This Canadians angle on living in the countryside of Switzerland ( i.e please note that the things I have written here are from my perspective and might be entirely different elsewhere in this Lovely country.) So here I am, in my Swiss home (I live half time in Switzerland with my Swiss husband, and the other half we live in the quaint village of Wakefield, Quebec.) We have been here for a few weeks now, enjoying the nature, fresh air, great food and his wonderful family. It is a piece of paradise here, we have sheep grazing in the fields around our house and there is a fresh water spring right outside our front door. Things are, of course, a little different here, as one would expect, but nothing too 'far fetched' that I can't get accustomed to. For instance, we shop for groceries alMOST on a daily basis, our fridge is just a smidgen larger than a bar fridge that you might find in a Canadian hotel. I actually don't mind the smaller space, I suppose if our household held more than two people, it would be a different story. I could also tell you about how on Sundays, even the 'not-so-devotional' take a break and rest. One can not make really loud noises on a Sunday i.e chainsaw, mow the lawn etc. Oh and our chimney is cleaned TWICE a year over here and if they find any metal in there i.e a nail from a board, there will be fined! People here are very concerned about how their lawn/house looks. You will very rarely see a house that has junk around it and almost always see flower boxes filled to the brim around all the windows and the gardens are spectacular. Many folks around here grow food, in fact we planted our very first garden together this year and all from seed!! We have all types of deliciousness growing; broccoli, lettuce, cucumbers, melons, tomatoes, pumpkins, celery, zucchini, egg plant, radishes.... So much!! (who is to say if any will bear fruit as we may have started it all a little late?) Oh, and here, the main culprit against anything growing is NOT deer/animals looking for a snack (like in Canada) but snails and slugs!! They are everywhere... We have been saving all our used-up coffee grinds as they are supposed to fend of the little guys... Seems to be working (a little) but we are always finding them around. Some people say to put hair around the plants but I just can't. Perhaps I have watched too many episodes of The Walking Dead. No hair in my garden *shudder* On the bus here (mainly in the country, as opposed to big cities) you say hello to the driver and the people on the bus, and when you get off, you thank the driver and say 'have a nice day.' My Swiss German is getting better, I can now say all of that ;) Here, they say 'Hallo zäma' or 'Grüezi Mitenand' which basically means 'Hello Together' (you never say zäma or mitenand when there is just one person.) Indeed, there are many things to learn over here, especially in the language department, but I can 'get by.' I know the giggles come from the fact I say things differently, but everyone now knows what I am talking about (when I need them to!) which is SOMEthing, right?? And we use our hands a LOT.
I Love my little life up here, out here, and I have to say, I am a healthier person while living here. There are not nearly as many options for junk food (there are two main flavours of potato chips here; Regular and Paprika -which tastes faintly of our BBQ version- you can get Salt 'n Vinegar in some places, and and a few other types but most of those 'specialty' brands are too expensive and you get very little. Nacho chips are also few and far between definitely no Tostitos or Doritos (how I miss the Zesty Cheese!!) There are no fast food restaurants anywhere near-by, so we have to cook!! While over yonder, in Wakefield, the options to eat out are simply endless.. I think there are at least fifteen places with tantalizing food options (okay, Tim Horton's not so much.) I do miss the easiness of life over there, some nights I have no idea what to prepare and am SO bored of my options (I just want a poutine!!) Some days I wish someone else would do it for me (Pizza delivery??) but mostly I am okay with it. Any type of food product that has anything to do with cream/milk is simply the BEST over here though. One of the famous desserts here is the combination of Ice Cream, Whipped Cream and Meringue. Oh my god. Yum. The bread here is unreal too. Many people that I have known with a bread allergy can eat it over here. It must be the lack of shit they spray on the wheat fields, who knows, but no tummy aches from eating it. You can buy freshly baked bread at all the grocery stores, crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. It is so darn good! Take that bread, add a little Gruyere cheese and a glass of red wine and you have the perfect meal. Well, a perfect starter, anyway. (is anyone else getting hungry??)
People here are also wonderful, once you make the effort to get to know one, that is. If you have the courage to speak with someone (first,) you will generally get warmth in return, maybe even an invite to dinner (being a foreigner has its perks!) I have heard it said that the Swiss are 'prudish, straight-laced,' but in reality, the people here are just a little more respectful of privacy and mindful. I would also say generous. If you make a friend here, you will have them for life, there is a great sense of loyalty in a friendship here. I would never put the term 'wishy-washy' alongside Swiss. There are definitely a LOT of rules here though. Possibly because the country is so small, but almost everything has to be accounted for. If you want a dog, you have to take a six month course on how to be a good dog parent, i.e you must get a license. If you want to burn some brush in your field, you have to get in touch with the forest ranger in your area for permission. If a law is to be changed, the country is sent info about it in the mail, with voting cards, and everyone votes on it. Decisions are not made by one head man in power. The people here have a voice and they use it. Oh and recycling is amazing. There is a spot in every village/town and in various places across cities where you can put your recycling. A separate box for white glass, brown glass, green glass and a spot for all metals. The plastics get put in a container at your grocery store. There is actually a nice rhythm to it all, even if a little meticulous. I think many places around the world could learn a lot about how things can be done in a more reliable manner. Some rules I would scrap, of course, but many, I can live with!!
For now I am happy here, but always, no matter what, a small part of me is missing my Canadian life... just like while I am in Canada, a small part of me longs for Switzerland.
You just can't have it all :)
Hugs in the interim,