So very sad. I’m surprised at how nostalgic I’m feeling when writing down those words. Leaving this special place after having lived here for one year seems so difficult all of a sudden. It’s just SUCH a nice place to live in, especially in summer. I have to say, Boston and Cambridge are total beauties in the summer time (makes you almost forget how TERRIBLE winter is here). Maybe that’s a trick this city plays on you. Half of the year it’s the most beautiful place ever and you’re like, ‘cool place’, other half of the year….NOT SO MUCH.
Anyways. Why do I like it here so much you ask?
Cambridge has the feeling and vibe of a small town to it (a little more than 100’000 inhabitants, remember? Not that much after all), the houses are BEAUTIFUL, there’s tree-lined little cute streets everywhere. Still there are tons of things to do everyday (events, concerts, theatre plays, the list goes on), there are plenty of cool (is it still ok to use ‘cool’?) bars, cafés, amazing restaurants and little local shops all around the corner.
The mix of people is diverse and fascinating, there are obviously lots of proud Harvard students around, wearing all of the branded gear and clothes making it clear to everyone on the streets passing them WHO is going to Harvard. They are. You are NOT. Unless you’re a cute tourist buying all the Harvard shirts and sweaters from the Harvard store to pass as a student. I’m sorry to break it to you. People will notice YOU’RE NOT AN ORIGINAL. Still, I will buy a Harvard sweater as an emotional souvenir. And still, it’s nice to have so many young people around. There are also lots of families and people that have been living here for a long time. Aw, I’m going to miss you Cambridge, you beautiful town.
I sound very dramatic I realize now that I’ve read through that last paragraph. Because…let’s all not forget that we’re moving to the city…that is 10 minutes away by subway.
Anyways, I’m in a dramatic mood today.
Still, I’m going to miss the first place I ever called a home in the United States, I’ll never forget. And this eclectic and international mix of people. Ok, going to leave you now. It’s getting worse and worse.
Long time no see. How are you? How has your summer been so far?
I’ve had a great time. Isn’t summer just simply the best time of year? Anyways, we’re back in the US and settling in again.
And then there was August 1st.
A day that I normally don’t care much about. Surprisingly this time around I thought about it a lot. And as it seems, if you’re a Swiss living abroad you think about August 1st more than you would if you were back home (at least I think so).
So what do you do? You attend all sorts of August 1st related events. Yes. AND they all mainly revolve around food as they usually do (which is totally fine with me) so we went to an August 1st brunch at the Swiss bakery here in town (see my post about finding that bakery here).
And it was glorious. Birchermüesli, Weggli, Croissants, Wähen, Röschti, cheeses…the list goes on.
We were talking with some fellow Swiss friends at the brunch about what the holiday meant to them and they said that August 1st was mainly a holiday they spent with family and that they associated it with time spent outside (as the weather is usually really good round this time of year). What does it mean to you? I’d love to know! I felt still connected to Switzerland even though I wasn’t there.
Have a great week and see you back tomorrow with another say Swiss themed post!
time for a flashback to a weekend in April that we spent in lovely Burlington, Vermont. Anyone ever thought of visiting this state up north? If you haven’t yet, do it, it’s a beautiful beautiful place! Hope you’ll enjoy the photos and little tips for a weekend’s visit.
A few facts about Vermont: The state in the northeastern part of the country is the second least populous. Vermont is the leading producer of maple syrup and is generally known for their farming products such as cheese and milk. It was also ranked as the safest state in the country in 2016. And it has been/still is Bernie Sanders territory. A good place, isn’t it?
There are so many places to visit in Vermont be it summer or winter time. Whether you’re into hiking or skiing there is something for everyone. It’s truly a nice change to the city life seeing all those picturesque small villages, farmland and mountain. One of our personal highlights was biking along Lake Champlain, it’s the best thing you can do on a sunny day I think. There are bike rentals everywhere, we were lucky enough that our hotel gave bikes away for free rental.
The food and drinks
After all that biking we were STARVING. But fear not, Burlington has got you covered. There are a multitude of restaurants and craft breweries awaiting you. We opted for American Flatbread, which was recommended to us as a local’s favorite and it was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G, hands down one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Probably being super hungry/hangry might have influenced me in that judgement. As for beers just try what they will suggest to you, they actually have a brewery (Zero Gravity) that’s part of the American Flatbread restaurant and it was really really good as well. Overall a place I’d highly recommend you go.
