You've been in Switzerland two months now, what are your first impressions?
Switzerland is a dream holiday destination in India. It's in many Indian movies and its scenic beauty is well known. I am enjoying the first-hand experience, but I realise we are not here on vacation. We are settling down for a few years, so it is very different to adjust to the culture, language and lifestyle with a long term perspective.
What are some of the initial challenges you've faced?
I am definitely not used to shops closing so early! It has also been a challenge managing our son's needs. Many crèches do not take children over five years old. With my wife and me working full-time Ishaan requires some after-school care. It was also a challenge for me to find a job without strong German skills. I would also like to meet more like-minded people here in Switzerland.
How are you overcoming these issues?
We've been able to work with Ishaan's school to arrange after-school care. I also enrolled in an intensive language course at Berlitz, and advanced quickly through the course material. I feel more confident now communicating in German in public – although I still have a long way to go!
Is there anything you miss from back home yet?
Haha, oh yes! First, there's the food. We Indians eat a lot of spicy food and in Mumbai we also eat out often. I also miss all the hired help we have back home for cooking, cleaning and washing. You don't do anything on your own in India so this is a big adjustment for us. Between nannies and family we also have more help for our child in India.
How do you tackle homesickness?
The first thing we did was to locate the nearest Indian food shops. There are two or three good ones in Zurich. We now cook much more often at home and I have discovered a new passion for learning to cook my favourite Indian dishes. I am also actively looking for new expat and Indian communities in the Zug area. English Forum has been very useful and the Indian community in Zurich hosts many excellent festivals. Attending these events has helped a lot in overcoming homesickness.
What are you looking forward to next?
I hear winter is pretty hard but I am also looking forward to it. I hope we even enjoy some winter sport! I am also eager to start my new job as a SAP consultant and to have the chance to make new international and local friends here. And it will be exciting to see my son begin to pick up German; it will be his fifth language!