I have to interrupt my recapping of our New Zealand trip to make a very important announcement… 😉
Today is exactly one year since I moved to Switzerland!
Regular readers will have been following along with my adventures from the start, so in the interests of not boring you (any more than I have to) I’m going to make this a very brief recap in numbers.
So, without further ado, here’s what I’ve been doing for the past year:
Times swum in the Rhine: Once – I’m a bit of a wimp!
Fasnacht events attended: Four(ish)
(Swiss) places visited – 16 (Fribourg, Lucerne, Mount Pilatus, Sissach, Liestag, Olten, Mariastein Abbey, Papilorama (butterfly park), Engelberg-Titlis, Bottmingen, Bern, Zurich, Lausanne, Arlesheim, Laufen, Allschwil)
Friends made – possibly 1? I haven’t heard from her since we had coffee though.
Meetup.com events attended: 10 (that’s almost one a month. At least I’m kind of making an effort)
Chocolate bars consumed: More than I care to think about…
Visitors shown around Basel: 17 (that’s more people than I showed around Karlsruhe in 8 years of living there!)
Times I’ve had to remind myself that I actually live in this beautiful place: At least once a week!
All in all, you could say living in Switzerland agrees with me (but not with my waistline… why must the chocolate be so tasty… and the cheese… and the Rösti!). I definitely do not regret deciding to take the chance and move here. Now if somebody could just tell me how to make friends as an adult (a socially awkward adult who fails miserably at small talk and is scared of people…) that would be great!
34 thoughts on “Switzerland, one year on”
Re the making friends thing – forget the locals. Now’s the time to get your Spanish back on track – offer language exchanges (over coffee) to Spanish people, in English and German. I have several Portuguese people living in Switzerland who talk to me to practise, because the locals cannot be arsed.
I don’t even know how to go about meeting locals – our building is full of foreigners, and even Jan’s colleagues are almost all German! It’s fellow foreigners I’ve been failing to click with at the meetup events. Probably because I suck at small talk, in every language! I’ve met English, American, French, German, Italian, Indian and Spanish people, and even one girl from Macedonia. None of them are interested in getting together outside of meetup.
I see… how frustrating. I’m crap at group meets (I also hate small talk), but am usually fine 1-2-1. I made most of my friends by doing language tandems. The best way of getting people to be interested in you, I find, is to offer something they want. There must be some websites where you can find some interested people…
Meeting people 1-2-1 is terrifying! I have to do all the talking… in a group my awkward silences are so much less noticeable.
Yes, but that strategy isn’t working, is it…? Just start off asking them a few innocuous questions about themselves, in the language they want to practice. The first five minutes are always a bit awkward, but you are both there for a reason…
Don’t know if this helps, but I found it easier to make friends with other foreigners in Italy once I’d been here long enough that I could meet people who were more recent arrivals than me and be able to help them with things like “this is how the bureaucracy/public transport system/etc works”… Partly because having a bit of extra knowledge was what it took to help me be more socially confident (I also suck at small talk!)
I need to find me some recent arrivals! Haha. I was already ahead of a lot of new arrivals when I got here because so many things are similar to Germany (in this part of Switzerland, at least), and also already speaking fairly fluent German helps (although Swiss German is so much harder to understand!). I’m not socially confident in my own country/language though – I’ve never been any good at making friends.
I understand your pain! Most of my friends here have either been the gregarious type that you can’t shut up, work colleagues or made through church. So really, I’m afraid I can be no help whatsoever. Could you host a dinner event – with a mix of people you have met through MeetUP? (What is that?) Mind you, if I did that I would be afraiod they would all just love each other and not talk to me – but that’s just me, I’m afraid!!
That’s the downside of still working in Germany/from home – all my colleagues are there! A lot of people make friends at church. Unfortunately I’m not religious!
Meetup is a website with groups where people can meet new people in their local area. There are some for different interests (e.g. horseback riding, rock climbing), but the ones I joined are general “new in town and want to make friends” groups, mostly made up of expats, since actual Swiss people have friends from school/work, etc. Unfortunately a lot of people seem to see meetup as a “separate” social thing, so if they want to see “meetup people” they’ll attend an event, but then they have their “real life” friends to do things without outside of meetup.
Congrats on the anniversary! Can sympathize on the friends issue though… it’s so much harder as an adult and if you suck in group situations (in that boat with you for sure), it seems impossible. I’ll second the language tandem route, as that worked pretty well when I first arrived here. I met a lot of people fairly quickly but gotta watch out for those that use it as a dating service. 😉 Hope to hear a good update on that front soon!
Thanks! I suck less in group situations than one-on-one because I can let other people talk, which disguises the fact that I’m a weirdo with nothing to say (no awkward silences!), but means people like the ones doing the talking better.
Impressive. I get overwhelmed and overdrink in the corner.
I just sit in silence and try to look like I’m listening intently 😉
(Now if we ever meet you’ll know my trick).
Hahaha. I would hope that it’d be at least easier with other blogging folk… at least there’s a little background info to jump from!
Ditto everything that heather said. It’s really difficult to meet new people without some sort of group as a social lubricant. The majority of the people that I befriended in Germany were either because of the English-speaking stammtisch, or because they were fellow bloggers like yourself. Those two groups and my colleagues account for absolutely everyone I met over there.
