Saying Switzerland is different from Hawaii would be an understatement. I would scribble down little notes throughout my year living as an expat, things that I found interesting, funny or odd.
I continue to get emails from My First Year Living in Switzerland blog and like any blockbuster sequel, we must go bigger. So here are my thoughts, in no particular order, all 41 of them.
1. Ich heisse nicht Gäu
I found myself in a debacle during my father-in-law’s 60th birthday party. As his countless amount of family and friends said their farewells to me, they shook my hand and said either, “schönes Wochenende gäu,” “schöne Woche gäu,” “shöner Abend gäu,” and a few times just “gäu.” I thought to myself, these people think my name is Gäu. Ich heisse nicht Gäu, ich heisse Rex. Luckily before I embarrassed myself by correcting everyone, I turned to my brother-in-law and said what/who is Gau? In which he replied, it’s a word that piggy backs a sentence that reinforces it. Like have a good weekend, yea! English does not have a word for gäu, but at least I know they might know my name.
2. 26 cantons in 1.5 years
I am happy to say that I have visited all 26 cantons in Switzerland. If you are in Switzerland, do yourself a favor and visit other cantons. There are more things or places to Switzerland than the Alps, cheese and chocolates.
3. Do you have an appointment?
I set up an appointment to have coffee with a friend. Am I becoming Swiss? Has the Swiss influenced this little brain? Am I so organized that I have to set up appointments? But let’s be completly honest here, there is one appointment for the entire month and it’s for you my friend. But rest assured you are marked down and I will be there. Without that appointment we have nothing my friend. Nothing. So be sure to make an appointment.
4. Decade birthdays
It’s a big deal whenever you have a zero in your birthday. 10, 20, 30, 40, etc in Switzerland. In Hawaii we celebrate the first birthday like a wedding. Cancel everything, break out the bouncing house and we are on till the break of dawn. Dig that hole and let’s make an imu. That’s how we do it in Hawaii. Switzerland doesn’t kill a pig for your birthday but they do sure come close. They get their poster game on. You might have stumbled across a poster hanging on the balcony or on the front porch of a person having a twentieth, thirtieth or fifthieth birthday.
5. Wait, it’s my birthday and I HAVE to bring the cake?
Speaking of birthdays. When it’s your birthday, you bring the cake. You bring the cookies. I would love to see a Swiss watching MTV’s Sweet 16 show. They might yodel in agony.
6. Mistaken identity
Living here I have been mistakenly identified as an Indonesian, Chinese and even one of my beloved childhood heroes, Jackie Chan. But I assure you I’m none of those, I’m Japanese and Filipino.
But on one glorious day, an elderly lady got it right. A Filipino lady ran up to me, grabbing and shaking me shouting, “your Filipino right? Filipino? Filipino?” And then she starting speaking in Tagalog, I think that’s what it was. I had to interrupt her saying, “yes, I’m Filipino but not from the Philippines. I’m from Hawaii.” She screamed, “Hawaii!” And then I said again, “Yes” and she quickly replied, “But Filipino right?” I said, “yes” and then apologized that I had to leave. When I left, I turned around to see she had a glow like she met Brad Pit. I get it. I’m constantly looking for Hawaii people living in Switzerland.
7. Aloha Switzerland
Speaking of looking for Hawaii people. “My First Year living in Switzerland” blog made its rounds in Switzerland and a couple of people from Hawaii now living in Switzerland reached out to me. At first I thought, wow this is cool. Only till later, I realize I had an opportunity to bring everyone together. So I created a Facebook group, Aloha Switzerland, If you are from Hawaii now living in Switzerland, feel free to join . And hopefully in the near future, we can all meet up and have a BBQ on the lake. Make some spam musubis and share a couple of green bottles. P.S. Please join only if you are from Hawaii or lived there more than 5 years.
8. Film group
My attempt to reignite my creative endeavors. I tried my best to gather all the Luzern Film makers in one place. Our first meeting was small but promising. If you want to join our group, feel free to join our group in facebook. I must look desperate trying to find friends here in Switzerland. But trust me, I’m trying to surrond myself around postivie people that share the same interest or background. So if you are an aspiring actor, writer, director, sound engineer. Feel free to join our group.
