Elina Kazina approaches me in a relaxed manner. The 30-year-old young woman from Latvia is dressed in “business casual” and is taking her lunch break in the Spago restaurant on Zug's Bahnhofstrasse (the meeting took place before the measures were tightened of the measures against the Corona virus). This place is practical for her, because she works for a trading company next door. She has now been living and working in the canton of Zug for over three years. “I first I lived in the business hotel ‘The Nest’ on the Baarerstrasse, but my boss helped me find a nice apartment on the Zugerberg during my trial period,” she recalls. The boss vouched for her during her trial period and she is still grateful to him for that.
She appears to be very open, quick-witted and humorous. She left her hometown Riga a while ago, which is not unusual there: “In my culture, people often emigrate and go to work abroad. Sometimes for a while, sometimes forever,” she adds.
Before her time in Zug, she lived in Israel, France and Geneva. She studied natural sciences and did her master in physics. “At some point I didn't want to continue studying or to be working in a laboratory. I wanted to go out into the wide world,” she explains. She purposefully looked for job offers where she could use her knowledge of the natural sciences. She found a job in Geneva with a natural resources trading company. The fact that she knew French from her time in France was an additional plus, but the job didn't quite suit her: “I liked the job itself, but I wanted to learn German”, explains Elina. She’d visited German-speaking Switzerland several times in her free time, and she felt she liked it much better. “Everything is much more structured and organised than in the French part of Switzerland,” she says with a laugh:
“Latvia was a German colony for a long time. Maybe that's why I felt more comfortable in the German part. “
After a long conversation in English, we agree to continue speaking in German. Kazina's high German is not perfect, but very good. The conversation is fluid and we understand each other.
Elina Kazina sits in her favourite restaurant, the Spago in Zug.
She loves the mountains in Switzerland. The highest point In Latvia is 300 metres above sea level. "I don't think I could ever live without the mountains again," admits Elina Kazina. That’s why she’s often found on the Zugerberg or Lake Zug in her free time. What she has noticed about the Swiss is that many appointments with friends are made well in advance. Spontaneity is lacking. "It takes a certain amount of time to develop deep friendships," says the Latvian. That's why she is in several meet-up groups, and now has three to four good Swiss friends, two of them from Zug.
She is committed and active in the organisation of Toastmasters Club Zug - a group of people who want to improve their English through intensive conversations, and who also want to meet new people. "I also practice netball once a week at the cantonal school," continues Elina. This is a mix between volleyball and basketball. “I wanted to try something new. To meet new people during an activity, and not just with an evening drink in a bar.”
She has never experienced any xenophobia in Zug
She tries to go home once a year. “My mother still lives in Latvia, because she is the managing director of a large company there. My father and brother live in England,” she says. She hasn’t thought about whether she wants to live in Switzerland forever. But she does feel totally at home here. The thing I miss least is the winter in Latvia, with temperatures around minus 30 degrees,” says Elina. In addition to fondue and raclette, she loves Zug kirsch (cherry liquor). "I always have to take a bottle with me on business trips," she says, smiling again. She would like to travel to the cantons of Jura, Glarus or Appenzell as soon as possible, because she hadn't been there before. “Because of its size, Switzerland is ideal for weekend trips to other cantons.”
She has never experienced any xenophobia in Switzerland: "The only unpleasant situation was when I was new in Zug and wanted to buy garbage bags. Unfortunately I had no idea how to explain that to the cashier in German,” she recalls. They talked at each other for a few minutes, but had no common denominator. "The language was actually the biggest and only hurdle when I moved to Zug," she says. She has quickly overcome this hurdle.
In the “New in Zug” series, the “Zuger Zeitung” portrays expats and newcomers. The contacts were provided by Sandra Herzog, founder of the meet-up group "Meeting new friends in Zug".