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Going “glocal”: How expats adapt to life in Switzerland

by Packimpex on 23 July 2018

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Kirsty Smith, an expat employee at Packimpex Ltd., talks about her move from the UK to Switzerland

Many of Packimpex’s employees, like Kirsty Smith, have international experience which they combine with their local expertise to offer an exceptional relocation experience. Moving from one country to another can be challenging, especially when you consider culture shock and language barriers. Our employees deliver excellent customer service by understanding these challenges, empathising with transferees and providing a service that helps them get settled into their new home in Switzerland.

Kirsty is a Performance Manager for Packimpex Ltd.’s Destination Services at our office in Zug in Switzerland. Prior to this, she lived and worked in France, Australia and the United Kingdom. In September 2017, she and her boyfriend relocated to Zurich when they both found jobs here. “I’m a nomad at heart”, she says.

What is the biggest difference between London and Zurich?

There’s a clear emphasis on a healthy work-life balance in Zurich. I commute to and from work every day on public transportation in a way that is completely stress-free, something that would be unthinkable in London as trains are regularly delayed or cancelled. My boyfriend works in the financial sector, and his work days in London typically went on until late in the evening, something that does not happen here in Switzerland. This is a huge difference between how people approach the work-life balance here.

The degree of safety is also different. In Switzerland, you see children going to school or taking the bus alone at 6 in the morning. This is a safe environment and the crime rate is low. You notice this after only being here a few days.

Another difference between the two countries is the healthcare system; this is privatised in Switzerland and every expat pays monthly costs for this, a clear contrast to the UK state system.

How long did it take for your new house to feel like a home?

I would say this took about six months. Once our furniture got here from London, the new house felt like a home. There’s nothing like your own bed!

For the first time in my life, I ran into a language barrier. I didn’t speak any German when I got here, and the people here speak Swiss German. I also had to get used to a couple of cultural differences, such as the way people greet each other at work. We Brits are usually more reserved; here, colleagues give each other three kisses.

What does quality of life mean to you?

Living and working in Switzerland is permeated by a healthy pace of life. You’re close to the mountains and Lake Zurich, which is ideal for taking a breather on the weekend and recharging your batteries for the next working week. A healthy mind in a healthy body; this was the most important reason for me to move here, and I have not regretted it for a second.