the dark side of the mountains

I found the following   anonymous piece of writing by an Australian voicing his discontent from having lived in Switzerland and having decided  to leave on the English Forum  and another article written by a half jewish lady ;

But before i share it, i would like to say a few words funeral like before the  final burial ;

The thing about Switzerland is that if you express an unfavorable opinion it is looked upon like treason or being terribly ungrateful.

Actually today a rather primitive ape like Australian had listened to my conversation with a nice Swiss person and said horrible things about how stupid i am for feeling like i do, i feel that denial and disrespect are the way to go here, and if the swiss won’t follow it, you can be sure that Foreigners who are quick to adhere to the rules and love the strict rigidity just love to voice their patriotism , of which Samuel Johnson had  said, is the last refuge of a scoundrel , and i think Bob Dylan added a twist to that, and basically what he meant to say was that loving your country is always a good excuse for not loving human beings . wp-image-1621903264jpg.jpg

How living in Switzerland taught me about anti-Jewish bias

By A. PinskerJanuary 2, 2014 2:14pm
NEW YORK (JTA) — During the height of the recession, I moved to Switzerland. I had already lived in France, Japan, India and Israel, and traveled much of the rest of the world.

I’d gone global for work, love, spirituality and cultural infatuation, but this last time was for cash: As a teacher in the recession during a hiring freeze, like thousands of other Americans, I became an economic expat.

In the land of chocolate, cheese, bankers and income, my fellow New York native teachers and I were able to afford taxi rides, apartments on our own and meals out, living the American Dream — only abroad. We were paid a six-figure salary to teach Muslim princes, Hindu billionaires and Jewish corporate kids at an international middle school of students aged 11 to 14 in Zug, where the infamously pardoned Marc Rich brought Glencore, making the small former farm town fabulously wealthy.

The students were “third culture kids,” gone global from living in one oil-rich nation to another. They reminded me a lot of myself — not in financial terms but cultural: I am a half-Jewish, half-Ukrainian pan spiritual writer, teacher and yoga instructor who identifies as Jewish. Having lived around the world, I felt for them.

At one of our first staff meetings, one of the British teachers was discussing a problem student.

“He has Russian boy syndrome,” she said. My mouth dropped. “They’re obsessed with weapons and violence!” she said to a room full of nods.

Then my Indian-English co-teacher joked: “I thought this was a global school!”

Everyone in the room laughed. My Park Slope liberal skin chafed.

I was the only teacher in a school of thousands that celebrated Rosh Hashanah. I had to ask for special permission to take off two days. When I returned, my co-teacher asked if I had enjoyed my day off at the “Jewish celebration.” Noting a snippiness, I responded that I’d rather not discuss my religion. She retorted that “I was making things difficult” and she was “just making conversation.”

Near Christmastime, I saw for the first time blackface Santa’s helpers; St. Nicholas’ helpers were “Moors.” At the same time was a British-only celebration at school that I satirized in an article for The Huffington Post. Although I went to the Orthodox church in Geneva to volunteer, I was still called anti-Christian by my supervisor. As a half-Jew who had lived previously as a “nothing” (read to most: Christian), I never had experienced actual exclusion or discrimination. I was shocked.

The article and my other “outbursts” landed me in the principal’s office, where I was informed there were other complaints about me.

Separation of church and state is just an American thing, I soon learned. By Christmas I already was afraid of what would happen when I saw the baby Jesus manger set up in the parking lot.

When I was in the fifth grade, I had asked a teacher where were the other decorations besides the “Christian” ones? She asked, “Are you Jewish?” I said, “My dad is and my friends are,” and she immediately put up Kwanzaa and Hanukkah decorations. But in Switzerland, this attitude only attracted sneers and mocking remarks. I felt like I should resign.

