‘The Swiss Happy List’

A week from now, I’m scheduled to leave for Ukraine to do some volunteer work with Canadian and American teacher-missionaries. If plans don’t miscarry, I will teach English to pre-intermediate and intermediate adult students in a place where teaching resources are scarce, if not non-existent. I should therefore start preparing my lessons now before distractions — major and mundane — crowd my schedule this week. As it is, I’m already pressed for time.

But before I go on a two-month hiatus from blogging, I would like to share with you my personal “Happy List” (featuring my 101 simple joys as an Asian resident of Switzerland), upon the suggestion of someone I know, who knows my constant struggles with culture shock, language barrier, and homesickness as a relatively new resident.

So, here goes my list of “101 Things to be Happy About While in Switzerland” written in no particular order:

1. Clean air (the perfect gift for asthmatics)
2. Lindor chocolate balls (I let them melt in your mouth)
3. Sunday School volunteer work
4. Super fast Internet connection (via cable)
5. Unlimited train travel with my SBB General Abonnement
6. Calida pajamas made of cotton
7. November in Switzerland
8. Victorinox Swiss Army pocket knives
9. Global Zone Carrier Code 10840 (makes overseas calls to RP cheaper than usual)
10. Pet owners picking up their dogs’ pooh using those doggie plastic bags found in designated trash bins (but I wouldn’t like to do this myself, ugh)
11. Shopping at Carrefour
12. Surprise letters and packages from the Philippines and the USA
13. SF1 weather forecasts
14. Antiques fairs
15. “Aktion” signs in shops (it means products are on sale)
16. Bibliothek membership (I can borrow books and films for a year!)
17. Christmas markets
18. Caotina choco powder mixed with fresh milk
19. Seeing cute babies on ‘three-wheelers’ (baby trolleys)
20 Autumn leaves
21. Snow
22. The expatriate-friendly Swiss News paper
23. My friendly Turkish classmates in German class
24. Home-made Christmas cookies in decorative tin cans
25. Swiss lakes and ships
26. Talented buskers
27. Swiss music boxes (love them!)
28. Supermarket chain COOP’s sticker collection promos (allowing you to buy selected Tupperware products or cooking pans at reduced prices)
29. Staeheli Bookshop in Zurich
30. Swiss precision
31. My Schmidt-Flohr piano bought from a Christian businessman who supports Israel
32. Roger Federer
33. Summer sale
34. Cuckoo clocks
35. Personalized “Thank You” cards (usually with original photos on card covers)
36. My Mondaine Women’s Round Evo wristwatch (with eye-catching red leather strap)
37. Dr. Oetker’s easy-to-bake brownie mix
38. UBS online banking system
39. Extended shopping hours on Thursday nights
40. Non-allergenic duvets (oh, how expensive but worth it!)
41. COOP resto
42. Cell group in Zurich church
43. My highly competent Swiss dentist who speaks great English
44. TEX-AID charity bags
45. Self-service, push-button scales/pricing machines in supermarkets
46. Freshly baked bread
47. Cable cars
48. Whole roasted chicken to go at Migros‘ take-away counter
49. Recycling
50. Postal stamp dispensers and mailboxes
51. Systematic garbage disposal system
52. Hydro-powered vehicles and Smart cars
53. Those Bernie dogs
54. Discounted movie tickets on Mondays
55. Wooden bridges
56. Asian markets (yes, they exist in Switzerland!)
57. Basel Carnival (Fasnacht)
58. The water fountain in Geneva
59. Going on a fun pedal boatride in Geneva
60. Chocolate Easter rabbits on supermarket shelves
61. Open-air cinema in Nidau in summer (with sub-titles in German and French)
62. Smiling strangers who greet you “Gruezi” on the streets
63. Pedestrian crossings (all vehicles stop to let you pass)
64. Wooden coin boxes from brocante fairs
65. Summer street exhibitions (e.g. Teddy Summer 2005″ in Zurich)
66. Feeding hungry swans
67. Distinct taste of Rivella
68. The unique Swiss flag (they say that the Swiss are just as ‘square’) 🙂
69. Swiss chalets
70. Non-smoking signs on SBB trains
71. Chinese food take-aways
72. Foreign language courses
73. Switzerland’s electronic phone directory
74. Interlaken, Interlaken, Interlaken (call me biased)
75. Multi-lingual environment
76. Shopping arcades in Bern
77. Art graffitis on walls
78. ‘Human statues’ and their stationary performance art
79. Swiss In-line Cup
80. Old buildings still functional (as offices or residential places)
81. Summer course in French language and literature at the University of Neuchatel
82. Free gift-wrapping services or materials in small shops and department stores
83. National holidays (Good Friday, Easter Monday, and Pentecost)
84. Great fireworks display on August 1 (the Swiss National Day)
85. Real Christmas trees adorning living rooms during the Yuletide season
86. Billing system (e.g. you pay the doctor or the dentist only after you receive the bill)
87. Good healthcare system
88. SBB’s reliable luggage transport service (you can have your heavy baggage sent in advance to the airport by train)
89. Panoramic view of the Swiss Alps
90. Freedom to wear what you like, without being judged as a “fashion mishap”
91. Betty Bossi instant meals (you are three to five minutes’ away from a sumptuous meal by microwave)
92. “Happy hens” walking freely in farms, and not locked up in cages
93. Three Kings’ special cakes with a plastic king hidden in the bread, and a paper crown prize for the child (me) who finds the king
94.  The Swiss work ethic
95. Drinkable water from the faucet
96. Cleanliness and semblance of order almost everywhere
97. Free education in Swiss state schools
98. Opportunity to feed hungry swans swimming in picturesque Swiss lakes
99. Pre-seasoned meat for grill parties
100. Quaint old cities/towns with cobble-stoned pavements
101. Sledding fun in winter

I’m sure there’s more I can add to the list as I go along. But let this 101 list suffice for now.

Appreciating the little things in life is an advisable habit, especially if you’re a Filipino expatriate who left your comfort zone to start an unknown life in a landlocked country found in the heart of Europe. It’s one of the sure-fire formulas to combat ‘socio-cultural burnout.’