“Germans, living in Switzerland, do not feel comfortable and find it difficult to integrate”, my parents read to me on this recurring topic from a corresponding article just recently. I myself am a German. And I do not agree.

Granted. I am living more than 26 years in Switzerland, first in the Canton of Solothurn, then in St. Gallen, Zurich, Basel, Bern and then in Zurich again.

After a “resinous” entry, I quickly made new friends, met a lot of new people and got invited to all kinds of events: to parental dinners (Who is this new schoolmate of my son?), to parties in garages or under highway bridges (no details), to chilled afternoons at the Aare (river) or to photo excursions.

Yes, the entry was difficult. Next to verbal assaults and insults, my younger sister got beaten up from their mates on her way to school, simply, because she is a German. This has been the only physical assault, the verbal ones decreased continually with time. Or it might be that I do not hear them any more and just ignore automatically.

This may be because I do not define myself as a German. I am a human being, whose life led to Switzerland. I am partner, daughter, neighbor, professional, coach or blogger. I get enthusiastic about science fiction, philosophy, psychology, subjects of the society, oil painting, photography, comics, books in general or about various music styles from all over the world. Since I do not define myself by my nationality, I am approaching Swiss, Italians, Frenchman (and -women), Englishman, Chinese or people of whatever nation as humans. Because I am interested in them as humans.

I also think, that one’s own personality does play an important role. No matter, if one emigrates to Switzerland, or to Australia or Timbuktu. To approach people openly, to have real interest in them, to smile from time to time or to understand the local conditions of the community, helps to establish relations. Not only in Switzerland, but also in Timbuktu.

We are more than our passport. We are individuals with different roles, interests and tastes. Openness for our fellow human beings and personal initiative open doors. And do not forget to smile.