I still don’t believe that I actually live in Switzerland.
Over the past three months, Justin and I have slowly started to settle into Swiss life. After weeks of searching and months of waiting, we found an apartment and moved in to our own place. By now, we’ve learned the public transportation system and have picked up bits and pieces of (Swiss) German. We are meeting people through Justin’s company, church, and chance encounters. We try to comply with the rules of Swiss society, such as Zurich’s strict waste and recycling laws. We get out to the mountains on the weekends, and in the grand scheme of things, we don’t have much to complain about.
But it still doesn’t feel like home.
I remember when I first moved to Madrid in 2008. I had just graduated from university, and I was thirsty for new experiences. I took great pleasure in being on my own and learning the Spanish way. I went to work, adapted to the delayed dining schedule, and adjusted to the madrileño accent. I was proud of my boldness to move abroad before my 22nd birthday, but Madrid held only a little charm for me alone. The loneliness, dark and twisted, threatened to blind me from potential enjoyment and adventure that awaited me every time I stepped out onto the lively streets of sleepless Madrid.
Although, I did have a couple of girlfriends from the start, my community didn’t fully reveal itself until Thanksgiving dinner. I remember leaving my friends’ apartment that night with a belly full of turkey and an overflowing heart. I remember walking away with an inexpressible gratitude for those girls (were we women then?) who I had met seemingly at random. Somehow, I knew with a profound understanding that a deep connection of lasting friendship had been sealed through the sharing of that meal. For me, that was the moment when Spain became home.
Today, I am reminded that “home” is so much more than an apartment, a neighborhood, a city, region or country. Home is my community – the people in my life who walk with me, beside me. Those who desire depth to our relationship, where we can listen and share in the joys and sorrows we encounter as we journey through life.
Already, I see glimmers of community here in Zurich, but I acutely wish we were experiencing it fully. I take strength and encouragement from those who are far from Switzerland yet staunchly remain within the context of my global community. I am reminded that those friendships did not form overnight… and neither will future relationships.
And so, I wait. With a hopeful patience that as time goes on, community will reveal itself to Justin and me as we walk through the stages of our Swiss life.
And then, just then, Switzerland might become home.