I’m Mercedes and I live in Zurich, Switzerland. I am originally from Madrid, Spain, but I have lived also a few years in Sweden and Ireland before moving to Switzerland a few months ago.
1. Why did you move abroad?
Love! My husband found a job in Sweden a few years ago and I saw it as a great opportunity for me to improve my English and continue my studies in Law.
2. How do you make a living?
My husband is the one bringing money home right now. I left my job in Spain as a lawyer and I studied a Master degree in Stockholm. After that, we moved to Ireland and it was very difficult for me to find a job there (Irish and Spanish legal systems are very different!!). Now in Switzerland I’ll have to learn German before trying to find a job in my field.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
I think these days I talk with my family even more than when I was living in Spain!! With Whatsapp, Hangouts, Facetime… I can talk with my siblings and my parents or my friends at any moment of the day and I don’t feel very far from them. Of course, it’s not the same as being there, but technology helps a lot!
4. What’s your favorite thing about being an expat in Zurich?
It sounds a bit typical, but I’d say my favourite part of living abroad is the chance to meet a new country and its people, its culture, its history, its traditions... The constant feeling of being exploring a new place. It also makes me see my own country with different eyes and I discover new things everytime I travel home.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Zurich?
I think the worst part is not being able to communicate with the locals. Not knowing the local language is very frustrating! It’s the first time it has happened to me (in Sweden and Ireland I didn’t have this problem).
6. What do you miss most?
My family and friends, of course. Internet helps but it’s not the same as being at home with them. Also the friends I made in Ireland and Sweden.
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
It’s been just a few months since I moved to Zurich, so I haven’t met many Swiss people yet. When I was living in Sweden I met a lot of people while studying the Master degree at the University. And in Ireland I met very good friends through my main hobby, photography! Now in Zurich, German courses are a nice place to meet expats like me.
8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
Swiss people can be very quiet. There is an unwritten rule about not making any noise after 10pm or on Sundays! So no having dinners with friends at home and things like that… But I think I’ll get used to it.
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
I haven’t found any myth about Swiss that it’s not true yet… They are very formal, punctual… They love chocolate, cheese and the mountains… Maybe you can ask me again in a year or so and I’ll have an answer!
10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
Switzerland is an expensive country, more expensive than Ireland (or Spain) for sure. But salaries are also higher, so it’s relative. Probably the biggest different is in the food prices. Food is in general expensive, specially meat and fresh fruit and vegetables. We try to eat greener and healthier here. And health insurance is also expensive, they don’t have Social Security here. But in general I’d say for us Switzerland is not that expensive as we thought it would be.
11. What advice would you give other expats?
It’s not easy, sometimes it’s frustrating or hard… but being an expat it’s also a great adventure with a lot of rewarding moments. And learn the local language, I think now this is the most essential thing when moving abroad as you need it for everything: from the very little daily things to find a job or starting to meet local people.
12. When and why did you start your blog?
I started my blog two years ago, a few month after I got my camera. I always loved photography and I started to learn and to take a lot of photos. A lot! And I thought it would be a great idea to show them. Photography made me discover a very beautiful side of Ireland when I was living there and I wanted to share my vision of that country… And then I started to travel more frequently to other countries and I moved to Switzerland…
My blog is now one of my favourite hobbies and a way to share my vision of the places where I live or travel and I’ve met a lot of interesting people through it!
Mercedes's Blog, Mercedes Catalan
Find out more about being an expat in Switzerland with Easy Expat's
To be considered for an interview (as well as other articles), add your blog to BlogExpat!