WENDY IS OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST IN SWITZERLAND: ‘WE CAN SEE THE PISTE FROM HOME’
Every year, around thousands of Europeans emigrate abroad. How do they like working in the new (temporary) country? And do they actually still want to return to their homeland? This time, we speak to Wendy Bart in Switzerland.
- Who: Wendy Bart
- Function: occupational therapist
- Where: Interlaken, Switzerland
- Abroad since: December 2021
How did you end up in Switzerland?
“During my occupational therapy training, I heard about people who had found jobs in Switzerland. On LinkedIn, I had been approached by a recruiter for that too, but I hadn’t responded. Then I jokingly tagged my boyfriend in a vacancy to work as a physio in Switzerland. He was immediately incredibly enthusiastic.”
But you had to think about it for a while?
“Yes, I immediately thought: how are we going to do that? We will live far away from our family and we don’t speak German. But at the same time I was curious. We love mountain hiking immensely and my boyfriend is a big winter sports fan. Gradually we became more and more enthusiastic and then we started talking to a special recruitment agency. That’s how we ended up a village near Interlaken last December and now we both work in the hospital around the corner.”
“The Swiss find our level of education very high, so they are happy to hire occupational therapists from the Netherlands.”
Why are Dutch occupational therapists in such demand?
“They are scarce here. The course is very long and you can only take it in one place in Switzerland. In the Netherlands, you can do it in many more places. In addition, the Swiss find our level of education very high, so they are happy to hire occupational therapists from the Netherlands.”
Meanwhile, how is your German doing?
“When we heard we were going to move, we immediately started using a language app. Later, we took an online course from a German school in Berlin. The Swiss accent is still very difficult to understand, but you pick it up quickly. To my colleagues, I usually ask if they want to speak very slowly, or in High German.”
Are you enjoying your new job?
“I have always worked in rehabilitation centres before this, a hospital is very different. I am deployed on the ICU a lot, which is very interesting. Normally the physiotherapists did this work, now we really do it together. I get a lot of freedom to organise the work in my own way. That’s incredibly fun.”
What did you have to get used to when you came to Switzerland?
“The prices of life. That still scares me after more than two months. For example, groceries are very expensive, for 500 grams of minced meat you pay 7 euros in a flash. Even going out is pricey, but we do it. If you go up the slopes, you don’t sit there with your cheese sandwich.”
“I had never been on winter sports before, but I turned out to love it super.”
What do you like most about your life there?
“Our house is very nice, as are the surroundings. It is very quiet and we live super close to the mountains. I can even see the slopes from our living room window. If it stays like this, I never want to leave. But of course I miss my family and friends. And I miss the beach, I can’t get a breath of fresh air there on Sundays anymore. But when you see the view here, you soon forget about that.”
What do you prefer to do on weekends?
“We ski a lot. I had never been on winter sports before, but I turned out to enjoy it super much. Some slopes are still a bit challenging, luckily I get lessons. The other day we had friends over and then we really took a skiing holiday. Everyone said: ‘That you live here, say.’ We still have that ourselves every morning when we look outside.”
HIGH DEMAND FOR CARE STAFF
As mentioned, well-trained physiotherapists or other medical personnel are in high demand here in Switzerland. If you are looking for a job and are open to a new experience in your life, I would definitely recommend Switzerland.