9. Who am I without a tan?
I had to ask myself this very question while looking in the mirror. Don’t judge me. I actually bought tanning oil. Sitting out on the balcony smelling like coconuts and pina coladas. I thought to myself, “What am I doing? Am I this attached to my tan? Am I the same person with a tan or without a tan? I don’t know and do I care to find out?” I’m not too sure I want to know. But if you ever bump into me and it smells like I’m about to enter a Hawaiian tropics bikini contest, you know what I have been up to.
10. Who am I without a job?
Another question for myself. We all know a person that always has a girlfriend or boyfriend. They cannot live a normal life without a significant other. And I always ask myself, who is that person without their partner. I was so proud of myself that I was never a person that always needed someone. And yet I was that person without a job. Crying in the shower, saying to myself I’m not good enough. Maybe if I work out more, they will like me. Maybe if I ironed my shirts better, they would accept me. As I scroll through all the job posting in English or German, I say this is the job for me. Waiting and waiting. Maybe they will return my text. I would rather get a no than a no-answer. Almost two years without a job, I finally accepted who I was without a job. I do not need to have a job to show my worth, my value, or my spirit. Of course this is easier to say now that I have a job. I am very happy to report that both parties are happy, myself and the company. If you didn’t read the stages of grief looking for a job in Switzerland, read my year 1 blog #14.
11. Sour gummy bears after eating spicy food
Don’t do it. Your welcome.
12. Stores closing on Sunday – Black Friday in America
Living in Switzerland has made me a better shopping planner. Having stores close so early and on Sundays. You have to plan your meals on in advance. Being spoiled in the states having stores open 24/7 made me an impulsive shopper and not a planner.
If you need to shop on a Sunday, you can attempt shopping at the Bahnhof, but be warned. It can sometimes feel like shopping on a Black Friday.
13. Black friday
Talking about Black Friday. They have black Friday here, but wait, they have no American Thanksgiving. And yet they have Black Friday. Be careful what you ask for Switzerland.
14. My emotional journey learning German
I did not expect getting emotional on my last day of school. But I did. I saw it for what it was. It was a closure of another chapter in my life. One year spent in school learning a foreign language. I have gone to technical school, immersive writing class and yet I found learning a new language to be one of the hardest things I have done. It showed how bad my memory is. I would like to think I’m a good problem solver but when it comes to memory, good luck keeping anything in my brain. My memory disappears like a popsicle on a hot sidewalk. There is no weight. No way of holding on. The harder I try the quicker it slips through my fingers. With that all being said, I am happy to report that I was successfully able to attain my B1 Deutsch Certificate.
When I graduated from B1 German. I was one of the better students. I spoke ok, I studied hard, I was motivated, I asked other students to meet every week so we could speak more German. I took an extra online course with my already 3-hour German class. What can I say? I wanted to do well. Fast forward to entering B2 German. New school and new classmates. I entered the class confident only to realize I was now the worst student in class. Going from B1-B2 German felt like going from no German to A1 German. People spoke so freely in B2. Using words, I never heard of. I asked the teacher, am I in the right class? What is going on? She quickly said, “Welcome to B2.” – FML.
15. People love football here!
16. Got Swiss bank problems?
Good luck cashing a check here in Switzerland. “Do you still write on scrolls?” is the look you will get when trying to cash a check at the bank.
Another small tip and what I had to learn the hard way is that you have to constantly monitor your bank/credit. I went from having an 800 score to a 600 because I didn’t know my bank changed its payment for a having a loan. Even though my loan is paid off, I have to pay $35 a year to keep the loan open. No email, not notification, no statement even in my online banking. The only thing I got was a credit warning saying my score dropped. I had to sign up for a free credit score to see why my score dropped. Errrrrr. Monitor your credit and bank accounts.
17. Still getting first class mail
When I moved to Switzerland, one of my biggest questions was mail. When I went to the post office and wrote my new forwarding address which was in Switzerland. I was convinced nothing was going to be forwarded to me. Close to 2 years later, I was still getting first class mail. Everything else is sent back to the sender. Letters, packages, magazines, etc. But it’s good to know you can get important first-class mail forwarded.
