Noémie Schwaller has started her own fashion magazine in London. In an interview conducted by email, she tells swissinfo.ch why she left Switzerland and how she views her homeland today.
swissinfo.ch: Why did you leave Switzerland? And when? What were the first few months like in London?
Noémie Schwaller: After having worked as a design and architecture journalist, I went to Britain in the summer of 2010 to do a Masters in Fashion Journalism at the London College of Fashion.
September is also sunny in London but winters are difficult if you are used to heated, well-insulated flats. Earlier on I had travelled all over the world in my quest to get away from Switzerland and its narrow-mindedness. I have several places I have called home, but Zurich remains the real one, even after all these temporary ones.
swissinfo.ch: Your final dissertation became the award-winning fashion magazine DASHexternal link, which you can buy in Switzerland and of which you are the editor-in-chief. How did this all happen?
N.S.: It was a wonderful journey and the result of hard work. I can’t sugar-coat it. But the creativity, the environment and the feedback, is something I wouldn’t miss for anything.
I was very lucky in that I was able to make use of synergies with wonderful people and develop exciting things. It would be great if the world would be open to this in other areas too.
swissinfo.ch: Was it clear from the beginning that you wouldn’t go back?
N.S.: The planned 15 months became 84. The seven-year itch almost upset my relationship with London, but it didn’t in the end. I could of course still apply for British citizenship, but now “Brexshit” has happened...
swissinfo.ch: What was it like leaving Switzerland?
N.S.: It was about time.
swissinfo.ch: What is the political situation like after Brexit? London in particular was against it.
N.S.: It is still sceptical, unsure and dishonest.
swissinfo.ch: What is more attractive about England?
N.S.: I’ll answer this question in relation to London: the openness and courteousness of a population that is multi-ethnic, diverse and continually being thrown together. There is also an unimaginably large number of good exhibitions and excellent restaurants.
swissinfo.ch: What are your views on Switzerland now that you are out of the country?
N.S.: Cute, but strong, and unfortunately often unfriendly and narrow-minded. It’s really regrettable that the Swiss people do not seem to have understood what they've got. The smaller the problem, the bigger it seems to those affected. It's good to look at the bigger picture and to think about what you see there.
swissinfo.ch: Do you still vote in Switzerland?
N.S.: Always. I thinks it’s a citizen’s duty. It would be really stupid not to take part in the luxury of direct democracy, like we have in Switzerland. I grew up in a politically active environment and I want to continue on with this.
swissinfo.ch: What do you miss about Switzerland the most?
N.S.: Many things: the fresh air, the funny turns of phrase, the summer on the Limmat in Zurich, the short travel times, the comfortably high quality of life, walking in the Alps, my nearest and dearest, the cleanliness and last but not least, the big, well-isolated flats. I don’t miss Swiss chocolate because you can get it at every airport these days.
Give global Switzerland a face! Label your Instagram photos with the hashtag#WeAreSwissAbroad.
Here at swissinfo.ch, we’re eager to showcase you and your experiences in the form of portraits, videos and anecdotes. We’ll repost a selection of them via our Instagram account.
We hope to meet lots of interesting Swiss citizens abroad while browsing the#WeAreSwissAbroad stream.
Translated from German, swissinfo.ch