Michaela Merz


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Vreni and her story


We three girls always met at the same café. Here we also met Vreni. Vreni worked in the café and was incredibly pretty. Blond hair, blue eyes, a perfect trim figure and a stunning laugh. She was always extraordinarily friendly and accommodating. We appreciated her and her service highly and reflected this in our tips. We got to know more and more about her. She was the youngest of a large farmer’s family. She had 5 older siblings, but not a complete education. She had two jobs in cafes, which together made up 100%, but no pension fund contributions, because neither job exceeded the necessary threshold. Continue reading


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American expats in Switzerland


My American friends, who have recently come to live in Switzerland, tell me stories that make you laugh or reduce you to tears depending on how you take them. If one is familiar with Switzerland and the New Yorkers, it is obvious where the daily discussions arise.

The Swiss neighbours are very quick to complain that one is too loud. Very frequently they don’t do so directly, in that they ring the door-bell and try to discuss the problem. No, if for example it is 10.00pm, that is 5 minutes after there should be no noise, the noise-sensitive neighbours call the police. And the Swiss police answer the call.

Or they put a note in the letter box of the American miscreants. On the last note, which a lady lawyer from New York received, was written: “Please take off your street shoes in the apartment!”. I asked her whether she wore shoes with high-heels, but she denied doing so quite strongly. Then I wanted to know whether at home in the night she dances or carries out other strenuous activities. Nothing of the kind. She even has carpets on about 80% of the floor. She is a lady, 50+, and that all sounded very plausible.

New York is noisy. Day and night. Quiet you will find nowhere. Therefore, their way of dealing with noise and peace is really very different from ours. A barking dog a floor above or below does not disturb. Road works by day or night they are used to. That also doesn’t disturb them.

The next touchy issue is car driving. They are easily caught for speeding and parking fines in Switzerland. My friend from New York says that they are afraid to open their letter-box and in the meantime she will no longer drive into Zürich by car. She finds some rules quite confusing and often is fined for mistakes. For example, in the USA all traffic lights show the same colour. They are all on red or all on green. In Switzerland, on the other hand it is not unusual that the right light is on red and the left on green or there is a green arrow next to the red. For my friend a horror, because she is not sure how she should react. So she has picked up a few 250 franc fines for driving through red and that because she had crossed the white line.

The next is waste disposal. That is a science of its own and in the meantime you need to attend a course to know what you should or may do with one’s own waste.

But the New Yorkers I know are pleased to be here and enjoy the high quality of life. And I am happy that they are here, because with them the local environment is more colourful and perhaps a bit more tolerant and not always so grim.


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Why I’m not afraid of big animals


When I was 5 years old, I used to spend the summer with my mother and grandmother in a tiny village of only 5 houses. It was the last summer before I started school. My biggest issue at that point was that people always mistook me for a boy. I was very small, weighed only 20kg and had short hair. I truly looked like a boy but felt entirely girly. My environment didn’t always notice that.

That summer, a guy named Roy rented a room in the same house. I have no idea how old Roy might have been. Maybe 50? Could have been 60? He was ancient for me but really funny. Continue reading


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Christmas


As a child I looked forward to Christmas for weeks on end. It was mysterious, auspicious and magical.

As the mother of small children, I was happy. To see one’s own children’s happiness was indescribably wonderful. The presents, the decorated tree, the perfect scenario. All that was important.

Now my children are older and although Christmas is wonderful, they have lost the magic of belief. Continue reading


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The story of the three brave princesses


As my youngest is growing up like an only child, it is frequently necessary to take someone with us so that he has a colleague to play with. As long as one is playing, wandering and doing something, homesickness is not a topic. But in the evening it can become critical, that’s why I tell stories. That is how the following story of the three brave princesses came about. Continue reading


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Wild garlic


I find the plant fascinating. The first time I encountered it is years ago in my childhood. My best friend said then that she would take me to a secret place where a magic plant grows. But I mustn’t tell anyone and had to swear on the life of my parents. Whow, that was something! My fantasy began to run at high speed and I tried to imagine the place and the plant’s magical power. Colourful pictures of a jungle full of danger shot through my head and I felt as if I was in the presence of a magical herb that up to then had remained hidden from the world but has the power at a stroke to free the world of all diseases. Continue reading