Manuela Rocker had a tough start when she arrived in Australia 22 years ago. But the 52-year-old Swiss expat has settled into life down under, and even has a place where she can buy Swiss cheese. Originally from Lugano, she lives on the coast just outside of Sydney.
swissinfo.ch: Why did you leave Switzerland?
Manuela Rocker: I left Switzerland in 1995 to follow my heart.
swissinfo.ch: How were the first few months abroad?
M.R.: The first few months were all about exploring and finding out about beautiful Sydney. The language wasn't a big issue as I already had a basic knowledge of English. But driving on the other side of the road was a little challenging at times!
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swissinfo.ch: Was it a one-way journey, or did you plan to return to Switzerland at some point?
M.R.: It was a one-way journey even though I had a bit of a re-think and spent 11 months in Switzerland in 2002, only to move back to Australia for good.
I can't exclude that I will move back to Switzerland one day... who knows what life has in store for you. But I have been living happily here with my family so I can't see that happening anytime soon. Sometimes I think my son might want to study in Switzerland someday, but he is only 11 so we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
swissinfo.ch: What is your occupation?
M.R.: I do a few things: I have a jewellery businessexternal link, we invented a duffel bag that turns into a change room, and I am also a health coach and am studying nutritional therapy. I love all my activities. It keeps life interesting.
swissinfo.ch: Where exactly do you live at the moment?
M.R.: I live just a ferry ride from Sydney, in a place called Manly, right by the beach. I live here with my husband Carl and our 11-year-old son Jett. We love the beach lifestyle and spend our weekends having a great time with friends, driving our son to tennis tournaments and playing tennis and beach volleyball. We are a very sporty family.
swissinfo.ch: What's the food like there?
M.R.: The food here is great. When I first arrived here 22 years ago it was pretty basic and finding good bread was a mission. Nowadays you can find anything you want... including beautiful Swiss cheese!! And I mean it... we found a Swiss cheese maker/importer who is a real gem. Every year we treat ourselves to a few fondue and raclette meals.
swissinfo.ch: What do you prefer about Australia to Switzerland?
M.R.: I love the great outdoor lifestyle and living right by the ocean. People are pretty relaxed here, so that is a bonus.
swissinfo.ch: What's your impression of Switzerland from abroad?
M.R.: I stay in touch with friends and with my family of course. I can't help but notice that they complain about life a lot.
The thing that I have noticed over the years is that Switzerland seems more and more crowded.... I don't recall it ever being like that many years ago.
Other than that, judging by what I read online it's still a great country which I love!!
swissinfo.ch: What do you think of the political situation in Australia? Are you interested in politics in your country of residence?
M.R.: I follow the news every now and then and of course voting is compulsory here so you kind of need to know what's going on. Some stuff I find great and other I find not so great. I think that that is the case in every country though. I can say that generally we've got it pretty good here in Australia, even though I miss some Swiss know-how, so to speak.
swissinfo.ch: Do you participate in Swiss elections and votes?
M.R.: No. I used to in the beginning but for me personally it felt a little wrong to voice my opinion from so far away. I’m not sure if I made the right decision or not.... time will tell.
swissinfo.ch: What do you miss about Switzerland?
M.R.: The mountains! This is what I miss the most, the beautiful Swiss mountains. And the long days of summer. Even with daylight savings here it's already dark by 8.30pm. How I miss the long summer nights in Lugano!
swissinfo.ch: If you don’t mind telling us, how old are you?
M.R.: I'm 52, almost 53 - but truly feel like I'm 40 at the most! I'm sure it's my healthy lifestyle.
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