18. To be poke or not to be poke, that is the question
When is poke not poke? I’m not here to police restaurants but when I see poke bowls on the menu and see what their poke bowls are. I get really disappointed. I thought about this a lot and my question to the places selling poke bowls is this, “If you take away the bowl or take away the rice, is it still poke?”
If anyone does a quick google search of Poke, they will quickly see what real poke is. But it seems almost inevitable that every culture will have their food cross into the food revolution zeitgeist of the world whether it be pizza, tacos, etc.
19. I am no hero
As I slowly see my life slip away from me in front of my eyes. I see my wife gently slip into a deep blue coma and unlike sleeping beauty, she is not going to wake with a kiss. She chokes as I compress on her body like a child playing street fighter for the first time. Slapping every button and making every motion that is possible.When panic hits you like a boulder in a pond, one forgets the easiest of tasks. Some people have forgotten the number to 911 in an emergency situation. It’s like watching a person trying to get into a car in a horror movie. They fumble the keys and even drop it, as you scream at the screen, you *insert foul language.* You think to yourself that would never happen to me. Well my friend, that’s what I used to think. As I stood frozen as a deer in headlights to see if my wife was joking or for real. She looked at me with panic, with desperation for air and the universal sign for choking (grasping her neck). I ran in the back of her and immediate forgot everything. Is it the chest or stomach I must compress? I did both and when that didn’t work. I went to the good ole slap on the back. I knew it wasn’t correct but it felt right. I hit her back like I was in a video game. Combo after combo. I raised my hands like Subzero ready to rip out her spine. She was still choking so I did the next best thing I could think of. I would perform my version of the Heimlich while moving her to the front door of the apartment. My move would be to get her to the door and I would then drop her like a deck of cards and run to the neighbors screaming in horror. Great game plan I thought to myself. When I got half way to the door, my wife stopped me and whatever she was choking on was now out. I immediately went to the couch and sat in relief. I thought to myself, “man you suck as a man, as a husband, as a hero you so wish to be.” Playing back the events in my head, I pictured myself walking down the streets as strangers pointed me out, laughing and throwing tomatoes saying, “there goes the guy who couldn’t save his own wife from a piece of apple.” I would walk the streets like cane but without the adventures. I work odd jobs like fixing Pez dispensers. I played out this horrific story in my head and when I finally got the courage to ask my wife what she was choking on. She responded from the kitchen. “Water…” I yelled back, “Water?!” She replied calmly, “Yes, just water.” – FML
20. Hawaii on my mind
I got Hawaii on my mind. My first year living in Switzerland, I had no time to miss home. But my 2nd year, all I had was time to miss home. With no job and all the time in the world, it’s the most I missed home and it sucked. I didn’t want to admit it but deep down inside, I missed the ocean, I missed the sand, I missed the sun, I missed being able to go for a quick surf, I missed bbqing, I missed being able to arrive at my friend’s house unannounced, I dearly missed the food, I even missed spam. I missed my friends. Lucky for me, a couple of friend visited me in 2018.
21. 1… 2… 5 years
I said it once, I said it twice, I say it all the time. I’m not going back home for at least five years. I did not uproot my life to move across the world to turn around and go back home. I’m here in Switzerland to see Switzerland and all of Europe. People always seem shocked and surprised when I tell them I’m not going home. With all that being said, I’ll go back to Hawaii if someone pays for it. wink, wink.
22. Picking a photo style is like picking my favorite cereal to eat FOREVER
When I was a child, my mom onced ask what cereal we wanted. I would always pick Frosted Flakes. This is around the time bulk buying was being introduced and she would get these huge boxes of cereals. In my head, I would never get tired of Frosted flakes but sure enough, after a couple of weeks of eating the same cereal every day, I got tired of it. I later asked my mom to buy the variety pack, the one that included the dreaded cereal with no sugar, corn flakes. I loved the variety box because I got coco pops, rice krispies, and frosty flakes. My photography style is kind of the same. I will see a style that I love and think, well that’s it, that’s my style. Fast forward a month and my photos already start to change. I’m sure every social media adviser would want to pull their hair out and say stick to one style. Well I can’t … Sorry not sorry. I’m always evolving like a Pokémon.
