Expat Voices: James Powell on living in Zurich

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Switzerland is a good place to be yourself, says British expat James Powell. Just be careful when driving.

Name: James Powell
Nationality: British
City of residence: Zürich
Date of birth: 3 April 1979
Civil status: In a relationship
Occupation: Counsellor, writer
Reason for moving to Switzerland: To enjoy the fantastic quality of life here.
Lived in Switzerland for: Six months

What was your first impression of Switzerland?

Before I came, many people told me how boring Switzerland and its people are! My experience from the outset has been very different – there are always bountiful opportunities here for adventure and to meet interesting people.

What do you think of the food?
The thing that most impressed me is the quality of ingredients and produce is very high; I have sampled some interesting dishes made from them too!

What do you think of the shopping in Switzerland?

I admire the attention to detail and quality of Swiss-made, precision goods; I am, however, ambivalent about international brands/products available here because they are substantially more expensive than the same item would cost if bought in Germany, UK etc.

What do you appreciate about living in Switzerland?

More than anything the opportunity to be oneself, and the possibility to enjoy the fullness of living.
What do you find most frustrating about living in Switzerland?
The pace of life here is not as dynamic as it might be; so while one can enjoy the fullness of life here if they are proactive, it is not like some places in the world where simply being in them brings you to life (such as New York City!).

What puzzles you about Switzerland and what do you miss since you’ve moved here?
It bemuses me that, in such a civilised country, people generally drive like maniacs! I miss the familiarity and the humour that often arises when people get together in Britain.

How does the quality of life in Switzerland compare to the quality of life in other countries that you’ve lived in?
In terms of how society functions, and public services, Switzerland is second to none.

If you could change anything about Switzerland, what would it be?
For people to become more open. Because of its history and terrain, Switzerland is, understandably, a place where social horizons and emotional openness are somewhat limited.

What advice would you give to a newcomer?
Be open, be curious, and take the opportunities that come with that.

Expat Voices
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