We are excited to welcome Sunrita Dutta to our Expat Life Interview Series. From India to the United Kingdom to Switzerland, let’s read her expat experience.
Q: Where are you originally from?
A: Originally from India but have been living in the UK for 13 years before moving to Switzerland.
Q: In which city and country are you living now? Did you move there alone or with a spouse/family?
A: Currently living in Switzerland. We moved with our family.
Q: How long have you lived there and how long are you planning to stay?
A: Living here for past 4 years, and would like to stay here as long as possible.
Q: Why did you move and what do you do?
A: We moved due to my husband’s job. I was an HR professional, and now run my little business as an Indian food Coach & Spice blogger.
Cycling in Austria
Q: Moving from India to Switzerland, what was your first impression?
A: There is a fierce difference with living standards when compared to living in a developing country to that of a developed country.
Q: What do you enjoy most about Switzerland? What were some of your favorite experiences in Switzerland?
A: Switzerland is a very safe country, with great outdoor life where children can run around freely and enjoy their childhood without the fear of overcrowded cities and traffic. We love to go hiking, swimming in open lakes and cycling.
Q: What do you miss most about home?
A: Family, close friends, and food.
Q: What has been the greatest aspect of your expat experience so far? What are the adjustments you had to make when settling into expat life there?
A: I find the emotional and social aspects of living abroad most challenging. I feel that it’s important to integrate with the locals for a smooth transition of day to day life. However, this may not always be possible as it depends on our personal and others’ social acceptance. It’s a mutual effort. The language has been and still is a bit of a struggle. But it’s important to do so to feel at home wherever we live.
Q: How would you rate the quality of life compared to your home country, in terms of cost of living, public transportation and healthcare system?
A: Excellent. Can’t fault anything. The Swiss transport system is one of the best in the world. However, the cost of living in Switzerland is also very high.
Q: What are the best things to do or places to visit in Switzerland?
A: Hiking in the mountains, Swimming in the lakes or rivers, BBQing in forest, parks or by the lakes, Cycling, Skiing, and the ability to simply drive into any European country from Basel.
Meeting people and making friends
Q: Tell us about your typical day as an expat in Switzerland.
A: Day begins with dropping kids off at school and nursery, going for a run or yoga (when not feeling too lazy), working on my blog/business/cooking class. Picking children up, cooking and evening family time.
Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends? Have you made friends with locals or do you mix mainly with other expats? Did you feel you fitted in culturally?
A: Ooh yes! I find the people very warm and welcoming, and my kids have made local grandparents too :-)! The language possesses an issue with making local friends, but if you try they are accepting. The majority of friends are of course expats. As we are all in the same boat, we support each other. Partly fitted into the culture, but it’s difficult due to language constraints.
Q: Did you have a problem getting a visa or work permit? Did you tackle the visa process yourself or go through an agency?
A: My husband’s company dealt with all work permit details. It was rather smooth and very quick.
Q: How does the work culture differ from home?
A: I am afraid I am not best placed to answer this as I work for myself. However, since my husband works for an International organization, it’s nothing different than other companies.
Q: What are your tips or advice for anyone looking to live and work in Switzerland?
A: 1. Be open-minded and accepting of what comes your way. Settling in a new country is a two-way process. You give, you get!
2. Try to learn the language as much as you can. It helps ease your day to day life and makes the locals feel good that you are trying.
3. If you are a trailing spouse like me, finding a job may not be easy. So start applying ASAP or find a way to keep yourself busy.
4. Be positive – see this as a holiday for a chance to explore other European cities. Negativity only deters you from trying and being happy where you are.
Thank you, Sunrita, for taking the time to be part of our Expat Life Interview Series! Sunrita likes to call herself a lazy cook with an easy style of turning bland food into bold flavors! She is an Indian Cooking coach and spice blogger taking cooking classes in Switzerland for 4 years. She hopes to inspire home cooks to overcome the worry of monotonous cooking and effortlessly bring in new flavors to everyday meals by simplifying the use of spices and make cooking fun again. Follow her website at www.spiceitupp.com, and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
*All photos are the sole property of the author. They were provided and used with permission for this interview only. Any unauthorized use of these photos is prohibited.
The Expat Life Interview Series was created to know more about the country, not just from a traveler's perspective. We hope to help others who are thinking of working abroad to know how it is to live and work with the locals. If you are living and working abroad even for only a few months or several years and would like to be featured on Wellington World Travels, please Contact Us so we can send you the questions and you can share your expat life experience.
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