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Janet, creator of My Twenty Cents, quit her successful career as a CPA to move abroad. She writes about blogging tips, personal finance, career and living abroad. You can also find her on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest. Read on to see what she has to say in this blogger interview about her epic journey all the way from Canada to Switzerland!
Where are you originally from?
Hello! My name is Janet and I am originally from Toronto,Canada. I lived in Toronto for my entire life up until I was 26 when I moved to Switzerland.
What made you move to Switzerland?
I moved to Switzerland for a number of reasons. First, I was getting sick of my life and job in Canada. After I finished my Bachelor in Accounting, I spent 6 years working as a CPA. I didn’t see myself doing that for the rest of my life. It was time for me to make a change.
I have to say that everything fell into place. I travelled to Switzerland in 2014 while I was soul-searching and immediately fell in love. I knew I wanted to go back there one day. Then I met a Swiss guy who I dated for a little while. It was him who gave me the idea of applying to Swiss universities. I did that, and within a few months I was accepted with a full scholarship that covered all of my living expenses and tuition fees for 2 years. I really couldn’t turn down such a sweet offer! Oh, and as an FYI, I broke up with that guy before I decided to move to Switzerland. So my decision to move was 100% for myself, not for some guy 😉
How important do you think it is to learn the language of the new country you move to? Do you have any tips for the same?
Switzerland is an interesting country because it has 4 official languages – none of which are English. The majority of the population (63%) speaks Swiss German (bearing no resemblance to the High German spoken in Germany), followed by French (23%).
I live in the French-speaking part of Switzerland and I consider myself very lucky because I already learned French growing up in Canada. The language didn’t pose a huge problem for me. Sure, there are some subtle differences in vocabulary and accents, but overall, it didn’t take me long to adjust to the French spoken in Switzerland.
I personally believe it’s extremely important to get to know the local language. I moved to Zurich (German-speaking city) for 3 months and I really didn’t feel integrated at all. I couldn’t read the signs or understand anything people were saying to me. I didn’t enjoy the experience as much as I do while I’m in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, and I’d say language is the major reason for that.
The best advice I have to give for learning a new language is to enroll in a course (there’s plenty of great courses online if you can’t find a course in your city). Also, I have used Preply to hire language tutors via Skype. The lessons are very high-quality, tailored to your specific needs. On top of that, the prices are very affordable!
Also, try not to be shy when speaking a new language. Everyone knows it’s not your mother tongue and most people will be understanding if you make mistakes. I’ve heard that drinking a bit of alcohol helps you to let loose and start talking in a foreign language 😉
What are the 3 things you love about living in Switzerland?
There are so many! If I had to pick three it would be:
- The Nature: The scenery in Switzerland is majestic. Everywhere you go you see beautiful rolling hills or lakes. I am totally in love with Switzerland’s landscape. And going hiking or skiing is just a short trip away from any large Swiss city.
- The Location: Switzerland is located in the center of Europe and you can travel to any major European destination in less than two hours. If you can score cheap flights through RyanAir or EasyJet, you could also make a very cheap weekend trip. I actually love travelling within Europe now because no matter where I go, I’d actually be saving money as compared to staying in Switzerland! Oh the irony!
- The Public Transit: Public transportation in Switzerland is so convenient and I never feel the need to have a car. This is very different coming from Canada where you basically need a car to survive. In Switzerland, you can get just about anywhere by train or bus – even to the middle of literally nowhere! The connections are well-planned out so you never end up waiting for longer than 15 minutes for the next connection.
What are the 3 things you do not love about living in Switzerland?
The most obvious one would be the high cost of living in Switzerland. As a student, you really cannot afford to splurge on luxuries. I remember when I first arrived in Switzerland and being just totally shocked by the prices. For example, a McDonalds meal could cost you close to $30. But I think the high cost of living is worth it because you really do get a high quality of living in Switzerland as well.
Second, I’ve found it quite difficult to meet Swiss friends. Most of my friends are international students like myself. I found that a lot of Swiss people already have their close circle of friends from their childhood and aren’t really looking to meet foreigners like me.
Last, I really do miss my friends and family from back home. It’s sad but I have lived in Switzerland for 2 years and I haven’t had a single friend come to visit. I totally understand though, Switzerland is quite a long way from Canada, and it’s an extremely expensive destination for a vacation.
What do you miss about living in your home country? How do you cope with it?
I do miss the luxuries of living in a big city sometimes. The population of the Greater Toronto Area is around 6 million. Switzerland’s entire population is only 8 million, and their largest city, Zurich is around 1 million. My city, Lausanne, has a population of 150,000. So of course, one cannot expect the same kind of luxuries as one would find in a large, cosmopolitan city. I miss being able to go shopping late in the evenings or on Sundays. I also miss the variety of international food that I could get in Toronto.
What’s your favourite place(s) to visit in Switzerland/Europe?
Actually, in Switzerland, my favourite place to stay is near the Swiss Riviera. In all of Switzerland, I find the scenery in this area to be the most beautiful. You get a perfect view of the lake, the mountains, and also vineyards.
What would be your advice for people moving to Switzerland?
Make sure you apply for your visa early! I had to wait about 4 months to get mine. There’s a lot of paperwork to submit. The entire process was super stressful for me because I had already booked my flights in advance and didn’t know if the visa would come in time!
Also, I’d advise you to save as much money as possible because life in Switzerland gets very expensive.
Why did you start blogging and what do you predominantly blog about?
I started blogging in March 2018 as a side project. I was doing some research one day and landed on a girl’s blog. She blogged about travel and I was amazed by how much money she was making off her blog. Then I started doing more and more research and I figured that blogging probably isn’t as hard as it looks.
I mostly blog about personal finances – how I save money as a foreign student living in a really expensive country. I also offer blogging tips and tips on how you can move abroad.
Would you ever consider blogging full time? If yes, why?
Yes, definitely. I started this blog in hopes that I would never have to return to the corporate world again. I love blogging and it doesn’t feel like “real work” to me.
Do you have any tips for new bloggers in your niche?
I would advise you to stop doubting yourself and just do it! It’s never too late to start a blog. And eventually you will definitely be able to make money – I already started making money in my third month blogging.
I think it’s important to be completely honest with readers. Don’t try to lie or deceive them just to make some quick cash. Also, don’t get too hung up on numbers – page views and the like. They will come! Don’t let low numbers affect your mood and just keep on blogging!
Thanks Janet, for sharing your incredible story!
I have done an interview over at Janet’s blog, you can find it here- Interview With Indian Girl in Germany.