For coffee and breakfast breaks I’d suggest you go visit Monarch and the Milkweed. It’s a beautiful little café (right next to American Flatbread actually) where they have a small but nice menu on offer with a beautiful pastries collection as well.
And no culinary Vermont experience would be complete without having tried Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. They have a big shop on the main street of the city and it’s just dreamy. Really tasty ice cream. If you’re a hardcore ice cream aficionado you can take a guided tour in their factory close by (more info here).
We stayed at the Hotel Vermont, which is located right next to the lakeside and the city centre. It was a truly nice experience sleeping there for a night, as they try and work with local brands when it comes to decorating their rooms (can you spot that cute flannel sheet?) and products by local producers. The brunch at their Juniper Café, which is open to the public as well, is an absolute gem. Had great pancakes and egg benedicts there. And tried an Earl Grey Latte for the first time, was delicious!
Have you ever visited Vermont? Have a great Tuesday!
how are you? I guess you must be doing well, as it is F-R-I-D-A-Y! Yay! Happy weekend!
Join me today for the second and final part of the interview I did with the phenomenal trio Ly (Vietnam), Fernanda (Brazil) and Mattias (Sweden). We’re going to talk about adjusting to a life in a new country and looking back on their experience in the US. As applied for part 1 if you’d rather like us hear speaking, click on the corresponding audio files below.
Sandra: What was the easiest or the hardest part in adjusting to your new life here in the US?
Fernanda: I’m going to say that the best part of living here is that it is very convenient. Especially living in Cambridge. It has a bit of a small town, suburban feeling to it, still you have Boston close by. You don’t need a car. Also, I really like being able to head down to CVS at 2am in the morning for ice cream. In Rio, shops close very early. On the other hand, things here are very expensive compared to Rio.
Sandra: What do you find to be most expensive, the food, the cost of living?
Fernanda: I wanna say health insurance. It’s painful how much it costs…
Sandra: Yeah, that’s true, I think that both Switzerland and the US are two of the countries within the OECD that pay most for health insurance.
Fernanda: The hardest part was maybe speaking to people. I wasn’t too confident in my English when I first arrived. I’m very shy and have some trouble speaking to people anyway, so talking in another language I don’t feel so comfortable in, was even more challenging for me.
Sandra: What do you miss the most?
Fernanda: Besides my family and friends it has to be the food. I miss being able to go to a café and have something savoury and not always sweet stuff with my coffee for example. I have to do it myself that’s frustrating (laughs). Also, people in Rio are very warm and open and you can basically start a conversation with everyone if you’d like to. It’s not that I particularly like that but now that I’m gone I miss it. Same goes for music. I never used to be into Samba music but for some reason, now that I live abroad, I love it! I listen to it every day to wake up.
Sandra: Does Mattias also listen to Swedish music to wake up?
Mattias: No, not really. Every now and then I will listen to a Swedish jazz orchestra. I don’t do lots of Swedish things I guess. I came here for the American music of course (everyone laughs).
Sandra: Of course. What was the easiest or hardest part for you in settling in here in the US?
Mattias: It was mostly easy to adjust ourselves to the new life here. Having moved a lot and having lived in a lot of countries has influenced us in the sense that there’s only a few basic things we need to buy to make us feel at home.
Sandra: What are those?
Mattias: Something like a good kitchen knife for example, kitchen stuff basically. Back in China and a few other countries it used to be a window scraper. Those are multi tools for getting water away from showers in the bathroom, the kitchen and stuff.
Sandra: Do you have one now?
Mattias: No. In general it’s cooking in a place and then everything will feel at home. That’s how it has been the last couple of times we moved anyway. And in Cambridge everything feels very nice. I really like that it feels like a small place that is connected to a bigger place like Boston. I’d even say that out of all the places I’ve lived I feel most at home here.
Sandra: Why is that? Besides the home cooking.
Mattias: Cambridge kind of feels like the village I am from in the north of Sweden, just bigger. It’s more spread out. The lushness of the trees, the smell of the bushes, how it looks. It kind of reminds me of my hometown that makes me feel a bit nostalgic.
