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#WeAreSwissAbroad What the Swiss abroad think about Switzerland


There are Swiss living all over the world - and we've found some of them on Instagram. What do they think of Switzerland from afar?

Swiss abroad can tag their pictures on Instagramexternal link with #WeAreSwissAbroadexternal link. That's how we found some very interesting people who have been telling us their emigration stories. The result: more than 30 portraits. All have answered this question:

"How you perceive Switzerland from afar?"

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Now, after the first collection of answersexternal link, comes part two, with reactions from those who have moved to the Philippines, New Zealand, Thailand, Japan, Turkey, Austria, Indonesia, Portugal, Canada and Great Britain.

Doris Hofer, Istanbul / Turkey

  • Moved to Turkey in 2004 for love
  • Has two children
  • Fitness and nutrition tips have made her an Instagram star
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"If you speak Turkish, people open their hearts and simply love you. This can be quite useful and it is certainly beneficial for my television shows. Also, I’ve never received any hateful comments here, unlike in Switzerland. Maybe it’s because of my foreign accent or because people here are less frustrated than in Switzerland.

I am proud of my country. Our political system is an important model for others. People are entitled to have their own opinion there and they can express it if it is reasonable enough. I also love Switzerland’s public transport as well as the disposal and recycling system."

+ Counselling on health and food made her famousexternal link

Robert Woodrich, Bangkok / Thailand

  • Born in Canada
  • Swiss citizenship from his maternal grandmother
  • Member of Swiss-Thai Chamber of Commerce 
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"As a teenager, I became rather interested in politics, and Swiss direct democracy appealed to my strong sense of fairness.

My impression of Switzerland from abroad is probably rather romantic – my fondest memories are from long ago, whereas things have changed since then. However, in a time when European countries lurch from one crisis to the next, Switzerland still appears a political oasis of sorts."

+ Robert Woodrich: 'Switzerland still appears a political oasis of sorts'external link

Mann mit Katze auf der Schulter
(Robert Woodrich)

Eva Witschi, London / Great Britain

  • Left Switzerland in July 2016 with long-term partner
  • Lived in Birmingham first
  • Did a masters in "Future Media"and works as a Media Activation Executive in an international media agency
end of infobox

"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.

+ Eva Witschi: invaluable professional experience in Londonexternal link

Emanuel Wenk, Wildon / Austria

  • Moved in 2001 to Austria to be with his newborn son
  • Suffered burnout after many years in catering industry
  • Now manages an animal shelter
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"Now a return home is very unlikely. My son is going his own way now, but I have a lot of responsibility towards the animals.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a country that is as colourful and diverse as an Alpine meadow with grasses and flowers. I don’t miss anything material about Switzerland. On a human level, I miss a few things: the quality of the handshakes, the practicality, and the openness to new ideas."

+ Swiss in Austria spends his life sheltering animalsexternal link

Madeleine Weiss, Yogyakarta / Indonesia

  • Emigrated to Indonesia in 2015 with Indonesian husband and two small children
  • Intended to stay two years
  • Has many task, some income-earning
end of infobox

"It’s hard to get cheese here; sometimes I even dream about different kinds of cheeses smiling at me from the shelves in the endlessly long aisles in Swiss supermarkets like Migros or Coop.

I love the clean rivers and lakes you can jump in during summer [in Switzerland]. It doesn’t matter whether it’s somewhere in the middle of nowhere or right in the centre of a town. It would be wonderful if we could swim in the rivers of Yogyakarta. Unfortunately, this is simply unthinkable due to the rubbish, which is being dumped in the river every day."

+ Madeleine Weiss: 'I love life in Indonesia'external link

Madeleine Weiss

Get involved! (More portraits and quotes below)

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Bilder von Auslandschweizern

Make global Switzerland visible. Tag your Instagram photos with #WeAreSwissAbroad.

We hope to discover lots of interesting Swiss people abroad, and we’ll repost a selection of your pictures and videos on our Instagram account.


Séverine von Kaenel, Baleal / Portugal

  • In 2016 she packed her belongings into a rusty old camper and drove to Portugal
  • She spent the first two months living in her camper before moving into a shared house
  • Now she works as a self-employed massage therapist
end of infobox

"I have always felt positive about my home country. There are things that bother me, however, they may not irritate other people.