I put my mezuzah inside my door. At a wedding in Israel — only a four-hour flight — I felt at home among my people, the Jews. My suspicions about Switzerland were valid: I was being discriminated against. By living in Japan, New York, Paris and India, all American and pro-Israel or Jewish friendly (I lived in the Marais district in Paris), I had not realized that anti-Semitism actually existed, and had never heard a discriminatory word spoken.

At a staff meeting I raised my hand and said, “Exclusion is a form of bullying, so please note that not all the students are Christian, so please say ‘Happy Holidays’ to all the students instead of ‘Merry Christmas.’ ” An American supervisor smiled and said “Happy Holidays.” I was thrilled. My co-teacher made every student line up to say it to me with spite.

An Irishwoman who referred to me as “the Jewish girl” said, “Switzerland is a Christian country, it has tradition, and Israel might be the same.” I told her maybe, but we were in an International school and that in India, an extremely diverse country, they would never celebrate the wrong holiday or wish a Happy Ramadan to a Hindu. Majority rules, she said, simply.

“Christians are the majority in the U.S., too,” I said. I realized what a very special place America is.

My comments resulted in the silent treatment in the staff room. I wasn’t invited to showers and parties. My New York friend said I was behaving like a college freshman. In fact, in college I had been a radical feminist activist — but then it was a good thing, not something to be penalized for.

My boss, a Scot, went out of his way to buy me a Hanukkah present and encouraged me to resign to preserve my teaching record and, more importantly, my belief that global citizenry, not nationalism, would help bridge the international world.

So I gave up the job. My rights in Switzerland were not those of an American. I’ve been all over the world, but only back home was I able to be a dissident, doing my patriotic duty by speaking up.

Now, back in Brooklyn, controversial artists are a dime a dozen, and I’m probably the least neurotic person in the room. I lost a nice income, but at least I know I’m free to be who I am.

It’s good to be home.

Adding to the article:

  1. 15 years ago, when i was still married and living in another part of Zurich, I had always placed a mezuza, a religious symbol of protection outside the door, one time i could not find it, the Serbian caretaker brought it saying a dog must have buried was a very odd situation.
  2.  10 years ago, when i lived in another apartment with many hostile foreigners, as a single mother with my three children , dog and two rabbits,  One christmas, i  had gone to the shared laundry room, and there was the corpse of a freshly killed pig laying on the table, the Serbian house supervisor had said, “have you never seen a dead pig in the supermarket before?” it was a serbian celebration but choosing to place the dead pig on the table was just one step, the other tenants most of them foreigners had called the police constantly because of noise my children and dog made, it was unbearable, yes, i blamed myself at the time but to be honest after years had passed, it was a house out of hell, and i used to joke it reminded me of a Russian classic piece for the theater “the lower depths” , between the openly racist Swiss and the openly racist foreigners, i must have been mad to have stayed so long…
  3. I recently made friends, i found a friendly next door neighbour, we had discussed Israel and he expressed interest in visiting then said later that his father would object to him visiting Israel because he disliked jews..and the chilling point is the lack of shame and apology.
  4. Most recently i had a cold rain of comments mocking a t shirt that said peace and love, being Israeli..i really think i can live without mean comments, and it is not just that there is no shame being racist or antisemitic, it is about the lack of empathy and respect for anyone different. I think it is a recipe for mental illness, i can not imagine not becoming depressed and full of despair when being around people who have no shame at expressing racist comments, i can not imagine anyone in Israel who is not extremist , an average Israeli speaking to anyone this way in public even with all the terror attacks , there is still a feeling that racism is wrong and shame at expressing small minded racist comments that both the Swiss and Foreigners have no problem saying.

Why i’m leaving Switzerland
After a lot of consideration, I have decided to leave Switzerland and return to Australia where I believe there is a higher quality of living. Although both countries have their cons, I believe Australia has a better standard of living overall.

Here are my reasons for leaving:

– Extremely expensive (especially food, forget eating out). Sure the salaries may be higher for *some* but I was actually better off on my salary in Australia.

– Rude, unfriendly people. The Swiss are rather cold and xenophobic.