Sandra: What about you, Ly?
Ly: I love to explore new cultures and Boston happens to be such a melting pot of different cultures. So I’ll have Korean food on Monday, Vietnamese on Tuesday, American Food on Wednesday, maybe Swedish next…
Mattias: Swedish fish maybe! (everyone laughs)
Sandra: That’s as Swedish as it can get here (red. Swedish fish is a gummy candy in fish shape, probably not Swedish at all).
Ly: We’ll also have cheese fondue often, even in summer time. We prepare it in our rice cooker.
Sandra: So you like the variety of cultures coming together in one place?
Ly: Yes, that’s right. What I also really like is the wide offer of events and activities in the city. I have pottery and salsa classes, everything is quite close and it’s just so exciting.
Sandra: So you really like the that you find a lot of things to do here.
Ly: What I miss is the Vietnamese language. Maybe because I don’t really hang out with other Vietnamese people. I still text my friends. I also try to listen to more Vietnamese songs. Before coming here, I didn’t like Vietnamese songs too much, they seemed too cheesy and romantic to me. But now I love to listen to them as they make me feel good.
Looking back on the US experience
Sandra: Picture yourself as an old person. If someone were to ask you about your experience in the US, what would you tell them, what would your main take aways be? Let’s start with you Mattias, what would you say as old wise men?
Mattias: How inspiring this is as a place. And how many great people are here and how open they are. They are passionate about what they’re doing and will share that with you. I’ve been also been going to seminars here and people are always so nice. I’d say this is the main take away that is different from other places.
Sandra: What about you, Fernanda?
Fernanda: I think that the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that everybody everywhere in the world is very similar. You don’t have to be afraid to interact with others and start a conversation. It’s fascinating to me how people from different cultures can communicate and talk to each other. They’re just people. And I used to be afraid of that. I have friends from all over the world now and that is something Boston gave to me.
Mattias: That’s the nicest thing I’ve heard so far.
Sandra: That’s so nice. The pressure is on now for you Ly.
Ly: Boston really is kind of a global village. There are people from all over the world here. The diversity is great and it’s just such an exciting and innovative place to be. I also appreciate how open people are and how they will be open to new opportunities as well. They want to make things happen. That’s so different from Vietnam or even the UK. That’s one of the things I like the most, besides living with my husband of course.
I’m keeping the interview mode on until the end of the week and am really happy to share part 1 of an interview I did with three great humans about their own experiences of arriving and living in the United States with you today. Meet Fernanda (Brazil), Mattias (Sweden) and Ly (Vietnam).
Also, if you’re a lazy bum and prefer to listen to the interview instead of reading it (I totally understand, no judgement here), just click on the corresponding audio files below (bonus material included,please excuse the wind in the audio).
Sandra: Do you remember the day you first arrived to Boston?
Ly: My husband picked me up at the airport and I was just so happy to see him. On our drive back home, I was just amazed by how big it all seemed, especially the buildings and how pretty the light was during that time of day. It was in the evening during the golden hour and the sky had that beautiful purple color, it was so romantic. The next day was a different story though. Without the romantic lighting the buildings just looked like concrete.
Sandra: That’s a nice first impression, what about you, Mattias, as seen from a Swedish perspective?
Mattias: I actually had the opposite experience. It started out really bad and turned out to be a really nice experience.
Sandra: How come?
Mattias: When we decided that we were going to come to Harvard, I had actually no idea where Boston was. I didn’t know it was that far up north. And I read that it rains and snows a lot, which I didn’t know. But I thought, ok, it’s going to be fine. The day we arrived, however, it was raining like crazy.
Sandra: What time of the year was it?
Mattias: The 28th of December.
Sandra: Wow, that’s a hardcore time to arrive here.
Mattias: Everything went well, we came to the apartment that we rented and then we needed to go to the supermarket. So we figured out that the closest shop was something called like Trader Joes. So we started walking there, and there were no sidewalks. Even though now we know that there are sidewalks everywhere, just on that particular patch there was no sidewalk. Then there was this sleet coming down, this mix of rain and snow, it was really cold and we came into Trader Joes and everything was super expensive. We were used to Chinese prices (red. before coming to the US, Mattias and his wife were based in China). But if we’ll go back to Sweden we might think s***, everything is so expensive. So on our first evening here, we didn’t really want to buy anything to eat because it was expensive, we came home totally drenched and cold…
Sandra: Did things get a little better the following day?
