Countries I have called home

2015-05-07

little me eating durian

Since this blog is also about my experiences as a cosmopolitan (you can judge whether or not I can call myself one after reading this post) I thought a short biography would give you an overview of what my origins are and based on what experiences I’m writing. I was born in Singapore almost twenty years ago as the daughter of a Singaporean and a German. I lived there until 2003 and went to a German School, but I also spoke Mandarin Chinese and English.

Then my family moved to Switzerland and I had a hard time adapting. Till today I don’t know what the matter was – I refused to learn/speak Swiss German (and I still don’t speak it because I just wouldn’t be me if I did. Instead I’m still stuck with my standard German with Swiss accent, awesome, right?) since I didn’t like it back then and I somehow always dreamt of returning to Singapore.

I did an exchange year in Uruguay from August 2011 to July 2012. To describe it with one word: It was tough. So tough it almost broke me (though it didn’t have to do with the country itself and I returned twice last year). After my return to Switzerland I didn’t only have to re-adapt to the culture but also had sort out many issues. However I managed to do so after almost a year and finally made peace with myself and my environment.

in Uruguay
Tanned in Uruguay (2011)

I stayed in Switzerland for two years to finish school and obtained not only the Schweizer Matura but also the International Baccalaureate last summer – though I’m still not sure if the latter will serve me one day. Well, who knows.

My next stop was Germany, since it was my standard answer to the question “Where are you from?” even though I’ve never lived there. I moved to the town where my grandparents live and that I have visited countless times since I was born – the plan was to find my home here. Well, it kinda failed. I do feel home here, but not differently than in other countries I have lived in. So I learned my lesson and realised I don’t have a geographical home, for now.

I’m going to move back to Switzerland this autumn to start studying psychology and sinology (study of China). I don’t know how long I’ll stay there. Maybe I’ll do as the university recommends and will study in China for one year. Maybe I’ll relocate my studies to Germany or another European country. Maybe I’ll stay in Switzerland. We’ll see.

Sorry guys, I couldn’t really shorten this overview. I’ll go more into the details by and by but I think this is a good summary of my stations so far.

So what do you think? Can I call myself a cosmopolitan?

Love,
Monika

18 Comments
    1. Wow, I didn’t know you have been living in Switzerland. And I also didn’t know you are going to study here. But you may be able to improve your Swiss German ;) You’ve been living in many countries. That’s awesome! I think you can definitely call yourself a cosmopolitan

      1. thanks for your comment, Dennis! what, you didn’t?? I thought I’ve told you :D that’s why I was so surprised when I found out you were Swiss haha
        well I think I can speak it if the situation requires it but I just feel weird then. btw I have a hard time imagining you actually speaking Swiss German since you’re only writing in English or standard German here :D

        1. Just to confuse you a little more, I am going to answer this in English :D But I actually do speak Swiss German. And I could also do the standard German with a very nice Swiss accent ;)

          Yeah, you probably told me. I mean, I knew that you have been to Tessin. But I honestly thought you have just been in Switzerland for holidays. That’s why I was surprised. But in fact, I think it’s really cool.

          1. haha I don’t doubt you do, I just can’t imagine it :P maybe you should write in Swiss German to confuse me even more haha I’d love to hear that standard German with lovely Swiss accent. Nothing more beautiful for my ears :P
            well, I was there for holidays so you weren’t wrong haha and yeah, the world is a small place :)

            1. I’m originally from Germany (I do live in the U.S., though), and I always found Swiss German neat to listen to. For those in the U.S., I’d like to compare it to Americans listening to a Scottish person from a small town. ;-) I tell ya, though, we were stationed in Bavaria a few years ago (a state in the southeastern tip of Germany) and for the first few weeks, I had trouble understanding the locals. The interesting thing was that I grew up in Heidelberg, just a state over. We have our own strong dialect in that region and we were only 3 hours apart…

              Tschuess!!!

              1. Thank you for your comment, Nickie!
                haha I’ve heard of Germans that they don’t understand Swiss German but do think my Swiss accent (which I totally despise) is cute. The comparison to Scottish is interesting :D I’m living in the “Pfalz” now and have problems understanding people who speak the dialect. They don’t speak that in Heidelberg, do they?
                tschüss :))

    1. That’s a lot of moving around. I’ve lived in two countries on two continents, Canada and Japan. It’s interesting that you found it difficult to adapt to Switzerland. It makes me wonder how well my daughter will adapt to Canada when we move there next year. For me, it will have been 11 years since I lived there and 5 years since I’d been outside of Japan. My daughter will be fluent in English and Japanese, and she’ll learn French in school. I hope she’ll learn it well, because I gave up on it after high school. Wish I hadn’t. During my last year in Japan, I think I’ll work hard on studying Japanese and reviewing some French.

      1. Thank you for commenting! I have to admit that I was a special case, my siblings who were four and six when we moved had no problems adapting and obtain the Swiss nationality now. So I think and hope your daughter won’t have any problems either!
        We also have to study French in school and I preferred other languages. Maybe there’ll be another language she’ll love if it isn’t French?
        Good luck with your language studies!

        1. Canada’s languages are English and French, so French is compulsory in elementary school, though optional after that. It depends on the school, but other possible languages include German, Spanish, and Chinese (Cantonese). But that’s usually in high school.

          1. This is pretty similar to Switzerland’s schooling system, where French is also one of the national languages and other languages are optional later on. She’ll have some great options to choose from!

            1. Yes, I think she will. With Canada’s multicultural society, there should be plenty of languages to choose from.

    1. Very interesting Monika and you definitely sound cosmopolitan to me! I found Swiss German incomprehensible – I do know some German as I’ve been studying it but the regional dialects must be very confusing if you’re living in the Swiss German parts! Good luck with your studies! :)

      1. Thank you for reading the post and commenting! haha yeah Swiss German was also incomprehensible to me when I first heard it but now it’s really familiar (no wonder after so many years). Toll, dass Du ein bisschen Deutsch kannst! :)
        thanks, I’m still not sure if I’ll start this year or wait another year though.

    1. Wow! I sort of stumbled over your blog thanks to antje posting it on her facebook page (you go girl!) and ended up spending quite some time reading and actually likeing what I read. This didn’t happen for quite some time now!

      the born and bred swiss girl I am, I never really felt like calling switzerland my “home” since I entered my teens and rather found myself several places to call home around the world. So I can clearly feel you!

      Wish you best of luck with your studies and whenever you’ve got a hard time “adapting” just keep in mind that you can go and work everywhere after having studied in switzerland, swiss reputation ahoi!

      alles Gute!

      1. Hi Anina!
        Thank you so much for your comment, it brightened up my day :) I’m glad you found me through Antje and like it here!
        Which countries do you consider home?
        haha you’re right, thanks! do you think I should get my Bachelor in Switzerland as well (because of the reputation)? I’m currently considering other options but I’m not sure if it’s wise.
        Danke, Dir auch alles Gute und ein schönes Wochenende! :)

    1. Durian with a newspaper protecting the floor! Looks like our backgrounds are more similar than one might expect :-)

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