– Racism. Most Swiss seem to hate foreigners.

– Difficult to make friends with the Swiss

– Lack of nightlife/entertainment

– Everything is closed on a Sunday. Shops also close by 7pm on every other day.

– Being charged as much as $3 for tap water in bars/restaurants.

– Being charged to use most public toilets. Even in McDonalds they are so stingy that they lock their toilets requiring a code. I have even seen a restaurant that charged you to use their toilet after paying for a meal!

– Billag and other pointless rip offs that make no sense. If the swiss can charge for something, then they will.

– Population density is much higher than in Australia. The swiss also have a lower personal space requirement. Being bumped into all the time without a simple apology.

– Horrible customer service. Why even bother eating out here when its so expensive and you get treated like a criminal instead of a valued customer just for being in their restaurant?

– Poor weather. It is supposed to be summer in a week and it has been raining non stop for most of Spring. Switzerland may have beautiful scenery but what is the point if you can’t even enjoy it most of the time due to rainy, grey weather? Where I come from in Australia there are TWICE the number of sunshine hours per year compared to Zurich.

– Lots of silly rules. No recycling on Sundays (the police will actually fine you if caught!). Not allowed to flush the toilet or shower after 10pm in some places, or you neighbours may call the police. No washing permitted on Sundays (never understood this one if the laundry is in the basement).

– Shared laundry room where people don’t follow the schedule or clean up after themselves. Countless times I have gone to do my laundry in my allocated time only to find someone else doing theirs when they weren’t supposed to.

– Very little English spoken. I am finding the language barrier to be extremely frustrating and often need my partner (German) to translate for me. Feels like I’ve lost my independence and have become isolated. It is also extremely difficult to get a job without speaking fluent German. There may be 1 suitable job that comes up a month which is ONLY English speaking. In Australia I could probably apply for 50 suitable jobs a month.

– MANY smokers everywhere. I have never been to a country with so many smokers in my life. It seems the typical Swiss breakfast consists of cigarettes and energy drinks (so much for the swiss being “healthy”). So sick of waiting for a train and being surrounded by smokers blowing smoke in my direction. Those glass rooms should be for the smokers and not the other way around. Why should non-smokers be banished to an area away from everyone else just because we want to live a healthy lifestyle? In other countries it is the smokers that have to find a designated smoking area away from everyone else.

– No job security. Employers have a lot of power and can fire you without a good reason. There are no unfair dismissal laws or protection like in Australia. I was fired just a few weeks ago without a good reason. My partner said her boss fired 5 people just this month for trivial reasons because he was doing some “spring cleaning” (he openly told her this!). Apparently he even fired someone because she was off sick for a week. I have heard many other stories of people being fired in this country for the most stupid reasons.

– Everyday life is a lot harder here. So many processes for getting anything done. You need to write a letter in German just to change something. In Australia things are done with a simple phone call. Recycling is an absolute pain in the ass – cardboard must be bound up in a neat pile and put out for collection on certain days. Cans, bottles, and plastic are separated and have to be taken to special recycling bins. Rubbish bags are expensive at about $20 for a pack of 10 (you can’t use any bag for rubbish). In Australia I miss having the luxury of two simple bins – one for rubbish and one for recycling (all items).

– Very expensive healthcare. Cheapest you can get is about $220 a month. Medication is very expensive. In Switzerland I pay $120 a month, in Australia I paid $35 (cost of all medications in Australia as it is subsidized by government). A doctors visit here will set you back at least $100 for a quick appointment. In Australia the “gap” you had to pay was about $30 and some doctors were even free (“bulk billing”). If I am sick in Switzerland then I am reluctant to see a doctor due to it being so expensive. In Australia I wouldn’t think twice about it. I believe health care is something that should be affordable for everyone, and you shouldn’t have to put off getting medical treatment simply because you cannot afford to.

About seagullsea

a seagull flying over the great ocean of life observing.
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