Mattias: Yes, the next day everything was a lot better. Blue skies, pretty nice.
Sandra: What about you, Fernanda?
Fernanda: When we got here, about two years ago, it was summer. It was my first time in America during the summer. And I seriously didn’t know it could get this hot. I had this idea in my head of Boston being so far up north that it couldn’t possibly be as hot as in Brazil. So I was a little disappointed in a way.
Sandra: Would you have preferred a crazy winter scenario like Mattias had when arriving here?
Fernanda: Yes, I was a bit disappointed but now I enjoy it especially after having spent two winters here. I’ve really learned to appreciate the seasons, which is pretty cool because we don’t really have changing seasons in Brazil, at least in Rio it’s always very hot. It’s been a while since I first got here and so I don’t really remember every detail anymore. I think we were very excited to be here. We had just gotten married, were living in our first home together and were doing everything together as a married couple for the first time. So it was a really special. And I think I associate this newlywed feeling with Boston. It was a good first impression.
Sandra: And if you think back, when meeting new people, what were people’s reactions when you told them that you were from Brazil?
Fernanda: I remember some people finding it strange that I was so pale. Because they have this idea about Brazilian people, especially from Rio, that they are tanned and enjoy the sun. Speaking of Americans, I can hardly say that I’ve met one. Like everyone that I know isn’t from here. I guess the most American friends that I have are Canadians (everyone laughs).
Sandra: Well I don’t know if they’d like you to say that about them…
Fernanda: It’s just very hard to meet locals.
Sandra: What about you Mattias and Ly? Would they know that it is Sweden and not Switzerland for example?
Mattias: Yeah, exactly that’s what I was going to say.
Sandra: No actually, you always win. It’s Switzerland that people here mostly confuse with Sweden and not the other way round I think.
Mattias: Maybe because you’re a woman. I think Americans associate Sweden somehow with women. But like Fernanda, I have only met very few Americans. When I went to buy fabric recently, they asked me where I was from. And then they said, ‘Ah Sweden’, that’s that tiny country with the nice chocolate.
Sandra: That’s so funny, it’s actually the opposite from what always happens to me. They will always end up meaning Sweden and NOT Switzerland.
Sandra: What about you Ly?
Ly: It’s a bit of a similar experience to Mattias and Fernanda. As Boston is such an international place, I haven’t met that many real Bostonians up until now. Most of the Americans I meet are actually my Uber drivers.
Sandra: Interesting, what about them?
Ly: First off they think I’m from China. But when I say ‘No, I’m from Vietnam’, they’ll say ‘Oh, you’re from Vietnam, I love phở’. I think phở seems to be very popular, so everyone seems to know and like it.
Sandra: That’s so interesting, so the first association people have is with phở.
Sandra: From the top of your head, what’s your favorite American food or drink item?
Fernanda: (very fast response) Mac and Cheese.
Sandra: That was very fast. Any other foods?
Fernanda: That’s the only American food I’ve discovered. All the other foods I’ve gotten to know here are not American, like Vietnamese food, which I really like.
Sandra: In terms of drinks any favorites?
Fernanda: Well, something I like is that craft beers are a huge thing here. My husband and I are really into it and it’s very easy to find specialty beers.
Sandra: Nobody says doughnuts, I’m so surprised. You don’t like doughnuts?
Ly: No, not really. It’s quite difficult to tell if a food is American because their cuisine has so many influences from different places. I actually really like Avocado toast.
Sandra: That’s very healthy.
Ly: I’m not quite sure if it’s a special dish but I really like it.
Fernanda: I think it started off as an Australian thing.
Ly: I think they put Avocado on everything here.
Sandra: Yeah, it’s trendy.
Ly: And it’s quite surprising for me. Even though we have a lot of avocados in Vietnam too, I never eat in a savoury dish, like on bread or in a salad, we eat it as a sweet. Normally we prepare it with milk and sugar or in a smoothie.
Mattias: I pretty much always eat at home, so I couldn’t say. The most American I do, is that I drink a lot of Diet Coke, which I don’t do otherwise.