23. Stranger danger
My need to have a little bromance. Talking with a friend over beers about travel, surf, photography, girls, whatever. I did not know how much I missed it until it presented itself to me in the form of a complete stranger. Sometimes I head out to the lake to take photos of the sunset with my drone. I’m always cautious and try not to bother anyone, so I end up on random hills or bushes that are off the beaten path. One day I stumbled across a person doing the very same thing. He was landing his drone while I was setting up mine. He was curious about my new Mavic Air that later lead to him telling me about who he is. He was traveling around the world before starting his required military duties in South Korea. This fascinated me so much that I asked him if he wanted to have a beer down the street. He said yes and we made our way to a nearby restaurant. As we approached the restaurant, I told him you know what, its much cheaper to get beers at the gas station, he agreed. As we got closer to the gas station, I said you know what, I bought beers and its at my house which is down the street. And of course he agreed. In my head I thought this is how every psycho killer movie starts.
At the house, I showed him some of my photos and videos as he told me about his life in South Korea. It was so invigorating speaking English again and about similar interests. My wife was working late that night but I was in high hopes she would arrive for the satisfaction of seeing her face as she sees a complete stranger standing in the living room. The very living room that her panties were hanging on a rack to dry because today is also laundry day. To my disappointment my new friend left before my wife arrived. I told her the tale of meeting my new friend as she looked at me with complete horror. How could I invite a person over to the house I just met? What can I say? I’m a dangerous kind of man.
24. OMG I have dandruff
It was a lovely Swiss summer day when my wife said, “You have something in your hair. Did you play in the laundry? There is no snow, why is there white stuff in your hair?” Wait what? When I examined my head, that 90’s head and shoulders commercial played in my head and I knew exactly what I had and needed to buy.
25. Kaffee näh
I used to drink energy drinks every morning. I’m happy to say that I have transitioned to coffee. But don’t worry I have not gotten addicted to fancy coffees or do I need a Starbucks coffee every morning. A simple cappuccino or a light coffee will do the trick for me.
Every country could appreciate Znüni. What’s Znüni you ask? A break at 9. And I’m not saying like oh we are going to get a cup coffee or smoke a cigarette. No, I’m talking drop your hammer, stop everything, we are going to have our coffee with our croissant.
27. Scarfs… Jackets… Shoes…
I own more jackets, scarfs, and shoes than I have ever owned in my entire life combined. I kind of like having different jackets for different occasions. I love my leather jacket. I love my work jacket. I try to avoid my big blue jacket but it keeps me warm in every condition. My scarf is more like a mini blanket. When I open my closet, I’m all like…
28. Cold & Spicy equals your level of manhood
When I sold hot sauce, I quickly learned that some people would judge your manhood on how you gaged what was spicy and what was not. A few people would try my hot sauce, roll their eyes, say, “that’s not spicy” and walk away like they had the cure for cancer. I always found this odd and wanted to make a super duper blow your butthole hot sauce for those special people.
Fast forward to living in Switzerland. Some, not all, will judge my choice of clothing while I venture into the outdoors. Don’t get me wrong, I can sometimes dress like I’m from Hawaii… HA I am from Hawaii. But really being able to walk in shorts and a t-shirt in the blistering cold winter does not make you more of a man than me. I’m trying my best to adapt and even attempted the Wim Hoff Method. I hope to be better in 2019 and beyond, but please don’t judge me because I wear thermals, a long sleeve, a small jacket, a big jacket, snow shoes, a mini blanket scarf and a ushanka (beanie that covers my ears). I’m so warm outside I could fall asleep, and sometimes I do.
29. Bar hopping is expensive
So, you want to grab a couple of drinks at the pub with some friends? Make sure you come ready to drop some cheddar, money that is. Drinking out is not cheap. It will average you anywhere from 6-12 franks for one beer. Furthermore, I wish there were bars with great bar food. One of the great things about Hawaii is that you can find great bar food. So good, people will go to some bars for the food and not the beer.
