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Life in Switzerland

(26 Posts)
NaturalBaby Fri 21-Feb-14 20:25:46

I've finally arrived in Switzerland with my family so am now trying to figure out stuff!
Can anyone recommend which milk to buy and from where? We have 3 young kids so go through quite a bit. They refused their breakfast because it was made with UHT milk!
Any tips on bus travel? We have a car but will be using the bus as much as possible to get into town. I'm not sure which ticket we need for a return or whether to just buy singles, or get a monthly pass.

heather1 Fri 21-Feb-14 20:39:37

Hi, I've seen your previous threads, glad you are arrived safely!
Milk I buy fresh organic from migros or coop-it's the bio milk which is organic. The organic choices are full fat or semi skimmed. Vollmilch is full fat. The fridge should have a range if fresh brands to choose from. In Zurich Tetra Pak can't be recycled but the plastic containers can be in store or just outside.
Bus. Kids under 6 are free. Over 6 get a junior card ( from manned stations) 30chf and all their travel on all public transport is free. Until you have this the kids cost the half price fare. For you if you will be using public transport it's worth buying a halbtax. This is a card that give you the right to pay half price on all your journeys on train, bus, tram and ship. You should be able to pay less for your monthly pass if you get that.
The staff at the manned stations are usually really helpful and speak good English too. The website is pretty good.

NaturalBaby Sat 22-Feb-14 19:47:32

Thank you! We're still trying to figure out what to buy and then cook. I'm really wishing we had a Swiss au pair of somebody to help us settle in and keep the dc's busy. It's been a tough week but school and DH's new job start this week so hopefully we'll settle down soon.

WallyBantersJunkBox Sun 23-Feb-14 11:31:48

Glad to hear you made it safely.

It is a bit daunting at first.

At least when the kids are in school you will have the mornings to get organized, and get your head round things. You just have to take it slowly, cover the basics and be kind to yourself!

Although it's half term here the week after next, don't know about your area? It's the Fasnacht holiday. So if you are off it's a great opportunity to witness the carnivals either locally, or the biggest one in Switzerland which is here in Basel.

WallyBantersJunkBox Sun 23-Feb-14 11:36:19

Funny you said about cooking - when I moved my mind went blank. Even though I used to cook from scratch at home, I completely forgot in the space of a few weeks what we used to eat!

I think we lived on schnitzel and mashed potato for a while. grin

To be honest that's why I shop over the border, there is so much more choice in German supermarkets like Kaufland and Marktkauf.

And then I can afford meat!

NaturalBaby Sun 23-Feb-14 12:35:29

We're planning on getting over to a German supermarket before DH starts work next week.
We're looking forward to Fasnacht - there were a few trucks driving round town yesterday so the kids can't wait to see those again. Half term is this week so Ds starts school tomorrow - I'll still have 2 at home though!

beresh Sun 23-Feb-14 13:37:01

Glad to hear you made it out here! Good luck for your ds starting school tomorrow. Don't forget to give him a morning snack - Znuni - to take with him for Pause, my DD didn't have one on her first day and was not best pleased with me! I hope you get up to the mountains whilst there's still so much great snow!

NaturalBaby Tue 25-Feb-14 20:17:57

I had my first experience of feeling slightly unwelcome - the cashier in the bakery would only speak Swiss to me. My German isn't great but I tried my best, did a bit of pointing and smiling but she was clearly very unimpressed. I'm really missing the British bakery section now!

WallyBantersJunkBox Wed 26-Feb-14 02:06:52

There has just been a major vote to cap mass immigration in Switzerland. It was a terribly slight majority, but it got through. So there is a feeling in some places that there are too many "auslanders" who don't blend into Swiss society. Over 33% of the population are foreign which doesn't sit comfortably with many. But many forget that the wealth of this country wouldn't exist without foreign companies and foreign investment.

A bit harsh to be judged on your first trip to the bakery though!

The great thing about a capitalist economy is that you can take your bread money elsewhere.

Could be worse - you could be German. They really hate the Germans...shock

heather1 Wed 26-Feb-14 11:45:20

Also the Swiss Germans can be lovely really polite and charming. But as you have seen sometimes ppl can be very unfriendly. Smiling and being apologetic does not always cut any ice.
I have found being polite but serious has the best effect. Also 'es tut Mir leid mein Deutch ist nich so gute ' 'I'm sorry my German isn't very good' is also a helpful phrase.
Try not to take it personally would be my advice.

WallyBantersJunkBox Wed 26-Feb-14 13:27:48

...and there are narrow minded idiots everywhere....!

NaturalBaby Wed 26-Feb-14 21:17:31

Oh yes, I've had much worse in England. I've been pleasantly surprised with how friendly everyone is.

Can anyone advise about home help? I'm wondering about getting a German speaking au pair or nanny part time to help us settle in.

WallyBantersJunkBox Fri 28-Feb-14 11:26:05

There are specific laws on au pairs, I think they have to come to learn the language, so it wouldn't be a huge help to you as they would struggle too.

