Today I want to talk about the best Christmas present I received. We will have to dig deep into the last ten years for that one.
My family moved to Switzerland in 2006 when I was nine years old. I did not want to live there; I thought to be perfectly happy where we had lived before. Switzerland has a historically based hostility towards Germany, thus I was bullied for my nationality and my different way of speaking. It was tough in the beginning.
Being German in Switzerland is something that occupied me for a long time. I never switched to the dialect. I never enjoyed jokes about Germans. In fact, I even moved back to Germany this summer. It would be a lie, if I said it had nothing to do with the challenges I’ve had been facing for ten years. Going through hard times and prejudices because of my nationality made me cling to it much more.However, I did make friends in Switzerland, really good friends. Most of them I have been close with for a long, long time. They do not care about me being German. With them I went through so much this last decade: so many adventures, ups and downs.
Switzerland did not only give me friends but also a world class education, many aareschwumms, a lot of cheese, countless good memories and overall opportunities only such a privileged country could have given me. Switzerland is beautiful, and in ten years it gave me all I needed and much more.
It became my home.
Two years ago I decided to make it official and become a Swiss citizen. Not because I need it, but because I want it to completely feel at home. I want to not only feel Swiss but be Swiss. Living in Switzerland was always an inner conflict for me between my German and my (unofficial) Swiss side. I moved to Heidelberg this summer, among other reasons to reconnect with the former and thereby fell more in love than ever with the latter.
I cherish being German, but I am now able to joke about my compatriots, too. The same way I treasure being Swiss and teaching the dialect, which I am perfectly capable of by the way, to my dormies here. For me it took moving back to Germany and being teased for being ‘so Swiss in the cutest way’ to finally know that Switzerland is just as much my home as where I and my family are from.
This Christmas my parents got me a fondue set. My friends (Swiss and German alike) made fun of me for getting as excited about it as I did. Eleven days late I received another gift: After ten years of living there and two years of horrid bureaucracy I am now officially a Swiss citizen. With that I get a bright red passport and the right to vote, but most importantly I am no longer a foreigner in neither of my homes: I am a Swiss citizen, who right now could not be happier to be in my cozy little dorm room in Heidelberg.
The greatest moment of my new dual nationality was how equally and genuinely happy my Swiss and German friends and family were for me, because they all know how much this means to me.
I don’t know where the future will lead me to: Germany or Switzerland. I can now say more freely than ever I feel at home in either of those countries.
Thanks for reading.