Posts in People

American Daily Life Etiquette

Hi friends, how are you today?

The topic we’re about to talk today might be one of my favorites: Daily etiquette.

Meaning as in how you are expected to behave in public space according to the norms of the country and its culture you’re living in. I’ve had an interesting conversation with my international friends about that last week and found it just so interesting that even a seemingly simple act of greeting someone can be interpreted and done SO differently depending on where you live. One of my favorite examples was that in South Korea male friends go walking around the city holding hands, same goes for friends who go out with their female friends. Isn’t that interesting? Or how kissing (or the lack thereof) as a form of greeting is so different in every country?

This is also one that always greatly confuses me as I go on to kiss people on the cheeks three times here and they look at me even more confused (I ALWAYS forget, it’s a reflex, trained over so many years). Swiss people seem to be into kissing.

Anyways, I’ve compiled some of the things that struck me as most different in daily life etiquette as compared to Switzerland. Let’s go! 

The art of sneezing correctly

It’s been cold in winter (very cold), there’s the allergies going on right now (damn you pollen), in conclusion:

People sneeze a lot around here. 

It happens, like anywhere else actually (maybe I’m making too big a deal out of it)  but I find that people are way more considerate when sneezing than in Switzerland. I tell you how it goes: You’re sitting in the T (the Bostonian subway) and someone next to you sneezes into his elbow (important detail, he/she doesn’t just sneeze into the open air, no no). Anyways, what surprised me the most was that people actually apologize and will say something along the lines of “excuse me”, “sorry”. And I’m like?

Whoa, you don’t have to apologize for sneezing but ok.

Holding doors open

This one I find is really nice. Be it in the T stations, in restaurants, the library or anywhere where there aren’t automatic doors, people WILL HOLD THE DOOR for you. YES. Like really. They will wait and hold it open if they see you behind them. That’s a whole other level of politeness as compared to Switzerland (where I at least) find that people tend to do that less. Also, if you hold the door, people will ALWAYS say thank you. ALWAYS.

Excuse me…

Politeness seems to be the red thread throughout this post, doesn’t it? The conclusion being that Americans really try and be very polite (when they’re in public space at least). During rush hours and when the T and busses are super busy and people need to get off, they will always politely say “Excuse me”.

Keep your distance

When two Americans are standing and talking to each other they stay at least 16 inches (aka 40 cm) away from each other (I’ve read that somewhere. How do they find that out in the first place?!), farther away than is customary in many other cultures it seems. An American may feel threatened if you come too close. They should go to a Southern European country, would they like that?

On Winning My First Award (Joking): The Liebster Award

Hi everyone

The Frenchy Way (check out her lovely French blog and insta) nominated me for the Liebster Award so I thought why not give it a try and tell you something about me in a way that I normally probably wouldn’t (#introvert). Let’s get the “facts” out of the way before getting started, alright?

The rules of the Liebster Award (I’ve translated those from French, so bear with me. Also, I’m not sure if those are the most recent ones. We’ll go with those for now)

  • Tell 11 random facts about you.
  • Answer 11 questions by the person that nominated you.
  • Now ask 11 bloggers (I cheated on this one a little) to answer a set of 11 questions that you’ve created.
  • Eat 11 chocolats (is that really a rule? Not that it would bother me, just asking).

11 random facts about me

  1. I drink more tea now than coffee.
  2. Hello, I am a YouTube addict.
  3. Hello, I am a Netflix addict.
  4. I would love to know how to really crawl. And not just for a few seconds, like really.
  5. I would like to now how to cook more creatively.
  6. I love discovering and exploring new places, museums, restaurants and cafés.
  7. A great scenario for a casual sunny Sunday: Sitting in a café, enjoying a nice cup of coffee, basking in the sun (without a coat on) and watching people walking by.
  8. Indulging in a donut every once in a while and LOVING it.
  9. Somehow I find breakfasts at a hotel exciting and always look forward to them (even though they sometimes aren’t as great as I hoped they would be).
  10. I love improvised evenings with friends, where nothing is planned and we just sit in a kitchen and eat and drink and talk for hours.
  11. It genuinely made me happy going swimming in the lake in the summertime (back in Zurich).

