■ 23:12 (UTC±01:00 +DST), 06 JUN 2016 | CHE ZÜRICH-SCHWAMENDINGEN
■ ITEM PART OF 8152BLOG.CH SUB-BLOG
You’re seeing on the left-hand side a black-and-white copy of the first part of my Swiss visa on my old, and now expired, Chinese passport. That was what I used to come to the Alpine republic. When I left for Beijing in 2000, I left Zürich Airport with the classic red booklet — the Swiss passport. The Swiss cross of worldwide fame was no longer restricted to a classical Wappe; it had taken over the entire cover of the passport (however, they redid this in 2003, so to make it look like what it is now).
Switzerland has given me so much for my past 12 years there. The country still continues to be part of what I do, day in, day out. Not sold? Here’s what it gave me:
1. 5 languages.
Better English, plus German, French, Italian, and Latin. Top that up now with a willingness to learn Rumantsch. Oh and also some more knowledge that I got after 2000 in China: Japanese, Korean, and more… The multilingual seeds were Swiss-sown.
2. A stage, a microphone, and an audience.
My public events had very Swiss roots from my experience I got in schools in the country. I did my graduation speech in 2000 onstage, to put the finishing touches to 12 fantastic years there.
3. The Internet — and this site.
My first HTML code I would code for my first-ever Internet presence — however small a part of the school’s site it might have been back then — had Swiss roots, thanks to schooling there.
4. Extensive travel experience.
I visited almost all of Western Europe, plus a bit of the Mediterranean, during my years where I lived in Zürich. Even before I became Swiss, I used up nearly all the pages on my old passport.
5. An appreciation for diversity and tolerance.
Tolerance, diversity, democracy, multiculturality, and cosmopolitanism, are very much Swiss values I picked up from my Swiss years.
6. My column-writing.
I had a go at writing columns posted on public bulletin boards during the time I was schooled in Switzerland. It still remains part of me.
7. Touch-typing and technology.
I completed touch-typing courses in 1990 and was set loose on a Mac in 1991. All in schools in Switzerland.
8. My train shtick.
I was a two-time bearer of the Swiss GA, or nationwide annual travel pass. This was a very big reason why I decided to abandon Life in 5th Gear for Life on the Rails.
9. My driving licence.
OK, so I didn’t completely abandon Life in 5th Gear, but I still had my first licence issued to me in Switzerland (then upgraded it in China, but the most crucial training was done around Zürich).
10. An addiction to quality and precision.
Präzision, Fischer! The rather ratty Bodmer, of Schweizermacher (film) fame, was your typical Swiss bureaucrat addicted to details. This holds for me as well.
11. Reducing, reusing, recycling things.
You must pay for your litter in Switzerland (not a la Council Tax, but in the form of paying for the litter sacks you use). This means you’re under the incentive to reduce and recycle where possible. This includes flattening cartons and bottles — to keep waste to an absolute minimum!
12. One of the world’s best passports.
Not only does a Swiss passport let you travel the better half of the planet without a visa, you also get to vote on many issues across the nation — even national (federal) ones even if you’re settled overseas! The people at Switzerland’s largest gateway airport, Zürich Airport, continuously raise the bar — in terms of efficiency, security, and cleanliness. And we also benefit from one of the most professional, dedicated, and caring network of world-class consulates and embassies the world over. As an Auslandschweizer or Swiss domiciled abroad, I feel this professionalism and care whenever I ask for help.
There is a huge amount of affection for the country I have come to love, and that has given me my passport. But most of all, I am grateful for everything I have learnt in the past whilst living there, and the many things I continue to learn from everything Swiss. My Switzerland remains a highly active, innovative, and well-performing country.
I’ve decided to start giving back to my country, in ways I’ve never done before. The Swiss stories I share on this domain blog will continue. At the same time, I’m joining Newly Swissed, a community which I’d like to describe as “simply bursting with everything Swiss”, in English. And this is only the start of many of my Swiss commitments, to be continued in future! There’s a lot of active Swissness in the world out there. Maybe my Switzerland can inspire you to do your Next Big Thing! ■ ■ ■