Whenever I visit the US (where I am from), friends and family always want to know how much longer I am going to be living in Switzerland.
The original answer was three years. But now, almost six years later, there is no answer.
My fellow Americans don’t understand how I can have no answer to this question. But when I ask them how long are they are going to live in the Chicago suburbs, they don’t know either.
So finally, we move on to another question: what is the best and worst part about living in Switzerland?
I could say the best part is the cheese or the chocolate. Or having no clue when it is Superbowl Sunday. Or being able to hike in the Alps on a whim.
I could say the worst part is the expensive restaurants. Or the lack of smiles. Or the endless fog.
But actually, the best and worst part of living in Switzerland is being a foreigner.
Being a foreigner is bad for obvious reasons: it gets annoying always being labelled as different.
It gets annoying to have everyone stare when I request High German instead of Swiss German in meetings. And it gets annoying to have to renew my B-permit every year.
But being a foreigner is also the best part about living in Switzerland. When you are a foreigner, you are special.
Being a native speaker of English qualifies you for work in ways it never would at home. And many people - back home and in Switzerland - find you interesting because you have something they don’t: guts to move 5,000 miles from home.
It’s because of this duality that makes it hard to know where I’ll be living five years from now.
Because there are some days, like when I have to run around Baden and pay SFr30 ($32.70) for a piece of paper that states I have no debts so maybe I’ll be considered for that elusive C-permit at some point in my Swiss life, that bring out the bad side of being a foreigner.
And there are other days, like when my Swiss neighbour invites my entire family over for fondue and we laugh in three languages trying to understand each other, when being a foreigner is the best thing in the world.
What do you think is the best and worst part about living in Switzerland?