Congrats on the year in!
I moved to Switzerland August 2004 so roughly 11 years ago. It is hard to make friends in Switzerland I know believe me. I congratulate you on your 1 year anniversary. I am going to read your post properly again but the bit of advice I can to a newbie is be open, and don’t let it get you down. Use the online community to connect with others with common interests, and just get out a lot to the big cities. Or perhaps you live in one, as I said I haven’t completely read your post. After so many years I have a excuse the old fashioned pun ‘bossom friend’. Yes she is non Swiss, but we have known each other for 8 years or so we met applying for the same job, so don’t disqualify anyone. It is possible believe me, besides her I made English or foreign friends at work. Now that I am home and a blogger that is more complicated. I do have Swiss friends but they have all left Switzerland except for one, I mean that I don’t know through my husband somehow. Learn the language and dialect. Or be open to it. Just try they love it when you try. And don’t be worried about meeting people. It is OK to be alone sometimes. The other day I met someone via Instagram. She is a quilter to a completely different culture and we met and it is like we are best friends now. Let it happen when it happens. The internet is a lifesaver.
Good luck and get to know the Swiss, enjoy it and accept that you are different and hold on to your differences while embracing the new.
Some of these truths I have only comprehended in the last few years. I look forward to getting to know you.
Thank you Jodie 🙂 I speak German, but not Swiss German… I lived in Germany for over 8 years and my boyfriend is German 🙂 I live just outside Basel, so going to meetups is easier. Finding people who want to get to know me not so much.
Well I think it is just age. When we were younger, and I had the same issues you are going through now, we met people easily through school. Now that we are older and complete foreigners it takes a lot more effort to make a new circle of friends. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Have you ever read any of the ticking along wtih the swiss books by bergli books publishers. They are really good. I am so much happier now that I have just lowered my expectations. I am such an introvert, but I have just learnt that you have to work at relationships, once you find something in common just go on that one thing and connect for that. Everything else will fall in place if it is meant to. Good luck.
What a great round up! Maybe I should do a round-up of all the chocolate bars I’ve eaten this year…
Haha, I would like to see that!
ugh making friends as an adult is so hard, i wish i had advice but i am here 4 years later with no new friends, but plenty of imaginary friends from books!
I have plenty of imaginary book friends 😀 And of course my Internet friends.
I’m a bit late to the conversation, but I thought I would still leave a comment 🙂
I guess making friends as an adult is difficult everywhere, especially with no kids. I see other women who have kids and they all make “mommy friends” because they have the kids in common and they play together. On my first year in Lausanne I joined the photography club to be able to meet people with the same passion, but as you said above people aren’t really interested in doing things outside the meetup/club…
Internet is great for finding like-minded people and connecting with them, however it’s still a virtual friendship and sometimes you just want to go out to have tea and chat. Be able to look the person in the eyes, laugh together! I guess if you’re able to connect with people online and then eventually meet, it’s the perfect combination. 😉
And hopefully if I meet people online first I’ll be less awkward when I eventually meet them in person! 🙂
Thanks for your comment. We’re going to another meetup on Friday so we’ll see if anything comes of that. My boyfriend joined a choir, but it turns out it’s not a great way to make friends because everyone is a lot older and not interested in hanging out with thirty-somethings.
Oh, and I’ve thought about things like photography/crafts classes but they’re SO expensive!!
Yes… I was looking at “creative writing” classes the other day and they’re expensive too! Be part of a club seems to be a cheaper option. I hope your meetup on Friday will go well 🙂
Wow! A year already? Congratulations and yay! It’s always hard to meet people and make friends. My first few years in Hamburg were a bit rough when it came to that. When it happens, though, I’m sure you’ll feel even more at home there.
Thanks. I’m hoping once we finally have kids it will get a bit easier, since I’ll be able to go to playgroups and things.
I find it hard to make friends that want to meet nowadays or that I have the courage to ask! My husband too. He recently had a really big depressed rant to me about how he has no friends and he finds it hard to make them. He was so gloomy. I was like, “But you’ve got me!” and he was like, “But….” etc.
It is SO hard as an adult too!!!! I did make a lot of friends through church. At my old church, I made so many friends who I am now still good friends with. At my current church, I’m friendly with a few people (in fact that’s how I am living in my current house!) but I don’t feel like I have friends I can socialise much with yet. I think it would help if I went to the 20’s-30’s home group that all my age go to!!!
Can’t believe you have been there a year already!!!x
Congrats on your one year anniversary! I have no making friends advice, because I suck at it and have resigned myself to a life with little to no friends. I’m ok with that 🙂
I’m mostly okay with having no friends, then I have fits of wanting to figure out why I’m so unlikeable.
I’m not sure how I missed this post, but I just saw it now. I can’t believe it’s been a year already! Time surely flies. And as so many others have said, I understand the making friends thing. I also suck at small talk and superficial conversation. My husband and I are homebodies, and the idea of attending a social gathering makes us both uncomfortable. I really only have one friend here, and that’s ok with me. Through volunteering I have quite a few acquaintances that I genuinely enjoy chatting with. Perhaps that’s something you could try if you have time. But once you start, it’s hard to get out if you find out it’s not for you!