Before eventually returning to Switzerland, where she would like to bring up her children, 25-year-old Eva Witschi wants to “have adventures in the big wide world for a while.” Since 2016, she has been living in Britain with her 26-year-old partner. She sees no risks to her career in advertising there, despite Brexit.
swissinfo.ch: Why did you leave Switzerland?
Eva Witschi: I left Switzerland in July 2016 with my long-term partner. We had both dreamed of living abroad for a long time. We wanted to go to an English-speaking country and Britain is the nearest. We lived in Birmingham for a year and then moved to London in September 2017.
I wouldn’t rule out returning to Switzerland in a couple of years, but first I want to have some adventures in the big wide world. I felt I had reached a dead end in Switzerland because I didn’t know what I wanted to do professionally.
In Britain, I found masters courses that don’t exist in Switzerland. They are more creative, relevant and international in terms of the students. I had the opportunity to work with leading international advertising agencies and learn from them. It was an opportunity I would never have had in Switzerland.
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swissinfo.ch: What job are you doing? How did it come about and how is it going?
E.W.: I submitted my masters thesis on Future Media: PRO to Birmingham City University on Sept. 1, 2017, and five days later I started working in London as a Media Activation Executive at Essence, an international media agency.
At the moment I am on the Paid Social Team, which means I create digital advertising for international clients on various social media for the German and French markets, among others.
It is going very well. My colleagues are all very warm and open. Every Friday there is beer and wine at work from 4pm (that would only happen in Britain); every Tuesday evening there is yoga for those who are interested.
Amazingly, the working week is shorter than in Switzerland at 40 hours, but here there’s no paid overtime.
I don’t mind that, because I can have invaluable experiences here that I might not be able to have in Switzerland.
swissinfo.ch: Where exactly do you live at the moment? And how would you describe life and the food in London?
E.W.: We have been living in Hackney in northeast London since September 2017 – a very creative, lively district. We are sharing a three-room apartment with a couple from Spain and Colombia. I cycle 40 minutes to work every day, which saves me from the hot, crowded Tube and keeps me fit.
If we want to eat out, we have an enormous selection of diverse cuisines from all over the world. At the weekends, we can visit museums, attend cultural events or parties that we would never encounter in Switzerland.
You can do almost anything you want in London, you just have to know where to look. Not far from here there is even a farmyard in the middle of the city, where you can stroke the animals.
What has most amazed me is that London (or at least Hackney) is more ecologically-minded than Birmingham. We don’t just separate our rubbish here; we even have compost – in a city of millions! If London can do that, then anyone can.
swissinfo.ch: What is more attractive about Britain than Switzerland? What is the biggest difference?
E.W.: The size and the cultural diversity are the biggest differences to me, and the most attractive aspect is the career opportunities.
London is the advertising capital, and this is where the role of “strategist” was invented – that is the role I am aiming for. Because London is a world-class city, there are countless companies and advertising agencies operating here which makes it very exciting for me.
On the other hand, Switzerland’s safety is attractive, which of course also has to do with its size – safety as far as daily life is concerned, but also security in terms of health and insurance.
swissinfo.ch: How does Switzerland seem to you from a distance?
E.W.: Switzerland is a palace in the heart of Europe, my home, a safe haven to which I am very likely to return in a few years, because I would also like my children to grow up in a palace.
I don’t think the people in Switzerland realise that they are living in a palace. With some distance you become aware of how precious it is to grow up so protected; how little you have to pay for university and how short the bike rides and walking distances are.
swissinfo.ch: How is the political situation in Britain, particularly now, after the decision to leave the European Union?
E.W.: I am curious to see what will actually happen if Brexit is pushed through. So far, we have only heard speculation about the consequences, but no one seems to know what it will really mean.
The Brexit referendum passed a few weeks before we left Switzerland, which wasn’t particularly encouraging for us. But everyone was very welcoming to us.
swissinfo.ch: How do you see your future in Britain after the Brexit referendum?
E.W.: I don’t think our status here is in danger because we both work and have been here for a while.
I could be wrong, but in the immediate future I don’t think much will change. I’m more curious about what it means for Britain and whether the economy will go downhill.
swissinfo.ch: Do you take part in Swiss elections and votes? By letter, or by e-voting?
E.W.: I missed just one vote this year – apart from that, I always vote either by letter or e-voting.
swissinfo.ch: What do you most miss about Switzerland?
E.W.: Cervelat [a typical Swiss sausage], paprika crisps made by Zweifel, Thomy mayonnaise and chocolate. Of course, I miss my friends and family too, but luckily we are not so far away and we can visit Switzerland regularly and have people visiting us.
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Translated from German by Catherine Hickley (This interview was conducted in writing), swissinfo.ch