‘My Story’ shares the experiences of an Indian living in Switzerland. Meet Subha Raj, who has been living in Switzerland for the last 10 years and loving it. She, “dreams in Tamil, speaks in English and struggles in German.” Subha is a blogger who shares her experiences at http://boosbabytalk.blogspot.ch.
Q: TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF
I am a small town girl from Tamil Nadu, married to a city boy and we live in Switzerland with our two daughters who are from here, there and everywhere.
Q: WHAT DO YOU DO?
Ah! The most dreaded question for a stay at home mom! I used to be a software engineer in my past life which was cut quite short when I decided to pack my bags and join my husband when he had to move to London for work. And then the kids happened. So I feel like a full-time mom on a good day and a glorified driver/cook on other days. Depends on which part of the day you are asking! Other than that, I love reading and dabble in a little bit of writing on my blog whenever I get time away from my Netflix addiction. I travel a lot and photography interest me too. I also love finding new restaurants to eat out. I love dancing and channelise my inner “Michael Jackson” by choreographing dances for kids and adults at random events.
Q: WHERE DO YOU LIVE AND WHAT BROUGHT YOU HERE TO SWITZERLAND?
I joined my husband in Zurich in 2007 with our then 2-year-old daughter and two suitcases. 10 years later, we moved to Basel with a rebellious pre-teen, a 9-year-old drama queen and a truckload of stuff.
Q: DO YOU LIKE IT HERE, WHAT DO YOU LOVE AND WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?
If you had asked me this question in the first few years of coming to Switzerland, my answer would have been a, no! The winters were dark and gloomy, I had no friends, my kids were quite young and I barely spoke any German. I was just grinning and bearing it and was hoping we would move soon. But in about 5 years, things changed. My German improved, the kids were in the local school which meant more integration into the community, our family dabbled in winter sports and I made some lovely friends. It took a little bit of everything to make this country feel like home. Other than the typical Swiss stuff, the one thing I Iove about living here is the WOW factor! It’s a great conversation starter when I’m making small talk with people back in India or when visiting my sister in the USA. “Wow! You live in Switzerland!” One never gets used to that reaction! I would not change a thing in Switzerland.
Q: AS A MOTHER OF TWO, ANY PARENTING ADVICE THAT YOU’D LIKE TO GIVE FELLOW EXPATS IN SWITZERLAND
Parenting is tough by itself and even more so when we don’t have a support system. As a mother, I believe in the mantra, “Happy Moms make for Happy Kids”. We need to take care of our physical and mental well being. There is no shame in getting help when needed. Finding a support group with other parents with similar aged kids worked great for me. If you are moving to Switzerland with kids under 10, the local school is a great option. Older kids may find it tougher to settle in the local school because of the language but I know people who have done it too. Other than that, the great Swiss outdoors have loads to offer for children and my personal favourites are the theme trails for hiking with children.
Q. DO YOU HAVE ANY WORDS OF WISDOM TO HELP FELLOW EXPATS INTEGRATE?
The initial years are tough but that is true anywhere. Language is a big issue here and learning it makes life easier. Language classes are a great way to meet people too. And there are lots of local groups for walking, cycling, etc.. which does not require more than Grüezi and a Tschüss! I still remember my first aerobics and yoga class in the Migros Fitnesspark where I did not know a soul or speak a word of German but strictly copied the person in front of me and that’s how I learnt my “links” from my “rechts”! 🙂 As with everything in life, a positive attitude goes a long way.