“It was sheer coincidence that I came to Switzerland. The Startbahnwest agency was looking for a fill-in for three months. And I thought that I couldn’t pass up this opportunity. I fell in love with Zurich right away, and I swam across Lake Zurich alongside hundreds of other people in the Seeüberquerung only two weeks after my arrival. I had only known Switzerland from my school breaks: we always went to Lake Lucerne or went skiing in Valais. And I’ve loved drinking Rivella, the Swiss soft drink, ever since I was a child, which is a bit unusual for Germans.
I was born in Prague; my mom is Czech, my dad is a Sudeten German. By the time I was five years old, my parents had had enough of communism. They wanted to eat bananas and oranges and travel the world. We moved to Mainz, Germany where I went to high school and majored in media design. Later on, I worked for ZDF, a German TV channel, where I was responsible for channel promotion – which means information boards, moving images or the opening credits for a detective series.
In 2004, I landed as a graphic designer in the Berlin advertising scene. During this time, I had absolutely no private life, I rarely came home before 10 at night. Berlin was a non-stop party. Hype at every corner, everyone’s incredibly creative. Over time, I began to get burnt out. I started yearning for a more down-home way of life. The offer from Zurich came right in the nick of time. Fortunately, the three months turned into a permanent job as the creative director.
It surprises me how I didn’t notice, until I was in Switzerland, what Germans are like and that some of the clichés aren’t far off the mark. Your typical German will show up and say: “Here I am!” The Swiss are more reserved. I personally really appreciate their courtesy. The Swiss keep a greater distance, also physically. You’ll notice this when you ride a street car. When you’re in Berlin, you can feel the person behind you breathing on your neck.
But that doesn’t mean Zurich isn’t chic and innovative. It’s rather a slow-paced urban way of life, not as over-the-top and frenzied as in Berlin. I have no desire to return to Germany. I’m planning my future in Zurich.
My favourite place is the Limmat river. I love jumping into the water near the Werdinsel island. In the summertime, I go swimming every day, or I jog home along the Limmat. I’m right at home in the water: I was born not far from the Vltava, then I lived on the Rhine, I completed an internship by the Thames and worked near the Spree. And now I work right next to the Limmat. On the weekends, I often hike the mountains or go climbing or snowboarding. Pretty soon, I will definitely have to go on a snowshoe hike. Every day here feels like a vacation.
The only thing I’m having to get used to here in Switzerland is that some things are said indirectly in a roundabout way. You have to learn to read between the lines if you want to know what’s actually meant. But I’ve never experienced any anti-German sentiment. My boyfriend – he’s from Spain but grew up in Switzerland – thinks I might just not have noticed because, as a German, I lack the ability to recognise it in all its subtlety...”
Eva Bajer is a Helvetia customer.