Monday, November 29, 2010
Expat Experiences: Switzerland - Chantal Panozzo, Zurich
Who are you?
I’m an American writer and copywriter living in a small town near Zurich, Switzerland. I write about life in Switzerland on my blog, www.onebigyodel.com. I also write about how to survive (and thrive) as an international creative person at Writer Abroad www.writerabroad.com. In addition, I’m the co-founder of the Zurich Writers Workshop www.zurichwritersworkshop.com
Where, when and why did you move abroad?
I moved from the USA to Switzerland in 2006. Why? Curiosity more than anything else. My husband had a chance to take a job there and while I was worried about giving up my job as a copywriter, and therefore what seemed like my entire identity, I knew that if I didn’t go, I’d always be haunted by the “what if?”
What challenges did you face during the move?
Well, for one, our shipping container had “China Shipping” written across it in big, block letters, which seemed awfully suspicious at the time. I had nightmares that involved all my stuff being sent to China while I sat in an empty Swiss apartment with nothing to show for my life but a fondue pot. Luckily, this didn’t happen and our stuff arrived seven weeks after we did. But sadly, not before our inflatable air mattress broke.
How did you find somewhere to live?
We had a relocation agent. We thought we wanted to live in a house (we were Americans, after all), but then we realized most of the houses in Switzerland were in the middle of nowhere and that sheep cut the grass instead of lawn mowers. So our agent found us an apartment in the center of town. We had to complete several forms stating salary, nationality, how long our fingernails were, well, ok, maybe not the latter, but boy are you scrutinized before you’re allowed to live anywhere in Switzerland. It took so long for the powers at be to approve us, I thought we’d become the first homeless problem in Switzerland in the process. Anyhow, we didn’t, and we got our chosen apartment, which was near a clock tower that dinged every 15 minutes. I assumed they would turn it off at night. Silly me. I had a lot to learn about...
Read more about the challenges of life in Switzerland