Answering The Frenchy Way’s Questions (I got a bit lazy and didn’t translate everything (I’m sure you’ll understand)

  1. Pourquoi as-tu ouvert un blog ? Because I somehow wanted to document my new life in the States. Also, I think I’ve always wanted to do it.
  2. Quel a été ton tout premier voyage ? My first trip must have been as a baby from Paris to Barcelona I guess, I’d need to ask my parents.
  3. Quel est ton meilleur bon plan voyage ? See as much as possible while also allowing enough time for relaxing and enjoying being in a new place.
  4. Quelle est ta playlist du moment (6 artistes ou pistes) ? Maggie Rogers, Lorde, Bombay Bicycle Club, Two Door Cinema Club, Ed Sheeran.
  5. Une série à voir absolument et pourquoi ? Currently I am loving “Call The Midwife”, it will just make you feel good. On my all times favorites list though are “30 Rock”, “Parks and Recreation” and “The Office”. All will make you laugh. FOR SURE.
  6. Quel est l’objet dont tu ne peux pas te passer ? My sofa and my bed. Both very necessary.
  7. Si tu étais un juron ? People would have a good time because I find it hard judging people and being mean. Does that make sense?
  8. Mer, montagne, ville ou campagne ? Everything.
  9. Quel est ton plat favori ? Everything fresh and tasteful will make my belly happy, doesn’t have to be complicated.
  10. Qu’est-ce qui te fais rire ? A lot of things, animal or human babies doing cute things, clever people making fun jokes.
  11. Que fais tu pour te ressourcer ? Take a bath, do a face mask. Drink a glass of wine. Relax.

And the nominees and my 11 questions are…

  1. What is your favorite thing to do on a Sunday morning?
  2. What is a talent you have?
  3. Your favorite piece of clothing (or accessories) and why?
  4. Your favorite item (could be furniture, a mug etc.) in your living space and why?
  5. What are you scared of?
  6. What makes you laugh?
  7. How do you treat yourself?
  8. What is the favorite part of your day (like in a “ordinary” day)?
  9. What makes you genuinely happy?
  10. My favorite candy/sweet is…
  11. Your first word as a baby was…

You all rock girls, have a lovely day!

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.

The Expat Tag Follow-up

Hi guys!

Remember, how a few weeks back I had created an expat tag? Well, lots of lovely people did it and I thought it would be nice to feature their blogs and share some of my favorite answers with you. Also, lots of other people reacted so thanks to them too for sharing their stories even though they aren’t featured here (shout out to Christine!).

Check out Sarah’s blog Endless Distances here to read more about her experience as an American yoga teacher living in Plymouth (also, beautiful photos alert).

“Are there any cultural norms/phrases in your new country which you cannot stand? I cannot bear the Plymouth accent. I really cannot. Growing up in the USA we all fell in love with the poshest of British accents (think Colin Firth) and were led to believe all Brits sound the same… this is NOT the case and my ears are now attuned enough that I can spot a Plymouthian accent from a mile away.”

HAHA.

Between England and IowaFollow a British Girl’s life in the Midwest of the States over here.

“What’s the one thing you said “yes” to in your new city that you wouldn’t say “yes” to, back home? Driving 3 hours to go to an airport.  In the UK, that’d be like me driving to Manchester to get on a flight.  Why would I do that when I have Stansted, Southend, Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, London City, all less than 90 minutes away and all flying internationally?!  Now, my nearest major international airport is Chicago O’hare (that’s the nearest airport that flies direct to the UK) and it’s 3 hours away.  Those 3 hours of driving are a killer before and after a long haul flight.”

The Frenchy WayFind out what the frenchy way of living in Santa Cruz is and check out this French girl’s blog here. It’s very interesting, lots of pretty photos too!

I had a hard time choosing an answer I liked most, there were too many, seriously (it might also been the beautiful French language or the Grizou GIF, not sure). 

“Quel type de réactions obtenez-vous lorsque vous rencontrez de nouvelles personnes et leur dites d’où vous venez? Les réactions sont toutes très sympathiques. J’ai été très étonnée au début. Je pensais que les français avaient mauvaise réputation outre-atlantique. En fait, c’est le contraire, on a plutôt la côte !”

This one was funny, too:

“Quel est votre plat préféré, nourriture ou boisson dans votre nouveau pays?
Les ARTICHAUTS ! Vous entendez le cri du cœur là ? En soupe, en crème, en salade, frits… Californie = artichoke. D’ailleurs la capitale de l’artichaut se trouve à Castroville, à 40 minutes de chez nous. Les artichauts californiens, tu peux pas test !”

