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Lotti’s return to Switzerland: the countdown is on

The boxes are packed and things will be picked up in a few days. Keystone / Urs Flueeler Keystone / Urs Flueeler

The Covid pandemic shattered Lotti Pfyl’s dream of settling in Germany. Unemployed, she is just about to move back to Switzerland. In her diary, the Swiss emigrant describes her feelings during this process. 

This content was published on February 6, 2021 - 11:00
Lotti Pfyl (text), Melanie Eichenberger (editing)

The countdown is on. In a few days, the removal van will rock up to my doorstep which means bidding goodbye to Germany. I am well prepared and almost packed. I just need to run a few errands and buy some things that are cheaper here than in Switzerland.

Lotti Pfyl. zvg

I will be granted social welfare benefits, which is a relief. The requirements are very strict, but I think appropriate. I will have to look for a job, and on the tenth of every month submit my bank statements and five job application letters to the social welfare centre. I will be very transparent.

The question is whether I will find employment at age 61, but I feel confident that I will receive help and support. If I get a job, I have to hand over my income [but] the deductible External linkfor a 100% job is CHF400 [a monthly incentive received by claimants.] I will receive these payments until I find a job that pays me enough so that I no longer need social benefits.

I have also applied for relocation assistance at Switzerland’s general consulate in Munich after I accidentally stumbled across some detailed information on the website of the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs/Citizen Services. The information contradicted what I was told at the consulate at the beginning of November. I haven’t been contacted yet, but let’s see.

Almost all her possessions have been packed for her return to Switzerland. zVg

Feeling melancholic

I feel a bit melancholic when I look back on my last few years in Germany. I had the chance to get to know the country which before I only knew from travelling or visiting my relatives. We learnt high German at school, however, I still used some Swiss-specific terms and phrases which I had to phase out over the years. My accent became my trademark and immediately gave away that I was Swiss which earned me some brownie points with the people.

Saying goodbye to loved ones is not easy even though I only moved to the Bavarian Upper Palatinate region less than a year ago and have not had the chance to meet many people due to the Covid-19 pandemic. My neighbours have been extremely kind. Twice a week, seven-year-old Hannes would visit his dad who is my neighbour, and the two of them would regularly collect my dog to take with them on their little adventures. It is hard for all of us to give up these good neighbourly ties, but we know that we will keep in touch.

Having to let go

I am embarking on a new phase in my life, not only because I am returning to Switzerland but also because of my age. Many things seem a lot less important. I am reducing my household even further, and I am amazed how many things I possess.

The boxes feel heavy, and I have to be careful not to strain my back too much when I pick them up. My mind sometimes struggles to accept that. Letting go of material things, youth and agility has been weighing on my mind over the past few weeks, but even though it is my biggest challenge, it feels really good.

There are only a few more days until I return. I have taken care of everything I could organise online. The things I have to do in person such as opening a bank account or getting a mobile phone contract will have to wait until I get there.

Butterflies in my stomach

I am curious to find out how Switzerland deals with Covid-19. In Germany, especially here in Bavaria, regulations are very restrictive, but I think they are appropriate since they are for my own protection. I will not change my behaviour once I get to Switzerland.

I imagine setting up my small flat in Walzenhausen in Appenzell. I have explored the surroundings on Google Maps and looked for where I can walk my dog. I wonder how she will experience the move and her new surroundings? I am slowly feeling butterflies in my stomach which means I am getting increasingly excited.  

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