The long road to becoming Swiss

June 10, 2020, 2 Comments

It only took 979 days. That’s longer than the siege of Leningrad and almost as much time as the Brexit negotiations. But the wait was worth it: I am now Swiss!

I started the whole process back on 4 October 2017 when I registered for the two tests that are compulsory in Canton Bern. One to test my written and oral language skills, a test that is now compulsory everywhere in Switzerland. The other to test my knowledge of Switzerland, a test that is a written exam on Cantons Bern and Aargau but not elsewhere.

Once I’d passed those, I could formally apply, filling out the long and detailed form (education since kindergarten!) and wading through the necessary red tape. I had to prove that I existed and that I wasn’t married. I had to show that I had neither debts nor a criminal record. I had to have paperwork relating to my tax, social security, residency and birth. All slow to process and with a fee every time.

Then came the interview, 90 minutes long which seemed to go okay. And then the long wait as my application went through the various stages of municipal, cantonal and federal approval. It took so long, I had to provide some paperwork again because the first lot were out of date.

There were hiccups along the way, of course. Being self-employed didn’t make things easier as I had to show I could support myself. Neither did being British as Brits have no proof that they are single. And Bern is one of the cantons where it takes more time, costs more money and has more hurdles along the road to be Swiss. But I got there.

If you’re the numbers type, then you might like to know that 979 days is 23,496 hours , or long enough to binge-watch every episode of Game of Thrones 335 times. Not that I’m about to.

Instead I will relish my newly official Swissness. I will vote every single time – it’s one of the best reasons to be Swiss. Any Swiss person who doesn’t vote should hang their heads in shame. I might even learn to play Jass better so that it’s enjoyable rather than painful.

There are some things I will never do despite being Swiss:

v Drink Rivella, eat Fleischkäse, grill a cervelat or enjoy fondue.

v Learn to yodel, watch Schwingen or go skiing.

v Think that Heidi is a good book or believe that William Tell existed.

But I might go and buy some red shoes.

2 Comments on "The long road to becoming Swiss"

  1. Tartempion Wednesday June 10th, 2020 at 01:03 PM · Reply

    I’m 629 Bernese days in and have only a letter and two large, paid bills to show for it. But I’m still curious and hopeful 😉

  2. Courvoisier_Alexandre Saturday September 19th, 2020 at 10:17 PM · Reply

    Mister Bewes,

    I learned a huge amount of facts about my Homeland thank to your book Le Suissologue.

    Congrats for your Swiss becoming! (except against the fondue).

    It took 979 days, knowing that you was already seasoned to Switzerland. So let’s imagine what it could took to an ignorant… pretty long, let’s say.

    Let me know: at the written knowledges test about Switzerland, did you make an error or some, with all your background? If yes, how many?

    A. C.

Leave a Comment