An Aussie in San FranciscoCheck out this Australian’s adventures in beautiful San Francisco over here.

“What type of reactions do you get when you meet new people and tell them where you are from? Americans tend to love Australians. I’m not sure why. I get a lot of “crikey”s and questions about deadly animals. Sometimes they just ask me which part of Australia I’m from and let me continue on my merry way. Other times I get a rendition of their best Aussie accents. To this day I get a visit from a colleague once a week to regale me with his awful accent. It’s British. The more I tell him that it’s British, the more he assaults me with it.”

My Theory on BloomingCheck out Claire’s thoughtful blog on her adventures as an American mom in South Africa here.

“Your favorite food or drink item in your new country? Granadilla – It’s a passionfruit which tastes both sour and sweet, and full of flavor.  It’s good with yogurt, mixed in a drink, or made into a sweet dessert.  My daughters even eat them right out of the skin.  I’ve got a vine growing in our back garden.  So, when they are in season…I don’t even have to pay for them!”

Expat The WorldA sweet Spanish girl moves to Germany and tells you what it really is like, check it out here.

“What type of reactions do you get when you meet new people and tell them where you are from? Usually people tend to tell me something in spanish; “hola”, “sangría” or “paella” are the most common words people say. Another usual thing is to ask me about the weather; “do you miss the sun?”. They get really surprised when I explain them that the sun does not always shine in Spain.”

American Events: Black History Month

Hello everyone

With the month of February coming to an end, I wanted to talk a little about Black History Month as it is something that I assume most of my European readers aren’t familiar with.

In short: Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month.

One of the many heroes that are being remembered is a woman called Harriet Tubman. Have you ever heard about her?

The New York Times has dedicated an interactive and beautifully done article to her and her story, please read it here if you have a moment. I’ll just give you a very brief intro into this woman’s admirable life story and how she’s impacted the life of so many others.

Who was Harriet Tubman and what did she do?

Harriet Tubman became famous as a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad during the 1850s. Born a slave, she had a very hard life and was beaten brutally by her owners. One time she was hit on the head so hard she fell unconscious. She has suffered from serious health problems ever since. In 1849 she fled slavery. Despite a bounty on her head, she returned to the South at least 19 times to lead her family and about hundreds other slaves northbound via the Underground Railroad to the states where they would finally be free.

Upon reading this first I was confused, an Underground Railroad? What was that, how did it work? It was kind of a network of helpers, whose activities had to be kept secret. Also, the people involved in the network that were helping to free slaves used railway terms to describe how the system worked. Various routes were lines, stopping places were called stations, those who aided along the way were conductors. The network of routes extended through various Northern states and “the promised land” aka Canada.

Source: Wikipedia.org, Harriet Tubman on the left

Why Harriet Tubman was a total badass woman

From what is known about Harriet Tubman is that she must have been an incredibly courageous woman. Even though there was a high reward for her capture as she had fled her owners, she came back to the South so many times to help others.

It is reported that she also always carried a revolver and wasn’t afraid to use it. In case a slave tried to go back home because he got scared she would threaten to shoot him (seems a bit brutal but somehow comprehensible) since that would threaten the safety of the remaining group.

Conclusion

It makes me sad to read about the history of slavery that has been such a dark part of this country I am currently living in. Also, it’s not been that long ago, if you think about it. I understand it is important to remember great moments, achievements and the people like Harriet Tubman that were driving forces behind them yet it is vital to look forward and aim to improve the lives of all people.

Sadly, the African-American community is still facing major struggles, a few of them mentioned below:

  • Poverty: Large gaps persist between African-American and the white population in terms of wealth and income.
  • HIV/Aids: Something I’ve learned during volunteering at an HIV center was that African Americans are the racial/ethnic group most affected by HIV in the United States. In 2015, they’ve accounted for 45% of HIV diagnoses, though they make only for 12% of the US population.
  • Education: A growing share of African-Americans are completing high school and college, yet they lag behind whites in college completion (read more here).
  • Unemployment: African-Americans were more than twice as likely to be unemployed (10%) as their White counterparts (5%).
  • Criminality: African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population.

I don’t mean to be negative, there are many many great developments happening too (the Boston Globe put an interesting article together covering positive statistics about young black men, check it out here).