Stay tuned for part 2 of the interview where we’ll cover American daily life. It’s a good one.
how are you doing? It’s getting summery over here, I’m loving it. Hope you’ve had the opportunity to catch some sun where you live!
So, it’s Monday. I know, I know. When brainstorming for new blog posts a couple of weeks ago I thought I’d like to challenge myself in June with a special challenge every week (#ChallengeMeJune if you will, genius hashtag I know). Anyways, the first week’s challenge was to set my alarm to 6 o’clock every day (for some that might be not early at all or totally normal already, in which case I salute you. Others will look at me like, whaaat?). Some context here: I never used to be an early riser, really I wasn’t. I would stay up rather late, watch series, read, scroll through the internets. In the morning I’d have a hard time waking up and would keep hitting that snooze button many (many) times.
But you know what? Getting up early was amazing.
Yes. And I’d even go as far as saying that it changed my life. I’m getting a bit dramatic here, it’s true though.
Why should I do that, you ask? (or in other words, “you crazy, I ain’t gonna give up my precious sleep time“). I’m going to try and give you some good arguments here, ok?
Let’s be honest here for a minute. You can’t convince yourself to wake up early just because. If you’d like to try that challenge, ask yourself, “What would I get if I wake up early?” Whatever you answer, make sure you really want it because that’s what will be your motivation to ACTUALLY get up in the morning. A few answers why you’d like to consider getting up early.
You’ll Get More Time (D’oh)
I read somewhere that if you were to get up just one hour earlier each morning, you’d gain 15 days in a year. How crazy is it to think about it like that. So you better want to use this time than sleep, right?
Get Active, Quiet or Creative (Whichever You Prefer)
I found that the morning is a great time to exercise. You’re body is well rested and it will set you up for the day with energy and motivation. Overall I felt more productive getting up early this week, it made me feel calmer and happier. If you’re not into sports in the early morning hours but rather into meditation, do it! I’m going to give it a try this week. Also, if you have some tips in that department, do let me know. Others like to use this time to read the newspapers in silence, to be creative, paint or write.
You’ll feel One Step Ahead
Having that one to two extra hours in the morning will undoubtedly make you feel calm, prepared for the day and chill, when everyone else around you is rushing around. When you wake up early, you’ll have more time for planning and getting organized. Getting to the office early means no distractions and getting things done (and then hopefully leaving early in the evening).
I’d really like you to try getting up early, I think you will like it. NO, SERIOUSLY. Don’t laugh at me.
Go to bed an hour earlier so that you won’t be too tired the next morning. It may take a couple of days to adjust your body and mind to it but once you’re in it you’ll most likely not want to go back. Obviously a lie in every once in a while is GREAT (not gonna lie) but overall it’s a great new habit. Start tomorrow and let me know how it went!
I have been reflecting lately on how this American experience has changed me (be it small or big things) and wanted to share my thoughts in today’s post.
It made me wear gym leggings in public. And not care about how I look that much anymore. Seriously, I’m not just saying that. It’s true people.
On a more serious note: It changed my understanding of American culture. Even though I had travelled to the US several times before moving here, most preconceptions I had about American culture and daily life came from tv shows (hello Glee), movies and other people’s opinions. Obviously, even though there usually is some grain of truth in there, reality is different (what a surprise). What I’ve encountered and experienced here is that people are incredibly open and friendly. Especially in the first few months after my arrival people I newly met and told about my background were all very supportive and literally everyone would say “Welcome to America”. I don’t know why this simple sentence stuck with me so much but I found it to be such a nice detail. I also thought that if I were to have the same conversation in Switzerland with someone that had recently moved there I would never say “Welcome to Switzerland”. (Maybe I’m just not a friendly person or would you?). What I’m trying to say is that given the international and migrational backgrounds that basically everyone has that you meet here, people tend to be curious and welcoming towards “newcomers”, which is a nice experience. Furthermore, what I found to be even nicer, is how people here are genuinely involved with their community and do a lot of volunteering. Much more than is usual in Switzerland I think. It is regarded a total normality to be engaged in some sort of activity in your community and to spend time volunteering. I really do appreciate this “can do attitude”, where everyone wants to help each other out, at least around here. I think that communal feeling is what has surprised me the most (in a positive way).
