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#WeAreSwissAbroad What makes Germany different from Switzerland?

Bärtiger Mann mit Jacke und Halstuch in einem Wald

Schaffner pictured in a forest in Germany.


It was romance that enticed David Schaffner, 25, to leave Switzerland and move to Germany. But there’s more to like about Germany than just the love of his life. When and why did you leave Switzerland?

David Schaffner: For love. I left Switzerland in 2016 for my girlfriend, who is now my wife.

The points of view stated in this article, especially about the host country and its politics, are the interviewee’s opinion and are not necessarily in line with’s position.

end of infobox Was it a one-way journey, or do you intend to return to Switzerland some day?

D.S.: I am not planning to return, but I also wouldn’t rule it out. What is your work? And how is it going?

D.S.: I work in the food industry, in marketing. We specialise in “private label packaging” for organic tea and spices and have both big and small customers in central Europe.

The organic sector is growing and constantly changing. It is a very interesting and varied job. I got this job in the traditional way, by applying to an advertisement.

Alongside my job, I’m studying business administration. My schedule is quite full but it’s good to have a challenge.

swissinfo: Where do you live at the moment and what is the lifestyle and cuisine like there?

D.S.: I live in a small town in northern Hesse, near to the border with Lower Saxony and Thuringia. Life here is very quiet, which is how I like it.

German cuisine is not so very different from Swiss cuisine. We seldom go out to eat as my wife and I both like cooking and we try to buy healthy regional produce.

Frau und Mann mit Bart, beide lächelnd

David Schaffner with his German wife

(zVg) What do you find more appealing about Germany than Switzerland?

D.S.: Germany is more varied as far as arts and culture is concerned. The educational opportunities are very high quality and cost very little compared to Switzerland. In addition there are some EU benefits, such as no roaming costs on the mobile phone and no exchange-rate costs within the EU.

Two big differences which spring to mind are the open, direct manner of the Germans, and that you can drive as fast as you like on the Autobahn. How do you see Switzerland from a distance?

D.S.: From a distance, Switzerland seems very small, and yet it is omnipresent in my life. I follow the news and the sports results, speak to friends and family on the phone and here in Germany, I belong to a Swiss club. Do you sometimes feel like an outsider, or are you well integrated?

D.S.: At the beginning it wasn’t easy, as I had to build a new social community. Moving abroad means leaving behind family and friends. That wasn’t easy, and sometimes still today there are moments when it’s hard. But now I feel very well integrated. Through my job, the university and club activities I made contacts relatively quickly. A warm and open relationship with my wife’s family has contributed a great deal to a successful integration process.

Mann mit Jacke, Halstuch und Bart in einem Wald

On a walk in the German woods


swissinfo: Which cultural differences cause you the most trouble?

D.S.: I get on very well with the people and the culture here. Perhaps that is because I have known my wife for eight years now, and of course I came to Germany regularly before 2016. On top of that, we Swiss are known to be very adaptable. What do you enjoy most about daily life abroad?

D.S.: In Switzerland I was still living with my parents. My journey to work at the cadet school was only seven kilometres, so it wasn’t worth getting my own apartment.

So I enjoy having our own apartment here and our own household to run. Work is fun and I always look forward to my weekly choir practice. Do you take part in Swiss elections and referendums?

D.S.: Yes, I vote by e-vote in elections and referendums. We Swiss have the privilege of a voice in political processes. So I find it important to make the most of this opportunity.

As a Swiss expatriate, some referendums only have an indirect impact on me. In such cases, I consult with people who are directly affected by a referendum. What do you most miss about Switzerland?

D.S.: Rivella, Bündnerfleisch (air-dried meat) and Easter cakes.

Mann in Schwimmweste am Ufer eines Flusses, dahinter ein Paddelboot

Kayaking on the Werra river


Are you a Swiss citizen living abroad? If so add the hashtag #WeAreSwissAbroad to your photos on Instagram

Translated from a written interview in German,

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