Who are you?
I am an Indian expat in Europe, currently living in Switzerland. I work in research and am also a blogger/freelance writer, apart from being a coffee lover,dreamer,traveller and reader.
Where, when and why did you move abroad?
I moved to Germany in 2011 to pursue my Master studies, and then came to Switzerland for my thesis work. After that, I decided to stay back and work in Switzerland.What challenges did you face during the move?
I think, not knowing German well was a challenge for sure. Not everyone speaks English,and sometimes, I have felt quite helpless.
How did you find somewhere to live?
As I was a student, I applied for a room in several student residences. I had started applying several months in advance, but most places were already full. I was also open to living in a shared flat, but it proved to be quite difficult, especially as scams are not uncommon online. Some people suggested booking a student residence, if available, and then looking for an apartment after I was here. From what I have seen so far in Switzerland, in order to rent a flat, you would typically be required to furnish two references and copies of official documents.
Are there many other expats in your area?
Yes, as Basel is a hub for the pharmaceutical industry, there are many expats living and working here.
What is your relationship like with the locals?
I like the people here and feel quite comfortable. Perhaps, this was because I lived with other students, but I have found people to be generally supportive and helpful.
What do you like about life where you are?
In the past few years, I have started appreciating smaller places and peaceful lifestyles. Currently, I like the fact that everything is highly accessible from where I live, and the public transport is very good. Also, it is possible to reach the German and French borders in 10-15 minutes each(by public transport or car). So, it is very convenient for people to go shopping in either of the countries in the weekends. Besides, there is a German railway station in the city, from where it is very easy to get German train connections and railway offers.
What do you think of the food in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?
Frankly, I like Indian food much more than European cuisine, and feel that meat lovers have way more options to try out, while here. Both, in Germany and Switzerland, the specialities consist of meat,cheese or potatoes. I do love trying out my hand at new dishes and desserts, and often ask for recipes or tips if I see someone cooking a different vegetarian dish. I have learnt quite a few things here, and appreciate the fact that a lot of people in Switzerland prefer cooking themselves and making freshly prepared food, instead of depending mostly on frozen or pre-prepared food items. I enjoy having Fondue with friends, baking cookies together(especially around Christmas), trying out making different cakes/desserts as well as dishes from different cuisines.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
I would just ask people to not let go of any relevant opportunity and keep trying harder to get what they want. Looking for a job in a foreign country may be challenging, but it is certainly not impossible(ofcourse depends on where you want to go and the type of work you are looking for). I also strongly recommend people to take time and decide upon what passions/career they would really like to pursue, and not just compromise with life decisions. Last but not the least, enjoy your stay in Europe, have an open mind, avoid stereotyping cultures, travel as much as you can and mix with the locals.
What are your plans for the future?
I would like to stay in Europe for some more time, travel around, and also devote more time to my freelancing and blogging.
You are most welcome to stop by my travel blog and say Hi! It can be found at www.europediaries.com. I am also on Twitter as @EuropeDiaries and @MenorcaC.