Another positive thing was the Oscars award for Best Picture going to ‘Moonlight’ (when it finally did go to ‘Moonlight’ if you know what I mean). Also great moment: The awards for Mahershala Ali, Viola Davis and the cast of ‘Hidden Figures’ being on stage with the REAL NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson (she was the most graceful of all wasn’t she? Also, the Oscars people really know their stuff and how to make you tear up with dramatic music).

Go watch this movie, it’s touching, painful, raw and yet SO beautiful! Have you seen it?

Have a fantastic day!

The Expat Tag

Hello everyone!

I am usually not one for tags but as I’ve started discovering other people’s blogs in the last few weeks and have really been enjoying getting in touch with other bloggers (not only expat bloggers), I thought I might as well give it a go. I’ve thrown together a few questions inspired by an expat tag that I saw flying around and edited them to my liking.

I would LOVE if all of you would join me. Feel free to leave out questions you don’t feel like answering or tag other people to do it, so we can share experiences as expats. What do you think, shall we get started?

  1. Where were you born, where did you grow up and where do you currently live?*

    I was born in Paris, grew up in Zurich and am now living in Boston.

  2. What made you leave your home country?

    Love made me do it!

  3. What type of reactions do you get when you meet new people and tell them where you are from?

    I’ve only had nice reactions so far, nothing to complain about. Also, my fellow Swiss friend Roger Federer does a very good job at representing us abroad. I’ve written a blog post covering all the reactions I’ve experienced so far (you’ll find it here in case you’re curious).

  4. What was the easiest/hardest part in adjusting to your new country?

    As Philipp had come here a few months before me, he had already found an apartment (which was quite the adventure itself), set up things like internet, a bank account and had gotten to know the area a little. That made it quite easy for me to get settled in. The hardest part has been easing myself into a new daily routine as I am currently not working. A post on that will follow soon. Also, missing my friends and family was (is) hard. This means a lot of skype sessions. Look at them, aren’t they the BEST? Yes they are.

  5. Images, words or sounds that sum up your expat experience so far.

    A lot of the above because of the below:
    Our favorite Saturday morning routine, visiting the winter farmer’s market in Somerville.

    Those guys! How can something so small and grey be so freakin’ cute? And they’re EVERYWHERE.

    Lastly it has also been a lot of laptop time, writing up posts for the blog, learning Dutch and watching too much Netflix and YouTube, oops.

  6. What’s your favorite food or drink item in your new country?

    This should come as no surprise.

  7. What’s the one thing you said “yes” to in your new city that you wouldn’t say “yes” to, back home?

    Doing volunteering was something I could definitely say “yes” to in my new home country. It was something that I never could do back home. Also, I’ve been saying “yes” more to working out more consistently (compared to NEVER, success!) and learning Dutch as a new language as well as refreshing my Italian.

  8. Are there any cultural norms/phrases in your new country which you cannot stand?

    That’s a difficult one. People use the word “like” soooo much. I don’t mean the use of like as a way to express something you like but rather the use of “like” in just any sentence, e.g. ‘I was…just like…thinking no way can this be true. And then I was like, I don’t believe it’. Get what I mean? It’s just a little detail still it is something I find a bit annoying.

  9. What do you enjoy most doing in your new country?

    Exploring a new life and having the privilege to shaping everyday like I want to. I am aware that the moment will come where I’ll have to work again (only if this work permit will ever be accepted in this lifetime of course) so I am making the most of my time. I also enjoy doing a lot of volunteering, getting to know new people and obviously indulging in a certain type of pastry (see question 6).

  10. Do you think you will ever move home for good?

    I do think that I will go back home to Switzerland eventually. Let’s see what life brings!

Have a great day, wherever you are in this world! 

If you feel like doing the tag, copy the questions and get started yourself! You’ll find them below:

  1. Where were you born, where did you grow up and where do you currently live?
  2. What made you leave your home country?
  3. What type of reactions do you get when you meet new people and tell them where you are from?
  4. What was the easiest/hardest part in adjusting to your new country?
  5. Images, words or sounds that sum up the expat experience you’ve had so far.
  6. Your favorite food or drink item in your new country?
  7. What’s the one thing you said “yes” to in your new city that you wouldn’t say “yes” to, back home?
  8. Are there any cultural norms/phrases in your new country which you cannot stand?
  9. What do you enjoy most doing in your new country?
  10. Do you think you will ever move home for good?

