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Who am I?
(originally published in the February 2009 issue of Expat In Switzerland)

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Funny, I have never really thought of myself as an expat. It is certainly a much nicer term to describe a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country and culture other than that of the person’s upbringing, than a foreigner. When I arrived in Switzerland, nearly 27 years ago now, at the tender age of 18, I definitely felt like a foreigner. And what a greenhorn I was! I had never even been outside the UK before for goodness sake. What a shame I didn’t have access to websites such as this then, life would have been so much easier...

Having said that I have found my way in this land of opportunity; land of opportunity? I hear you say, that’s a title usually reserved for a far greater country than this surely? No, I think Switzerland is a land of tremendous opportunity. You can achieve almost anything here – OK you might have to follow a load of rules and regulations and it certainly won’t be handed to you on a plate, but with a lot of determination and initiative, as well as a bit of luck anything really is possible here.

Arriving in Switzerland all those years ago with a suitcase and a one year work permit I certainly believed anything was possible, although that was probably more to do with being 18 and believing the world was mine for the taking than an insight into what this beautiful country had to offer me.

I would never have suspected then that I would still be in here in 2009, having married an Austrian, formed a family (our son is American), embarked on self employment, set up my own photography studio - thus fulfilling not only a life long ambition to work for myself but also to do something that I am passionate about. And all that within two worlds in one country - the Swiss world and the “expat“ world. Over the next months/issues I will be sharing some of my experiences of setting up home and shop here with you. According to Wikipedia I am not officially an expat: ,In some countries, such as Switzerland, the term "expat" is not used for all foreigners living and working there, but only to those on "expat" contracts”. Whatever, expat, foreigner, alien even (yes, it’s an official term), those of us living here, but not from here, all seem to face more or less the same issues at one time or another. Sometimes success and happiness are just a question of how we approach those issues as individuals, but more on that next time…

Linda Atschreiter

Linda is a regular contributor to the ExpatInCH.com newsletter and runs the Foto eMotion photographic studio in Zug. See www.foto-emotion.ch for more information.

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