Home help might be easier if you are looking for day to day assistance. I'm not sure of rates, but they'd be Swiss rates of course. (a Red Cross registered teenage babysitter charges 15chf per hour on average). You could ask on the EnglishforumSwitzerland website. (I found a cleaner there and had a lot of applicants.) You do see home helps posting regularly on there.

Have you thought of younger childcare as a possibility? My colleague puts his pre-KG kids into nursery care for a few days each week to give his wife a break. One is at a forest nursery which they enjoy immensely.

Your Gemeinde might be able to help you too, if you've registered now?

NaturalBaby Fri 28-Feb-14 16:06:01

I've been reading up on au pairs and not sure they're exactly what we need. I had a relative come over for a couple of hours twice a week to entertain the kids so that's what I was thinking, but 2 of them were in full time school.
We're building up to Spielgruppe but my 3yr old is going to struggle. We have 3 1/2 days at different places on offer but it's a lot for him to get used to. They're off to forest school next week so I can't wait to hear how that goes!
We're registered now so I was thinking of going back to the Gemeinde for a chat.
We're all so tired. My 3yr old has had a meltdown every time we've had to go somewhere today sad.

LIZS Fri 28-Feb-14 16:14:19

You do have to be really careful regarding the rules for an ap or other domestic help , even a cleaner. You may be better employing a babysitter, who will have done a Red Cross certificate. iirc the Gemeinde have a list or try the local mutterberatung (health visitor). Alternatively you could advertise through the international schools in case someone has an ap who is available during the day, an older child/student or a ta working part-time.

WallyBantersJunkBox Fri 28-Feb-14 17:06:13

thanks it will get better...

We tried and tried to prepare DS. He was 5. Goodbye cards to his friends at school, he helped choose the new house and his bedroom etc.

After two days he said ok this is fun but when are we going home? He didn't take the news well that it was home!

Now of course he won't think of living anywhere else, even down the road in the village...

You have to register with the Red Cross, but it's a simple process. They have day, evening and night help.

if I remember you are in Baden?

The NCT are here in Basel. Not sure if there is something your way.

NanoNinja Fri 28-Feb-14 21:19:52

I'm in Swiss romande, so a very different vibe, and can't be much help on the practicalities. But au pairs. - they are meant to be here to learn the language, so getting a German speaking au pair on the German speaking side is probably difficult.
I've been here for four years, and I still struggle at times, but it is so much easier than when I arrived. Miss waitrose though!
Bonne chance or viel spass!

NaturalBaby Sat 01-Mar-14 07:37:08

I think I'm just trying to figure out what other expats do and what help they get. I've been a sahm since ds1 arrived so am used to doing everything by myself, but am also used to regular toddler groups and chatting at the school gates for up to an hour every day!

We've got a few visits home lined up, and I'll be baking scones this weekend to have with our English jam grin.

LIZS Sat 01-Mar-14 10:02:40

If you are going down the Swiss school route there will be no school gate conversations. Would IS for just for preschool be an option , to give your ds some familiarity and routine before entering kindergarten? There are groups like Kindermusik around, in English.

NaturalBaby Sun 02-Mar-14 21:20:22

IS is not an option now, ds1 is in the local school so everything else has to fit around that.

How do you manage learning the vocab? e.g If I'm out and about and don't know the word for something, I don't really want to carry a dictionary around! (but think I should do really). I need to find something to do with locals on a social level to build my german language.

WallyBantersJunkBox Sun 02-Mar-14 21:42:04

Although carrying a dictionary or translator would be helpful to point at things the best thing would be to start some German lessons. Pronunciation is the most difficult thing to start with really.

You could attend a school (Academia in Olten for example, or Migrosclubschule), or have a look online for a 121 teacher to come round.

Normal recommendation is Hoch Deutsch first (as everyone is taught this in school and it will help with your written communication) then to pick up the Swiss dialect later.

WallyBantersJunkBox Sun 02-Mar-14 22:03:50

Oh and if you have an iPad or equivalent you can download the Duolingo app to get going....grin

heather1 Mon 03-Mar-14 11:16:54

Dorling Kindersley does a really good English/German picture dictionary. Wait for 6 months and the children will be translating for you!

NaturalBaby Mon 03-Mar-14 20:12:11

The picture dictionary is on my wishlist, duolingo looks good.
I managed a couple of German conversations today but it's hard to find opportunities to do that every day. We're not a very extrovert, chatty family at the best of times so it's hard to go out and talk to random strangers!
I'm going to join the local gym and sign up for language exchanges sessions so hopefully that should be a good start.

NaturalBaby Mon 17-Mar-14 09:01:07

Can I ask about getting started with the health care system? Do we just walk into the local GP and ask to register? DH has sorted out the insurance and I would like to see a consultant about an issue that took too long to sort out in England but have no idea how to do it - go to GP first, pick a consultant off the list and phone them? I'd also like to register the dc's with a paediatrician.

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