 

* I know, I know. This is a three in one question. But, I feel like this should only be a quick one.

5 Things That Are Normal In Switzerland vs. Not Normal In The US

#1 Drinking alcohol in public and happy hours (!)

While public drinking in Switzerland is legal it is definitely NOT OK to drink alcohol in public in the US. Switzerland has a legal purchase age of 16 for beer and wine and 18 for spirits. In the US the official drinking age is 21 years. In the state of Massachusetts there is even a happy hour ban: It went into effect in 1984.

The hours after work stopped being “happy’’ and became just “regular’’ after that as it prohibits bars and restaurants in Massachusetts from offering discounts on alcoholic beverages. Using words such as “free,’’ “discount,’’ “unlimited,’’ or “jumbo” in combination with drinks is strictly forbidden. Also, prices for drinks must remain the same throughout the calendar week, meaning all the time.

Dear Swiss/European reader, enjoy your next happy hour drinks and cheers to me, thanks. (Of course you don’t HAVE to but it’d be nice).

 #2 Respecting soccer

Football, football, football. Blah blah blah.

Especially with the New England Patriots recently having won the Super Bowl (and everyone going CRAYCRAY about it over here), everything sports-related always has something to do with football. They technically kind of know that there is something in Europe called soccer and girls/women actually are really good at it in the States, still soccer looses over football (they don’t know what they’re missing out on). It’s just not that relevant here.

We GET it, you’re happy. Let’s move on.

#3 Respecting public transportation

I am a bus and trains person. Of course not when it’s rush hour and everyone is passively aggressive and weird but when I have time and can listen to a podcast or music, I enjoy it. At least in Switzerland I did, where the public transportation system is really brilliant (don’t complain you spoilt Zurich people, it really is). I can tell as I have a way of comparing it to the American one now that I’m living here.

And let me tell you, the subway stations and trains look like they haven’t been touched since the 70s (the design and the colors give it away, all nice orangey and funky, unfortunately not in a cool way – in a falling apart/not nice way) and only students, people without a car (and me) take the bus.

If there is one that ever shows up. I have been standing at bus stops multiple of times waiting for more than 20 minutes for a bus to come (in the middle of the city and on a route that is very common, just saying I wasn’t in the countryside expecting a bus to pass every 3 minutes).

#4 Not always tipping

As mentioned in an earlier post, you HAVE to tip your waiter here, while a Swiss waiter won’t hate you (as much) if you don’t.

#5 Smoking in public

While you can smoke in public in Switzerland, I find that Americans smoke way way less. I rarely see people smoking when walking around. Actually never. I learned that it is even considered a little rude to walk in crowds with a lit cigarette.

Ha, there goes your daily dose of not so useful information. Still appreciate it a LOT that you’re here.

With me.

I appreciate you. Just wanted to let you know.

Now go and have the best Thursday ever, byeeeeee!

Reactions I Get When I Say I’m Swiss

The reactions you get when you say you’re Swiss are… interesting.

Over the course of the last three months I’ve accumulated quite a lot of small talk time (SO MUCH), especially at volunteering where I meet a lot of people. Once I reveal my Swiss nationality during a conversation, I get quite interesting reactions so I thought I’d share them with you today.

The sports-related reaction

  • ‘Ah, Roger Federer. I like him (thinking pause), he’s a decent guy. And the other guy, what’s his name (long thinking pause)…Stan, right. I like him, too. But I like Roger more’ (generally speaking, Roger does a pretty good job at representing us I have to say because he has been mentioned A LOT) 
  • ‘You must be a great skier then?’

The generally excited (very excited) reaction

  • ‘Wow, that’s SO awesome!!! Really cool’ (to be read VERY VERY excitedly. Also, this is the standard reaction I would say. Everyone thinks this is really really really AWESOME for some reason. Then, sometimes, not always, a second reaction follows)
  • Amazing!’ (I get that one quite often too, also to be read in a very excited tone of voice, I mean you can’t say that in a non-excited way, right?)