30. Joe Rogan = My Oprah
Podcast after podcast, I laughed, I cried, I learned, it sparked curiosity, it sparked motivation. Joe Rogan is my new Oprah. My spiritual animal. What makes him great is he always expresses himself honestly. There are no bosses, no sponsors he needs to talk too. He has what they call F U money. So, he makes these for fun because he enjoys them, not because he needs to make them. If you never heard of him, I suggest these five podcasts. One of them might spark your interest.
This particular three hour podcast, I watched twice. Never heard of Teddy Atlas? Netiher did I. Once he started talking about his father, it was over…
Paul Stamets (Mushroom Man) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPqWstVnRjQ
Matthew Walker (Sleep Doctor) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwaWilO_Pig
Elon Musk (Now infamous podcast) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycPr5-27vSI
Sober October (For laughs)- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5blSRUZpYrU
31. 2nd fridge
No one told me about this great free 2nd fridge. It’s called outside. The stuff I leave outside on my balcony in the winter should be a crime. Chicken, beer, steaks, vegetables everything.
32. Wait you live in Luzern but work in Bern?!
Sometimes I feel like people think I’m coming by horse. Yes, I realize I travel 1 hour by train. But what most Swiss don’t realize is that I use to spend 1 hour in my truck in grid lock traffic getting to and from work. Now I spend it on the train zoning out, sleeping, listening to podcasts and sometimes writing these blogs.
33. Searching for a fisherman…
I have been obsessing over making a fishing video ever since I moved here to Switzerland. I’m searching for a fisherman that has been fishing on the lake for more than 20-30-50 years. I wish to spend a day, a week, a month with him or her talking about how it was and how it is now. I am deeply fascinated with this subject because I come from a fishing family. Many weekends spent on the beach fishing, crabbing and sometimes on my dads’ big boat. I’m drawn to the water like a moth to light. Recapturing my childhood. I would love to capture a beautiful fishing story here in Switzerland. If you are that person or knows of a fisherman that lives in Luzern or near Luzern, please get in touch with me. I would love to tell their story. E-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. They don’t need to speak English, he/she can speak Swiss German. I speak a little Deutch and My wife will translate the Swiss German.
The feel and look will be along the lines like the video below.
I don’t get emotional when it comes to celebrities passing away. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s that I never shared a strong connection to that person I never met. I never imagined my heart stopping, my breath sucked out like a vortex. And then that day came. The day Bourdain passed away. The man that got me curious about other countries. The man that always told it how it is. The man I always dreamed of meeting and having a beer with. While I was dating my wife, we binged through his tv series. We laughed at his dark jokes and wished to trek the same path as him. In fact, when I traveled to Ireland with my mom in 2013, we went to the same restaurants he went too. One of the reasons why I even considered moving away from home was his admiration for moving away. I admired this man. I read all his books and read about his dark past, his motivations, his no bs for bs tolerance. I was deeply saddened by his death. He taught me to always say yes to a meal, no matter what it looked like. Eat the food, smile and ask for seconds. I will miss you bourdain. May you live forever in the hearts of be the beloved traveler.
P.S. A small part of me thinks one of my rex vs episodes influenced one of his shows. If you saw one of his interviews about the making of the show, you might know that they divulge in movies, shows, music, and everything that they can find about that country. . One of my first videos I made was in Denmark. Fast forward a couple of years, and I see a very similar shot in his episode. This was before travel vlogs were popular. In fact when I searched youtube back in 2010 on denmark, not much was out there. Any who… Yes, I know, its probably not inspired by my little vlog but one can dream. Either way great minds think alike.
This 2010 travel vlog is inspired by Bourdain.
Bourdain later went to Copenhagen and got an interview in the same ferris wheel as i did 2010. Yes I’m reaching….
