Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Zurich, etc.
I’m Caitlin from San Francisco, California. I love to cook, craft, bake, and practice yoga. I left my career in real estate behind to follow my husband and his job to Zürich in March of 2013 and don’t regret it one bit!
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I actually started blogging back in 2011 while still in the US as a creative outlet from my first job out of college. When I came to Zurich, it was just a natural transition to start talking about my experiences in my posts during this big life change.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Since living in Switzerland, we've gone to Oktoberfest in Munich every year, and plan to go every year we are here because we love it so much. This past year, we managed to talk our group of friends from the U.S. to join us and needless to say, it was a great weekend. I made some festive "brezel" bracelets for all the girls to wear that weekend. For my blog post, I combined the bracelet tutorial with pictures from our fun trip. I love it when I can personalize a recipe or craft tutorial with my own experiences, probably because I enjoy reading those types of posts on other blogs as well.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Zurich differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
Where do I even begin?! I am constantly noticing differences, some good and some not so good, but all learning experiences just the same. I remember so clearly my first visit to the Coop. I didn’t realize I had to weigh my bananas and the cashier told me with a straight face and a touch of annoyance that I needed to weigh them at the scale. I thought she was treating me like a dumb foreigner but it turns out that’s just how she is: straightforward with no niceties. This type of customer service is hard for me to get used to, but at least I have learned to not take it personally. To make up for the customer service, I have easily adjusted to the flawless transportation system, cleanliness, and safety of the city. It’s generally much quieter than any other city I’ve lived in, which was odd to me at first, but I’ve grown to love the silence on the trams and being able to hear conversations at restaurants. I now fully realize how loud Americans actually are. I wrote a bit more about adjusting to Zurich on this S’more Brownie blog post.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Zurich? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I don’t think any amount of preparation can fully prepare anyone for this type of move. I don’t think there is anything I would have changed, other than hesitating less. Knowing now how great it is, I didn’t need to worry so much about leaving my career, family, and friends. Home will always be there, but this experience abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
It's hard to think of them on the spot, though I know there are many! One thing that comes to mind is when I was away and my husband had to do laundry over the weekend. When we first arrived, we thought it was so weird that you have to sign up for a laundry time slot and that laundry isn't allowed on Sundays. But, we followed the rules, and he had signed up for that Saturday morning. When he went down to start his laundry, someone had taken up all three wash machines. He was so mad and called me immediately to complain about the rude person who didn’t sign up and I just had to laugh. He'd turned Swiss about laundry.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Zurich?
- Swiss are blunt to everyone. Remember that it has nothing to do with you.
- Don't be alarmed when you get yelled at while crossing the street on a red man.
- Stop freaking out about the high Swiss prices, and start enjoying your cheap dinner bill when you travel.
How is the expat community in Zurich? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
The expat community has been more than great. I immediately met a ton of like-minded American women and within the first year, I felt like I had my community. The only bad part is having to say goodbye often, because everyone is on different time schedules to return to the US.
How would you summarize your expat life in Zurich in a single, catchy sentence?
Our Zurich life is simple yet adventurous, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.