The personal reaction

  • ‘I was an aupair in Geneva for a French-Dutch family twenty-five years ago. I used to get so homesick that I would go to the local McDonalds, order a burger and fries and cry a little on my own. It somehow made me feel less homesick’ (that’s what I love about Americans, you know them for literally three minutes and they tell you stuff like this. The woman who told me this story was really sweet btw)
  • ‘I’ve lived in Wetzikon for three months and did an internship over the summer. I loved getting on a boat in Rapperswil’ (say whattt???!!! That’s what I thought. The world really is a small place)
  • ‘You’ve been born with chocolate that is exciting’ (that was the friendly, a little crazy hippy lady I met on that blizzard day in Whole Foods. She was really excited about chocolate in general. Read more about it here, if you haven’t already)
Wetzikon Downtown

The I-know-stuff-about-it-and-want-to-show-it-to-this-European-reaction / The I-have-been-there-reaction

  • ‘Which part are you from?’ (this is one I rarely get but if I do I’ll always reply with ‘well that is quite an expert question’ because it’s really rare that people know we have different language regions and you want to be extra nice because they seem proud to know that) 
  • (Often a follow-up to the question above) ‘So you must speak a ton of languages?’ (they really get impressed when you say that you learn German, English, French and Italian at school. Like they DO NOT believe you)
  • ‘My father used to be in the military and was positioned in Bavaria. We visited Switzerland a few times, I loved Bern, so cute’ (suprisingly I’ve met a lot of kids of military families that had been moving around Europe and Japan a lot, which I found really interesting)

The I-don’t-care-that-much-but-I-want-to-keep-the-small-talk-alive-reaction (because small talk is important, you know the drill by now)

  • ‘Is it snowy there?’
  • ‘What brings you to Boston?’
  • ‘Do you like it here?’
  • ‘There are lots of mountains there, right?’
  • ‘I’m visiting Europe this summer for about a week and will be passing through Switzerland, what should I see?’

In conclusion: From what I’ve heard so far, Switzerland doesn’t have to worry too much about its image. As long as we have Roger Federer everything will be fine.  

If you’d like to read something a little more well-founded about the image of Switzerland abroad, have a look at the Nation Brands Index 2015 here.

Little Ways To Say I Love You (Plus Lots of GIFs and Memes. LOTS)

Happy Galentine’s! And it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow! Whether you’re celebrating or not because you think it’s dumb (see below),

I thought it would be nice to write down a few little ideas (very little and easy) how to say ‘I love you’. Isn’t that what V Day actually should be about? It shouldn’t be about all the chocolate and gifts (even though they’re nice, let’s be real). More than that, V Day is sort of a reminder for me to keep the habit (if you can call it that) of being thankful for the people in your live up throughout all the year and not only on one day.

Disclaimer: This post was primarily created so that I can use all the cute GIFs and memes that I’ve been looking at for the last half hour. Feel free to copy them to send them to your friends and/or lover(s).

#1 SAY IT

Sounds so basic I feel stupid writing that down, nonetheless it’s good to remind yourself to say the famous three words to the person you want to say them to face to face. While looking them in the eye. Not lying on the sofa, half-asleep, saying it when your SO rushes out the door (even though that is cute, too, of course). I’m saying choose a moment when you’re both fully awake, be mindful, take it seriously and SAY IT.

#2 UNLEASH YOUR INNER DJ

That might be my favourite one. Even though the days of “mix tapes” are over, you can use Spotify or iTunes or burn a CD (sounds odd) to put together songs that mean something to you and your friend/family member/lover. No better way to express your love than through music.

#3 WRITE IT DOWN (LETTER, NOTES, YOU CHOOSE)

If you prefer putting a bit more thought into what you want to tell your friend/family member/lover write it down. It could be a long heart-felt letter or a few funny lines on a note (because I’m sure you’re funny), hidden in a briefcase, jacket or trousers pocket or just a few sticky notes that you put on the bathroom mirror in the morning or on the fridge. When they’re not looking of course. So that it’s a surprise. If you’re not sure about what to write it’s always a good kickstarter to remember your first encounter, what you appreciate about the other person, reliving funny memories etc. etc. I’m sure you’ll find something. If not, this might not be a person to write a note for. Just sayin’.

#4 GIFS TO THE RESCUE

If all fails, send your Valentines/Galentines a GIF alongside with a voice message telling them how great they are. Here comes a little selection for you, hopefully covering different target groups (meaning your Valentines).

