Living and working in Swtizerland: a short retrospective

For almost four years I worked (and lived) in Switzerland. It was really a mixed bag. In retrospect I guess I had a good time, but I know for a fact I wasn’t happy the entire time. That seems contradictory I know. And I’m writing this in stream of consciousness mode, so let me try and explain what I mean by that to myself. Bit of background, this was my first full time job, so I knew nothing else. Whatever happened during those four years or so, I assumed to be normal. I know I’m not special in any way, I’m just a “regular” guy.

Firstly, Switzerland is boring for the average early twenties just out of university guy. And probably the average person in their twenties in general. Sure, there’s outdoor activity potential coming out of your ass, but not that many people actually want to be outside all the time Skiing, mountain climbing, hiking or god knows what. What does the average “normal” guy want? Well, I suppose some kind of social life that enables them to speak to girls on a regular basis, and hang out with the bros/get into shenanigans with them (an article on shenanigans TBC). Well that’s me anyway. Secondly, we need money to enable us to buy alcohol. Partying is just awful in Switzerland. This is the mentality of how to party there; who has the biggest dick. What I mean by that is, who can reserve the VIP section seats. Who can manage to buy the special ice bath bottles of vodka with sparklers coming out, who is dressed the most impressively. Who is the most rich person here, or the biggest douche. And it works, I went to high school in Switzerland a few years prior, with many rich kids as my friends. But when I came back a few years later for work and a bit more mature, I was in no mood for this bullshit. The Swiss even have a stick too far up their asses to be able to call drinking drinking. They call it “apero”, which is short for aperitif, which means a few drinks before dinner. The actual meaning in most cases is what Brits call pre drinks, or drinking before going out. Just call it how it is please. It’s not funny or clever, and it’s not disguising anything.

In Switzerland I never wanted for money. This became my normal. I wasn’t rich and able to buy multiple cars and houses in that time, but I had significant money left over at the end of every month, and certainly enough to buy a treat or two every month or take up stupid hobbies. And by golly I did. But I was making up for certain things. Like the fact I was bored as fuck, had little to no social life, and of course an insufficient number of females in my life. I would go through various phases in order to entertain myself. One saga was the time where I was adamant I would become an expert in flying remote control airplanes. I destroyed three planes in total, and each time I went out to fly one, I would put whatever plane I took on a flight out of action almost immediately every single time, and have to go home and break out the hot glue. Then there was the internet dating phase. Some background again. Switzerland is empty as fuck. At least it feels that way. The only time you can go out is Friday and Saturday night, and on Sunday EVERYTHING is dead. There’s one or two big cities, but the rest don’t have much going on. Lots of culture and history, soul and all that. But nothing that an average twenty something values hugely. So yeah, hard to find a date on any of those sites, but I did a bunch with moderate success. Learned a lot. Maybe someday I should chronicle them all here anonymously of course. Just to mention a few though. Croatian aupair, Swiss Uni student studying English literature or something, girl that felt like a job interview, girl who had a a concussion on our first date, Ukrainian aupair, math PhD girl… From that and a bit of dabbling with Tinder at the start of Berlin, it’s what taught me to never bother with online dating again. I also had a crazy holiday phase which I’m not sure ever ended. But at the time they included a four day long winter rally course in Finland where I didn’t get the insurance (that would have cost me 2k extra). Then there was trekking in Iceland with no prior camping experience. Or navigation experience. Or hiking. All I could do was play videogames. Badly.

So to summarize, everything works well in Switzerland. Good pay, bureaucracy is easy to navigate, the country makes sense. But it somehow didn’t hit the mark for me at this time in my life. To stay there would have left me missing out on so much in life. It’s too early to be preparing for death in my opinion, and you only go through your twenties once. Staying there and holidaying around the world for a week or two at a time wouldn’t have been the same. I need to travel the world a bit more and complain about it.

If anyone has questions about being an expat in Switzerland let me know. On and off I’ve lived there about ten years.