My Swiss Life (post 3)

February 24th, 2012

Today was Kinderfasnacht in Bern (Carnival for children; tomorrow is Carnival for the grown-ups); I took the boys for the children’s parade, and in a crowd estimated at nearly five thousand we ran into people we know twice and saw several more families with whom we’re on nodding terms. It happens more and more – I see people I know when the boys and I go skating in our free time, I run into people in the city or in the near-by shopping center.

It never ceases to amaze me how long it has taken me to feel like I have a life here; a Swiss life; a life of my own. I thought it last night when I was on the ice for the hockey school, in charge of the pick-up hockey end of the rink for the first time. (All the little ones can skate now, and I got a chance to see some of the older kids in action.) I love being on the ice at hockey school – all my hand-wringing seems so ridiculous to me now – and I am comfortable in the role of Trainerin and I genuinely enjoy my fellow trainers. After the Saturday hockey school – which runs right over lunchtime – we all go to the restaurant after the practice and eat something and have some beer (there’s more beer associated with hockey school than I expected; it’s fun) and it’s nice.

Some of it is the boys – people kept telling me that as the Small Boy got older he would be the wedge opening the door to Swiss life and certainly I’ve seen the truth in that. A lot of it is the hockey, and I think the reason the hockey is working so well for me is that, yes, it’s an activity that I’m involved in because of the boys but I got the boys involved in hockey because it was an activity that had been, for a long time, a big part of my life. So I don’t feel as though I’m being dragged hither and yon by my kids’ interests but that I’m being reintroduced to something I had forgotten that I missed.

And a lot of it is the job, and although the job is hockey related I suspect it would be much the same with any job, because here is something I have learned: friends are important, friends are essential, but I have come to the conclusion that colleagues are just as important. Having work colleagues I see twice a week has added to my life enormously in ways I would never have guessed. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve had work colleagues, and I didn’t even realize I was missing it until I started working at the hockey school and suddenly there it was: “Oh. Wait. So this is what it’s like to ┬áreally feel like I fit in here.” Before, I’d always figured I was integrated, and I was in all the surface ways, but this feels different. This is past integrated, this is enmeshed. This is having Swiss-speaking friends who did not come through my husband. This is being expected to show up at places, and being missed when I don’t.

It took so little – yet so much – and I feel like life here has finally settled into place. It amazes me how long it took. It amazes me more that it is only in retrospect that I see that I was never really settled in the first place. That this, with these small changes, feels like a different life. A real life. My real Swiss life. Finally.

(Previous Swiss life posts can be found here and here)


One Response to “My Swiss Life (post 3)”

  1. Trish on March 22, 2012 11:40 am

    You write so, so well about living in a new place, setting up a new life. If I ever get out of this town I will read back on your journey and be reminded that it is possible to ‘find yourself’ and be happy and content wherever you are, provided you are willing to make the effort.

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