So. I’ve been living in this tidy little country now for a whole year. I’ve changed, as we all do, when confronted with new experiences (and even without.)
I’ve been pleasantly surprised by many things: the location of my flat, the abundance of Brockis, or second-hand shops, my apparent ability not to be completely intimidated by a language I’ve never learned properly, the presence of hippies in such a square little country.
I’ve been unpleasantly surprised by things: the price of organic meat and of wool, the general parochialism here, and xenophobia of the population as a whole (fortunately discounting most of the individuals I’ve met,) the lack of rugby and good beer.
I made a decision a while ago to try and live with as little environmental impact as possible, and have succeeded in a number of areas:
I’m still on the first roll of council bin bags that I bought (the only ones that the rubbish collection lorries will take away.)
I’ve cooked about 90% from scratch, and based a lot of my cooking on home-made stock, from the scraps of vegetables that went into the freezer rather than the bin.
I’ve taken the unwanted produce of friends’ fruit trees and preserved them in delicious and/or alcoholic ways.
I’ve stopped using shampoo (er, more on that another time.)
I’ve done a lot of my stuff shopping in Brockis, trying to buy as little as possible from the toxic linear system of consumerism that we have created for ourselves. If you haven’t watched the Story of Stuff, I’m going to put it here and beg you to have a look. It’s only twenty minutes of your life, not very long in the grand scheme of things, but maybe it’ll make you think about things in a way that will change your impact on that grand scheme.
Along this theme, I also handmade all my Christmas presents last year, rather than buying made-in-China novelty rubbish that is designed to be thrown into landfill within a few months, and I am working on developing my sewing skills enough to not need (or even want) to buy many clothes from shops.
I’ve been very aware that I need to do these things to try and offset the carbon footprint that I am inevitably developing with every flight back to the homeland (unfortunately the year, and my holiday allowance, is too short to allow me to travel in a less nasty evil planet-killing way. Can’t someone just hurry up and invent teleporting?)
Away from my green endeavours, I have vastly improved my climbing and started proper outdoor climbing during the summer (a far cry from the brightly-coloured routes of the climbing hall.)
I have been known to switch a conversation from English to German because it was, well, just easier. I have argued free movement and feminism with my German-speaking colleagues and come out, if not on top, at least not underneath (although maybe due to my inability not to have the last word.)
I have filled my tiny little flat to nearly-bursting and been frustrated that I can’t achieve a style closer to the minimalist end of the spectrum.
I have listened to far too much Radio 4.
I have knitted my way through many, many miles of train travel, resulting in conversations with lovely (mostly old) Swiss (mostly) ladies.
I have knitted in front of far too much Sherlock and Downton.
Maybe I have just knitted far too much.
I have had several wonderful meet-ups with friends, mostly at weddings, absence makes the heart grow fonder, indeed.
I have successfully avoided the winter of the beschissenste British weather. But gone through what is apparently the worst Swiss winter anyone can remember. Although it was quite alright for my English sensibilities.
I have, of course, missed my family and friends greatly, but been fortunate in the friends I have made here.
Here’s hoping that the next year goes as well, and better, than the first.