It reshaped my values. My generation is seeking in attaining extreme levels of success, notoriety (ha), or success in whatever they do (I know generalizing). Still, there is a constant thirst for more and to be more. While that may sound exaggerating I think that it is somewhat true, we (and I’m not excluding myself) are always looking into ways of further evolving and being successful at what we do. However, when I moved to the US, I was forced to slow down. A lot. I had to sort out all of my paperwork for the work permit, had to figure out this new living situation etc. The far slower pace of my life translated into me putting more time into relationships with friends (and new friends), personal interests and hobbies than into professional prowess, which was something I had never done to that extent when I was working before. As I am now back into the whole application madness, I look back and reconsider that it is important putting enough time aside for your personal interests, friends and family.
It made me more open-minded. This sounds really cliché, but it’s just so true! Living abroad does something incredible: You are exposed to an eclectic bunch of different people and you learn more not only about others and their approach to life but also about yourself. I’m already grateful for the many fantastic people from all over the word that I’ve met, that I’ve had conversations with (even if it was about seemingly small daily life things like what sort of food or shoes are typical for the place they are from). I loved every bit of it. Because it allowed me to learn about people, their experiences and other cultures in such a personal and deep way. Even as a European meeting people from Finland, Sweden, Denmark makes me realize how little we know from each other. Not to mention, all my new friends from China, South Korea, Vietnam or India, which is even more interesting! In short: My change in attitude has been brought about by the people I have met and the friends I have made.
It changed my language skills and ability to communicate When I arrived in the US, I was a confident English speaker I’d say. Still, I found it awkward at times speaking in English (to the extent where I would plan what I would say when I was going into a bakery or government office). Now, I am in a state where I don’t even think about it anymore, I. JUST. TALK. I’ am definitely enjoying speaking English, I sometimes even will drop a word or two in English when speaking to Philipp (and he will be looking at me like ???!!). Just because they seem more fitting to me than the German version of them.
Have you also lived abroad for a while? If so, how did it change you? I’d love to hear!
One: This is my post #101, crazy isn’t it? Would love to hear from you if there’s anything you’d like me to write about! Let me know in the comments below (don’t be shy!).
Two: A good friend of mine once mentioned to me that he saves links from interesting stuff he stumbles across on the internet during the week to then read it on the weekends. I found that interesting and tried to do it myself this week, hope you’ll enjoy my eclectic choice of links that I will read up on this Sunday. Have a fantastic weekend yourself!
“U.S. life expectancy varies by more than 20 years from county to county” says the headline of this Washington Post article. I’m like whaaaatt? Bookmarked. I’m going to read that. In case you’re into finding out more too, join me.
Another article, this time by the NYT got my attention. It’s a (much needed) fact check on the G.O.P. Health Bill. And yes, I will have to read that in order to not create any alternative facts when discussing it with people around me (get the pun?, maybe it’s a bit far fetched). Thanks NYT!
This one goes out to my local friends: The two main source I turn to when I’m in a weekend planning mood and want to know what’s going on around here is The Boston Magazine and the Scout Cambridge. If you don’t know them yet, check them out, they’ve got great ideas and articles about what to do and see! If you’re just interested in events and the like, there’s the Boston Calendar, which is also great!
The Huffington Post shares some rather interesting news with us: Basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal is running for Sheriff?
Don’t roll your eyes at me. I told you this was the random category.
Nonetheless, I want to know more about it, do you? Read about it here.
The noisy and curious person I am, I like this site ‘My Morning Routine’ a lot. People with all different kinds of backgrounds (athletes, business people, creatives etc.) share their morning routines. Always like to read up on some of them, as I find it interesting and inspiring!
The weekend is not only all about the foods you eat but also about thinking ahead what to make for next week. Two inspirational and trusted sources on this matter are Lucky Peach and Bon Appetit.
Photos, photos, photos
Do you know the feeling, when you get sucked into a world of amazing images that almost make you feel like you are part of them? The Time and the National Geographicsure know they stuff.
What will you be reading up on in the internets this weekend? I’d love to know! Byeee!
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.
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.
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?
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!
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?
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?
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.
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?
(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.
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!