Monday, March 14, 2011

Why I love Switzerland (Geneva)

Before I start telling you about why I love living in Geneva, I have to emphasize that I don't believe in the "Paradise on Earth" concept. You can go and live on a beautiful tropical island or in the hypest cities of the world, this in itself is not going to make you happy. However, you can definitely prefer one place over another, and I must say that I am pretty impressed with what this one can offer. I'm obsessed with the bright side of life and would probably find a hundred things to enjoy in a desert or in Siberia or even in tribal Africa (some places where I can less easily see myself fitting in...). And I did love living in Hungary, though a couple of things did really bug me continually. But you know what? I just seem to have found my place here. And even if it takes so much effort and time to make Geneva accept me, I think I named it home like a week after landing. Wanna know why? ;)
First of all, I love its size. I come from a city with a population of 2 million and I immediately noticed the difference. With around 180 000 people, Geneva's neither too small nor too big. I love nature and I love spending days away from the noise of the city (which is so easily done here, but I'll tell you about that later), but for some reason I need that urban element in my life. I could never ever imagine living in the countryside back in Hungary and I would only be able to do so here because Switzerland is fairly small and wherever you are you're never too far from the cities. But were I ever to move I would miss Geneva sorely.

I love how it's international and very (French) Swiss at the same time, how you can fit in whatever you wear or do or whatever language you speak. I love the food (Swiss and French and Italian with oriental touches) and I love the cuteness of the streets and buildings. I adore the little houses that can appear anywhere, from the most high-tech neighborhood to the bank district and sparkle in all colors of the rainbow, sporting hundreds of years old facades. Some have compared the city to a clock-maker's masterpiece and looking at it, lying at the foot of strange hills and surrounded by the snow capped peaks of the Alps, lit by the sun sparkling on the clearest blue-green waves of its pristine lake... I can seriously believe that it was once created from precious gems and shiny steel cogs to be ticking forever.

It's old and new and the best of both. The list of Geneva's beauties and charms would go on forever, if I was allowed the place and time. But I guess, to really decide, you have to see it for yourself. As I said I don't think there's any perfect place on earth. But, just like in love, if you find the place where you're not annoyed by the annoyances and the beauties just make your heart race -- I think that's the closest you can get! And I think I've found that place. I know there are annoyances. You might find Geneva ridiculously expensive and frustratingly pretentious, with people hiding behind the facade of internationalness to make up for their faults and lack of character, and to be able to pass judgment on anyone based on their own rules. But you know what? I find that that argument is their weakness at the same time, and you can easily break their shell when you point out just how anything can be international. And I can always look past their arrogance with a wink and an accepting smile, for their defenses only work against attack. And they'll never know that the little girl they so willingly accepted as a guest of charity is in truth just as Genevoise as they are. But they're welcome in my city and everyone else is welcome too, for whenever we wish to be rid of our backpack and camera we can instantly become citizens here, where you're only an outsider if you wish to be.

Whenever people ask me why I love Switzerland, I can only say "just look at it!". I do love the people and the food and the general atmosphere, and all of these are very important reasons for me still being here. But if you need more reasons, please go to googlemaps and zoom. Stark blue lakes and snowy slopes, palm trees and middle age castles, slow lakeside towns and modern architecture, highways and villas and parks and forests... It's like the best of Earth! It's like a huge playground for adults, a theme park of nature and history. I seriously feel that if I was ever to leave I would be much like a kid being pulled away from play. I would viciously rub my lollipop in the face of anyone doing it to me. =)
I know Fate can take me wherever and I'll accept it. But I will always miss this controversial little place called Switzerland. I'll never know if they're the most open or the most narrow minded, the coldest or the warmest, whether they live in the past or the future or are just seizing the day. I still don't know whether I love the (French) Swiss for their childish optimism and idealism or for their fear of failure and materialism. I don't know whether I feel they're somewhat elevated or they sorely need some sort of salvation... I don't know if I love them for their strengths or their weaknesses. But I do know that I love living among them.
I know it's hard to see why I love living here. Believe me it's just as hard to explain. It's as if I'd been born to live here, I fit in so well with most of the local customs and bring my own hue to the rainbow of cultures that make up Geneva. I admire many of the ideals and goals that drive the Swiss and Switzerland as a whole. And I understand most of their problems too, though to most people they only come through as silly inconveniences. But I guess you have to pay a fee if you want to ride their roller coaster. ;)

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for verbalizing my thoughts about this wonderful, unforgettable place! I recently came back from Geneva and I miss the place terribly. My mind and body is back home but I truly left my heart in Switzerland!