a a lady, haha).

Being part of an expat* community

Of course we try and meet as many locals as we can. I try doing that by volunteering, where I get in touch with lots of Americans, which I sincerely enjoy. As an expat, however, there seems to be this magnetic power to get together with other expats. And we are no exception. So far, we got to meet lot (LOTS) of expats here. It is definitely a hub for people coming together from all over the planet.

I met lovely and super interesting people from Romania, Finland, Brazil, Spain, Canada, Iran, China, Israel,  Czech Republic, France, Italy, Turkey, Haiti or Germany to name a few. Even though we couldn’t have more different backgrounds and home countries, there is one thing that unites us: The experience of leaving and starting a new life in a new country. And believe me that is enough to create a link.

Having major FOMO becomes a constant

Besides all of the lovely things starting a life in a new country entails, there is still one question always nagging you in the back of your mind that is “What am I missing at home?”. I think that we manage to keep up to date with everything going on at home pretty well, still one of my biggest fears is going home and finding out that I have missed too many things. Because, let’s be honest: Life goes on without us. I guess there is nothing you can do than trying to stay connected.

Visiting home is wonderful and strange at the same time

As much as I love visiting home I find it is strange at the same time. Except for family and friends (which are obviously great) basic stuff like our apartment or jobs aren’t there anymore. We live a life of a guest in our own home country if feels like.

Anyway, I like how this American experience has shaped me so far, I also love that I get to connect with so many different people at volunteering. This is definitely something I would like to keep up when I get back home to Switzerland (after eating mountains of cervelats and bread first).

BTW: We went to a Swiss Soirée** a couple of days ago (yes, that is what you do when you are a Swiss person living abroad) and you know what? IT WAS AMAZING. It’s crazy how food can catapult you home INSTANTLY even though it’s more than 6000 km away (unfortunately, they didn’t have cervelats at the soirée but they had Salsiz and Bündnerfleisch, WIN!).

*Disclaimer: Even though I am not particularly fond of the word “expat” as I don’t see how I am really different from a “regular” immigrant, I’ll still use it.

**I had a fancy alcoholic drink with a little white cross in it (see photo above) and it tasted FABULOUS.