Before we moved here, I was always amazed at people who would leave their homeland, of their own accord, and set up roots somewhere completely new. It felt so, so exotic to me. (Of course, it never really occurred to me that I know many people in the US who are expats. Hmmm.)
Our situation is one of the simplest reasons for moving abroad, a sabbatical year. I know I would have a different attitude if I thought it would be longer, or forever.
We’ve met people who are here because their job brought them here. The families have come along and are making a way for themselves, as well. The attitudes between these people have been varied. I was saddened to speak to one woman who said that they would be here (sigh) until her husband retires, and then they can finally go back home to Canada. She seems resigned, having been here eight years with another 20 or so to go.
I have met people who have had children here who are cultural mix of Swiss and their parents’ homeland. Some have married a Swiss person and have nestled their way into the culture and life here.
Because restaurant seating is more communal in Europe, we have spoken with a variety of people while out. We sat with a family in a German restaurant where the husband is Dutch, the wife is Brazilian, and their 4-year-old son speaks to each parent in their language. They live in Zug and the boy is learning German and English, as well. All perfectly normal for them, all very amazing to me. They seem very happy to be in Switzerland.
If I knew I were to be here indefinitely, I would put a good deal of energy into learning Swiss German, at least ZüriDeutsch. We have already made friends in the expat community, so we have a social foundation, but I would take the long, slow road of getting to know the locals. I would also spend more energy into making the holidays meaningful, but knowing that next year I will be home gives me the freedom to do something new that I know will not become a tradition.
As for now, though, I am just trying to enjoy even the ordinary days, knowing that all too soon I will be thinking fondly on them.