The differences

Life is like a box of chocolates, and you never know what you’re going to get. One year ago, I never thought that one day I would live and study in Bern, Switzerland.

Writing this blog, I recall the memory of the last couple of months and am trying to develop some interesting, shocking things that have become familiar to me. These memories may be forgotten over time, but they also remind me that there are still many aspects I have not yet gotten to discover.

After arriving in Switzerland, the first thing I need to do is go to the supermarket and buy some necessities. When walking around, I noticed that the elderly here were standing in front of shelves full of chocolate and struggled which one to choose for a long time or put pudding into their cart. The thing that shocked me is that the elderly are so fond of sweets. Swiss love dessert. They eat it very often, mainly daily. The last time I was at a barbecue restaurant, I saw a group of people ordering ice cream to eat after they had finished barbecue. Before I came here, I couldn’t really imagine you could enjoy dessert after barbecue! From my point of view, in China, only children and young boys and girls eat chocolate while the adults or seniors prefer to eat Chinese pastries, which are less sweet. Furthermore, in China, you hardly ever see older adults shopping for desserts in supermarkets, nor do you see them buying bread and cakes in bakeries.

Another cultural practice that I find striking is also related to the seniors. The lifestyle between the elderly in China and the elderly in Switzerland is just so different. The Swiss elderly seem to live a more relaxed and casual life; for example, they can wear make-up, dress fashionably, go out, and have fun. In contrast, most of the older people only wear so-called senior clothes in China. They are always busy with their family chores, from helping to look after grandchildren to preparing meals for their kids. That is why you will rarely see older people in bars, pubs, or other places for entertainment; only in markets will you see a relatively large number of them.

Another example I must mention relates to the payment systems. In China, I have long been used to scanning the QR codes to pay the money in supermarkets, shopping malls, even small shops in the street market. All my friends and I don’t really carry wallets outside because there is no use taking them out; all the bank cards and ID cards can be saved as electronic documents on the phone.

And now, in Switzerland, I started to carry cash with me and bring a credit card. This was a significant change for me, as I’m not accustomed to using cash and card. At the beginning for a few months, I remember that I kept forgetting to bring my wallet all the time. It was a nightmare! But now, I don’t know precisely since when, I always have my purse with me. It seems to have become a new habit!

Moving to a new country was not as glamorous or easy as I had thought. Questions that seemed easy to answer at home, like where I can buy a pan, food, and seasonings, can make you desperate in the beginning. Especially when you don’t know the local language at all, imagine that you have no idea of the bus station’s name in front of your dorm, the words on the packages of food, and everyone speaking German during the break. Luckily, I am starting to come to terms with it. Throughout the journey, I always find little glimpses of hope.

Lisi Wei

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