There should be something for everyone whether he/she is a coffee or cartoon lover (we’ve got a good selection going on, ranging from Sailor Moon to Care Bears. Pätti, didn’t you love those? I’ll send you one even though it’s not a surprise anymore), an illustrations or neon lights lover, a Ryan Gosling fan, a dancer, an ironic person, a nostalgic (look at this cute photo of the movie ‘My Girl’, did you watch that one too when you were younger?). Send me your best GIFs. I know, Anna you are big on GIFs, send me one! Please and thank you.

5 Things That Are Normal In The US Vs. Not Normal In Switzerland

 #1 Making a turn right on a red light

I don’t know but something inside me (my Swiss inner voice or my Swiss survival instinct maybe?) tells me it’s NOT OK to pass a light when red.

But. People behind you will get upset if you let your Swiss inner voice take over, so you just make a turn. Interesting, how such a small detail in dailylife can be different in two countries.

#2 Wearing sweatpants everywhere. All. The. Time. Sometimes in combination with flip flops. Even when it’s rainy and dark outside.

It’s an oldie but goodie. It’s something I love about people here. They really don’t give a f***. They will wear the most comfortable looking sweatpants while you pass them wearing a pair of skinny jeans you just want to get rid of the second you get home. No wonder they seem all so relaxed in their cosy pants. But imagine, I would have never gone out shopping wearing my sweatpants in Switzerland. Do you? (Swiss readers). I had to giggle when looking at this GIF. That’s how I would answer if I had to justify why I was wearing sweatpants 5 days in a row (if I would):

#3 Mowing your lawn and washing your clothes on a Sunday

While this is a no-go in Switzerland (for whatever strange reason) it is totally cool here. You can actually do anything you want at any hour of the day. As simple as that. They…

#4 Smiling at and small talking with total strangers. At anytime of the day. Everywhere.

Be it standing in line at the post office, at the supermarket, in the tube.

Anywhere is good enough really for strangers to smile at you and start talking.

This is definitely something that almost never happened to me back home in Switzerland while it happens here almost on a daily basis. In Switzerland it is considered weird if someone starts talking to you out of the blue (btw about anything really, nothing in specific). I would be behaving like April in such an interaction (character out of Parks and Recreation):  

However, after three months living here, I don’t really mind anymore. It doesn’t freak me out (that’s maybe a strong word but you get what I mean) or anything, I’ve gotten used to it and to ‘talking’ more in public situations (that sounds even weirder but you get it, right?). Who knows. If I get back to Switzerland in May I might find that everyone not talking to each other is weird.

Weird how your perspective on certain behaviors can change when you live in a different place for a while.

I’ve used the word weird too many times I realize. This has to stop.

On a sidenote: Another word I’ve have realized I used way, WAY too much is amazing. It has to stop. I think the American influence has already taken its toll on my English language capacities (which already aren’t the best to begin with).  

#5 Couponing like crazy

I think the American consumer as the very experienced consumer he/she is (I know generalizing is bad and stuff) is all about hunting down the best deals for anything really. I even might have read somewhere that compared with European consumers, Americans are amongst the most frugal shoppers. The amount of times I’ve seen people in the supermarket hand the cashier a pile of coupons. It’s been a lot of times.

You can even find TONS of How-To-Coupon-Books online and in bookshops to find the best ways to save. It’s really a part of their shopping culture. Would you say, Swiss shoppers are equally as eager to save money and use that kind of coupons? I don’t know, I don’t think so?

Ovaries before Brovaries

Are you celebrating Galentine’s this Year? Gal-what? You look at me slightly confused (I imagine).

I have Leslie Knope here (the creator of this great holiday and main character of one of my all-time favorite TV shows ‘Parks and Recreation’) explain to you HOW GREAT it is first:

Now that we’ve established how great it is, let me quickly lay out the facts (real ones) for you:

The 13th of February, one day before Valentine’s Day is unofficially known as Galentine’s Day.

It is a day where women appreciate their girl friends.

Leslie prefers to observe the holiday of lady love with brunch (she loves waffles in case you didn’t know) but you can do whatever floats your boat.

It’s way better than Valentine’s day, here’s a few reasons why I would encourage you to celebrate it this year:

#1 Friendships are the most IMPORTANT thing in life. Romantic partners often come and go, but best friends outstay all of them.

#2 It’s important to thank your friends for supporting you through everything.

No matter what you do, make sure you treat your friends to the most amazing day EVER. And remember: