After twenty-two years in this country, I still entertain a love-hate relationship with my adopted land.
Nor is it about my homeland. Dear Canada. My fondness for mon pays d’origine grows with each passing year. But if I loved it so much, why did I leave it? It’s like an old boyfriend, one who holds a special place in my heart but is still relegated to the status of ex.
My favorite country is Switzerland. Here’s why:
- A great brand
I’m a sucker for smart marketing and the Swiss have got a fabulous brand. That graphic white-on-red cross says everything about them: clean, safe, financially sound. The founding land of the Red Cross and home to all the major international organizations. Beyond the flag, the Swiss Confederation manages to unite the culturally and linguistically diverse citizens of all 26 cantons (provinces) with shared values and a true sense of national pride.
- Truly international
Switzerland is a country with four official languages and shared borders with France, Italy, Germany, Liechtenstein and Austria. Expats abound. Geneva and Zurich are truly international cities.
- Swiss trains
A marvel of efficiency, the Swiss trains are almost always on time and never on strike. You can travel almost anywhere in Switzerland by train and connecting public transit networks while admiring the spectacular scenery.
- The hills are alive…
As a child, Julie Andrews captured my imagination and put a song in my heart with the Sound of Music. When Maria escaped with the children across the Alps to Switzerland, I knew this was the place for me.
From the toilets to the streets. People use the garbage bins, recycle and pick up after their pets.
- They speak my language
French, of course. But also English, Switzerland’s unofficial 5th language, which is spoken pretty well everywhere. And whatever language you speak, there is a degree of tolerance for mistakes given that so many people are non-native speakers.
- Health and wealth
The Swiss have a healthy attitude towards money. Okay, so it’s a country of bankers and they’re rather attached to their Swiss Francs. But I like the fact there’s no shame about wealth in Switzerland. And even the working class makes a decent living. All of which adds up to make Switzerland one of the most expensive countries in the world. (One of the reasons why I live across the border in France.) And non-coincidentally, the Swiss have the world’s second longest life expectancy.
- Armed neutrality, not war
The Swiss have a history of not taking sides. It also means that they work hard to find consensus, holding referendums on every major issue. That’s something I can believe in.
- Small but independent
Switzerland is a small country crisscrossed by mountain ranges. Surrounded by bigger, more powerful countries, they have kept their independence and identity. They are part of Europe but not a member of the EU.
- August 1st
And finally: we share the same birthday. I knew there was another reason I liked working in Switzerland. Any country that gives me the day off on my birthday gets my vote.
Happy Swiss National Day! Happy birthday to me.
Et vous? What’s your favorite country? Adopted or home?