On Maria, 14 years, Part I

How does a polyglot who lived in three countries prior to CH adapt ? Part I „I fell in love with my husband before I met him. We met online & spoke with each other every day for three years before I knew what he looked like. When we finally met, it felt like the […]

How does a polyglot who lived in three countries prior to CH adapt ? Part I

„I fell in love with my husband before I met him. We met online & spoke with each other every day for three years before I knew what he looked like. When we finally met, it felt like the right thing for me to do: to move to Switzerland.

At that point, I had lived in three countries & spoke three languages. I thought moving to Switzerland would not be that difficult.

Boy, was I wrong.

My first years here were a very lonely time. A very lonely time.

I had no job transfer; no job. I only knew my husband, & we lived with his brother & his mother in the same apartment.

His family did not trust me. They thought I wanted the red passport – which made no sense ! I have an EU passport – it’s more powerful than the red.

My step-mother-in-law used to spit High German at me. I hated it. Swiss-German sounds musical. High German sounds as if the person is spitting at you. She wanted me to learn High German. Why ? I live in Switzerland ?! I replied to her always in English.

Learning the language here became a personal trauma. I became terrified someone would engage me on the tram, so I would pretend to be on my cell phone &, when I did, I spoke in English.

I was very scared. I became a recluse for two years. I gained 25 kilos.

I started having panic attacks & developed the fear that I would not find enough to stock my house. In the UK, stores are huge. Here, the stores are tiny, but when they have a sale, you can find everything at half off ! So my life revolved around shopping. 

I became a hoarder.

My personal best came the day I fit 10 packs of nappies and one child in a pram, while pregnant. They were 50% off – I couldn’t pass that up ! I’m still very proud of that 🙂

When I turned 30, my husband gave me money. I wanted a new crockery set. So, I waited for a 50% off sale, & accumulated a 24 piece crockery set — after several pram trips. 

I grew up in France & Portugal. I learned both languages quickly & adapted fast. Within two months of moving to the UK, I knew English. That was a big reason why I moved to Switzerland, rather than my husband moving to the UK; I thought I would adapt quickly. 

I completely underestimated how difficult it is to move to Switzerland. 

The Swiss are so closed in their daily routines. In the things they do & don’t do. It’s Swiss rules; Swiss way of life. Which is OK, but sometimes … I once started the tumbler on a Sunday & the commotion it caused ! I thought maybe I had started World War III ! My husband came running to turn it off.“

„Ha ha ha … I do my laundry whenever I want ! I’m not that way,“ interrupted a very beautiful, well-appointed older Swiss woman, obviously secure with her privileges & place in this world. „Pshaaw … no one can tell me what to do & when.“

And then with a swish of this Swiss woman’s dismissive wrist, all of Maria’s sufferings had vanished. Were never even there to begin with. Because that’s how compassion & understanding works: you just eavesdrop onto someone’s story & deny their pain. Ignore anyone’s suffering & just like magic, it goes away … 

for you.  

XO

AS

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