I have found that I, personally, have an adjustment period as an expat.
It took about 10 months for me to start feeling at home in France and it has taken me about 8 months to adjust to life in Switzerland.
Switzerland has slowly become my home.
However, if you would have asked me last week how I felt about my life here in Switzerland I would have not been as quick to focus on the good but rather the bad. I would have talked about how the Swiss can be hard, negative, prejudice and gossipy. But, in truth the Swiss are no more hard, negative, prejudice or gossipy than the people in America or France.
So, what happened to make me stop looking at the Swiss as “the Swiss” and see them as my neighbors and friends?
I took down my wall.
I stopped looking at my life here in Switzerland as an outsider. This week, I began living my life in Switzerland as if I belong here.
I do belong here.
I am not an outsider unless I let myself be.
We have a great village full of wonderful people that I have neglected for far too long.
The people here are actually pretty open and always ready to lend a hand. Of course, we have small town politics and the rumor mill. However, I can find the same thing in the States or France.
On the whole I like the people in our village and I am happier here than I have ever been. Sweet Bear has two wonderful teachers. The mothers of her classmates are all great. For the most part people here are humorous, light-hearted and kind.
So…Why was I putting up a wall?
You know. It is way to easy to look at things and people in a new country as if you are separated from it all. You nitpick and start to only look at the bad or you create it for yourself.
I think all expats go through this stage and some never move past it.
It is a choice.
You have to take down the wall and start looking at your new country as your home.
There are problems in all countries. There are uneducated prejudiced people in all countries. However, there are more people that are kind and intelligent than there are those that are the opposite…in all countries.
We just have to open our eyes to it.
It is a growing process.
I thought I was past all that after adjusting to life in France. However, I think you have to start over with each country.
Each country has it’s own personality.
Now, I feel at home in Switzerland as much as France or America.
I know all three countries and all three have a place in my heart.
It all goes back to the simple fact that…
People are people the world over.