Chez Switzerland

Switzerland, eh?


In my garden in Calgary

Hi! I’m Vivian. Yeppers. I am a Canadian. Hmm. That means I was born and raised in Canada. To everybody else in the world, outside of Canada itself, it is impossible that I am a Canadian apparently. The fact that my hair, colouring, and features give away the fact that I am of Chinese descent makes non-Canadians believe that I can’t really be a Canadian. Ah, but that is a part of my anguish as a Canadian-expat around the world. You can (and will) read all about that on this blog.

I was born and raised in Calgary. I have been expating around the world for almost 15 years. Outside of Canada, I have also lived in Hong Kong and Indonesia. I have spent time in mainland China and Japan as a long-term visitor (teaching and/or studying). I have been to almost 30 countries in the world as a visiting tourist. Now, I live in Switzerland; the land of cows, chocolate, clocks, and cheese.

I think the reason I’ve been sent to live in Switzerland dates back to a big social faux-pas I made while living in Hong Kong. We had some Swiss-German friends there. The lady called me on the phone to ask me over for dinner. She asked me, “Do you know Raclette?” Now, I had never heard of the word, Raclette before. I didn’t want to appear too dumb in front of her. So, I took a guess that Raclette was a name of a person. So, I replied back to her, “Uh, have I met her yet?” To that reply, she went into peals of laughter. OK. So my attempt to not appear dumb failed. Well, her incorrect English grammar implied that it was a person she was referring to. As a polite Chinese-Canadian, I refrained from pointing that out to her and justly embarrassing her for embarrassing me. She then explained to me that Raclette is a type of cheese from Switzerland. (Now, how I was I supposed to know that? The only cheese we have in Canada is cheddar and Kraft slices.) She was inviting me to have a sort of fondue-type of traditional Swiss meal called “Raclette”. Raclette is when you melt slices of Raclette cheese on top of boiled potatoes. Sides dishes include little white onions and gherkins. (Sounds kind of like an ugh kind of meal to me. Are you inviting me to a Raclette meal to deepen our friendship or to kill the friendship? It doesn’t help that the cheese, when melted, smells like a bad case of gas…) It was a foreshadowing of what was to come in my future. For that faux-pas, I have been sent to Swiss purgatory and to eat Raclette for many more years in my life and to learn true Swiss culture. I won’t be able to return home until I’ve been re-educated.

I have developed a witty, sometimes dry, sometimes dry-witted sense of humour as I travail through various in-congruencies and escapades while living away from home. (Can’t you tell that already?)

I thought I would write a travel-humour blog/book about my fantastic (not!) expat life in Switzerland. The image of Heidi and her colourful apron and her Swiss cow is enough to make anyone laugh out loud. Surely, I can go one step further and make a million bucks off of this?

I wear several hats in my life. My obvious hat on this blog is one of a poor Canadienne expat trapped in some alien land, trying to return home but she can’t find her ruby shoes. The other hat I will wear occasionally is Angry Little Canadian-Chinese Girl. You’ll love her. Other times, I will be the one-room schoolhouse Marm. I’m a school teacher in real-life so I can’t help that one, even though it may be a bit painful for you. Now, SIT UP and PAY ATTENTION!

I can only promise you that I will attempt to be funny, though.


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