Santorini’s beauty is a place that cannot be captured by photo or video. I’m sorry it simply can not, it’s that beautiful. But here is my attempt…
36. My body does not know your remedies
When I drink teas, nothing happens. When I take Swiss remedies, nothing. My body craves what my body knows. Hawaiian salt in warm water for a sore throat. If my throat really hurts, I suck on a lemon with li hing mui powder. I tried sucking on a lemon and my body was like, what are you trying to tell me? You thirsty? Drinking lemonade? What!??!? Something is comforting about taking what my Mom use to give to me. Maybe it’s a placebo effect, maybe that’s how my body is adapted. Whatever it is, my body does not respond to your teas, onions, cheeses, or warm hugs. What it wants is li hing mui drenched in lemon that makes my throat want to retreat to my internal organs.
Did I jinx myself last year? My allergies were pretty much non existent in 2017. In 2018, boy was it a tough year of sinus head aches, sneezing and wasted days. I feel very bad when its gorgeous outside and I’m stuck in my bed battling yet another allergy attack. I bought myself an expensive Hepa fitler. I bought myself all the pills that Switzerland could offer without a doctor. I searched tirelessly on the internet for home remedies. Sinus headaches that take me out for at least 2 days. With my broscience, I noticed that whenever my head got a little cold, my brain/eyeball felt like it was going to burst out like an alien coming out of my body. When we were scheduled to travel to Italy and canceling was not an option. I decided to melt my sinus headache out by wearing all my winter clothes the night before. I woke up in a pool of sweat but It worked. I was still a little ill but at least I could get out of the house. You have a home remedy that you swear by? Other ideas?
38. Do they put something in the water?
For the first time in my life the dentist said, “You are good to go, see you next year.” Wait. What? No cavities? Maybe my teeth ran out of space for cavities? Yes, its embarrassing to say but from my childhood to a grown man. I have suffered from having cavities. I brush my teeth twice a day, occassionaly floss. Ok I barely floss. However, I like to blame my cavities from having sinus problems and being a mouth breather. I swear I read something online about people having more cavities if they breath through their mouth. Either way, yeaaa to no cavities. Wait is this the same as my allergies? First year, nothing. Next year, my mouth is a breathing factory of cavities.
39. Logemol: Nothing is more motivating than being broke
From commercials, to concerts, to events to even product photography. Everything was fair game. Heck I would have shot adult content if I needed to. Nothing is more motivating than being broke, nothing. Well maybe starving. I marketed myself in ways I have not in the past. I use to let my work speak for itself and let the clients come to me. Well this year, I relentlessly promoted myself on social media, I asked around, I networked, I volunteered, I worked for free, I was 1 big mac away from standing on the corner passing out flyers. Luckily it didn’t come to that. I am truly grateful for all the customers that gave me a chance to show them what I am capable of making. Now that I have a full time job, I slowed down my marketing, but I am still open to more freelancing work. I am open to freelancing on holidays, evenings and weekends. I can also get a lot done on the train ride to work. Check out my work at Logemol.ch and drop that DM in my inbox.
Swiss Travel System
Ticket to Nowhere
British Swiss Chamber of Commerce
40. I’m walking here
Pedestrians always have the right a way in Switzerland. Always. It’s a place where you can actually yell at the car and say I’m walking here.
41. My word
Chase your dreams. Make cheesy vision boards. Set goals. Do whatever it takes to take you from point A to point B. Even if that means you fail and people make fun of you, at least you tried. Always move forward, always.
My word for 2018 was Immerse.
2018, I went head first in involving myself into different things, meeting new people, the dreaded “networking events” let’s call it what it is, meeting people and drinking. I did gain a lot from it. Friends. Customers. Business. Etc. I’m so grateful for the freelancing jobs from networking events. It took me to construction sites, to events, and event to Zermatt.
Some of my goals for 2018 were to be in the media and I was able to crack into the newspapers and social media. Setting goals and a vision is nothing new and some people don’t need to do it or find it silly. I need to do it. I love check lists. I love physical calendars with tasks. I eat that shit up.
So next year, now that I have a full time job. It’s time to go full throttle again in creativity. I hope to create a web series, a mini documentary I have been obsessing over, more vlogs, and more fun Rex Vs videos.
My word for 2019 is Create.