I really appreciate the peace in Switzerland (I have always felt safe and secure there), our high level of education, our politics (even though I am not really interested), our history and our openness towards different cultures and religions. I also believe that the majority of the Swiss are very tolerant, and I am proud of it.

What I don’t like is the pressure we are exposed to. It’s all about work, earning money, having a career, doing well, etc.

The social ranking is still very important. It compartmentalises people, limits them and suppresses their potential. Slowly but surely, we are getting away from our traditional blinkered way of thinking, however, there is still room for improvement!"

+ Séverine von Kaenel: From Switzerland to Portugal in a rusty old camperexternal link

Nina Bader, Vancouver / Kanada

  • Went to Canada in 2011 and calls her emigration, her "move abroad"
  • Has a Mexican partner
  • Works for the Swiss Chamber of Commerce
end of infobox

"I find life here a lot more relaxed, the people living on the west coast have their own rhythm. They don’t have such a narrow view on life and they say ‘Thank you’ every time you get off the bus. Do people do this in Switzerland?

Only when you live abroad, you get to appreciate Switzerland…. All of a sudden, you notice how well organised, reliable and structured the Swiss are… I am proud that I can call Switzerland my home and I’m always happy to go back there. By the same token, life in Switzerland can also be exhausting due to the high expectations and performance pressure. You always have to prove yourself and the Swiss are very strict with themselves. I think Switzerland could do with a bit of loosening up."

+external link Nina Bader: 'Life in much more relaxed in Vancouver'external link

Luca Orduña, Tokio / Japan

  • Emigrated aged just 22
  • Set himself up in business with a colleague 
  • Manages a company that distributes Swiss watches
end of infobox

"Switzerland is and will remain my home. As a Swiss, it is important to me to be able to sell a Swiss product in Japan and to maintain daily contact with colleagues in Switzerland. Inviting my Japanese customers to the Basel watch fair is a highlight.

From a distance I realise that Switzerland offers very good training and professional conditions. I think that apprenticeships, for example, are an important cornerstone of that, and one of the reasons why Switzerland is very competitive internationally. Living abroad, I see again and again that Switzerland enjoys a very high reputation internationally and that this is very advantageous to the country."

+ Luca Orduña: Swiss watches for the mega-city Tokyoexternal link

Raphael Knopf, Hunterville / New Zealand

  • He emigrated via Australia to New Zealand in 2002 
  • He has a son and his own company with his father
  • Employs 22 beekeepers and does everything honey, from A to Z
end of infobox

"From here, Switzerland is doing well, as I have always thought. My only worry is the socialist tendency and its consequences for the next generations of Swiss in Switzerland. When I came to New Zealand, I didn’t receive anything for free. When a foreigner arrives in a country, wherever it is, they must take steps to integrate and not wait for others to take steps to accept them."

+ From Switzerland to a hut in New Zealandexternal link

Raphael Knopf

Manuel Schuster, Boracay / Philippines

  • Followed his girlfriend to the Philippines in 2015
  • Always wanted to work from anywhere in the world 
  • He is now a self-employed online marketing manager
end of infobox

"Apart from the fact that the Swiss are rather cold and uptight compared to the people of the Philippines, public transport here is a lot worse…

Even though the Swiss system obviously works a lot better, the people in Switzerland seem a lot unhappier. Maybe it’s the weather, but I’m not sure. Of course, I love my home country and the fresh mountain air that goes with it."

+external link A digital nomad in Manilaexternal link

Jacqueline Tschumi, Tokyo / Japan

  • Intended to stay on a short internship
  • But fell in love with her new home
  • After working for the Swiss embassy, is now at Nespresso
end of infobox

"The most significant difference though is the fact that I am a lot more out and about in Tokyo. There is always something going on and people go out for dinner or drinks more often. In Switzerland, this would simply be too expensive and there is not that much on offer.

Switzerland is a paradise with a very high standard of living. Most Swiss are not really aware of how well off they are when it comes to their jobs, holidays, etc. For me, Switzerland is a beautiful and good country, however, it can be a bit “square” at times and I wish people would be more willing to see the bigger picture."

+ Jacqueline Tschumi: "Not much flexibility in daily work life"external link

Are you a Swiss living abroad? Label your Instagram photos and videos with the hashtag #WeAreSwissAbroadexternal link.

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