Jaime Freire came to Switzerland for professional reasons. His findings: the Swiss are more reserved than the Spaniards. But he nevertheless thinks that these cultural differences can be enriching for both sides.
This is the second time that Jaime Freire (40) has come to Switzerland with the intention of settling here. He emigrated from Spain to Switzerland – to Lausanne – for professional reasons in 2010. He moved to Austria four years later, and then returned to Switzerland. This time, he came to the canton of Zug, and the native of northern Spain has now lived in Baar for five years, and works on the border of the city. He prefers to cover the short distances between home and work by bike, and, as a software developer, he also has the possibility of working from home.
His profession was one of the reasons for returning to Switzerland after a detour to neighbouring Austria. "Early on, I set myself the goal of gaining as much international experience as possible in my field," he explains. "I love my work." And although Zug is not a vibrant city of millions, he can pursue this need here. "As much international professional experience as possible" – does that mean that he is planning to set sail again soon and leave the canton? "No," he replies. "I feel comfortable in Zug – more comfortable than in Lausanne. Everything there was more impersonal. But I want to stay in this small canton."
Language has to do with integration
Freire speaks German well, and only occasionally has to search for words. His Spanish accent is unmistakable, however. When asked about his language skills, he replies: "Learning German was important for me. Not only because it makes it much easier for me to communicate with the authorities, for example," he pauses, ponders and adds: "For me, language also has a lot to do with integration."
It wasn’t that easy for him, however. German and Spanish differ in many respects. But he nevertheless took the time to study.
Software developer Jaime Freire has travelled a long way.
Although Jaime Freire is kept very busy with his work, he has found time to explore the canton and make connections. To integrate himself. This is not always easy, he admits, because the people of Switzerland are more reserved. "Emotions play a much bigger role in Spain. We laugh louder, talk faster and approach each other more uninhibitedly," says Freire.
He becomes visibly excited when he speaks of his home in the south:, he gesticulates with his hands, his eyes glow. Shortly thereafter, he admits: "Initially, I had a lot of homesickness."
Even now, he’s drawn back to Spain every five to six weeks. And that's why he keeps noticing the cultural differences. But he can gain a lot from the differences. "I think we can learn a lot from each other," he ponders. In his experience, this works very well if both take a step out of their comfort zone.
In general, Jaime Freire is a globetrotter, and he likes to travel to nearby foreign countries on the weekends. For example, by train to Milan. Or Munich. Travelling is an important hobby for him. He’s recently also taken up riding a motorcycle, and he appeared for the interview in style, wearing a bike jacket and with a helmet in his hand. Even with all his travelling, however, he still has enough time to get to know his new home canton and Switzerland.
His favourite place in Zug? The lake promenade between the Fischerstube and the Seeliken badi. There it is "quieter, more relaxed, peaceful". The lake is a place he enjoys very much. He finds nature very important, and does a lot of hiking. Not only in Zug, but throughout Switzerland.
He wants to get to know Switzerland better, to discover the Jura area or stroll through La Chaux-de-Fonds. But he’s not yet visited these spots in Switzerland. "I’ve travelled a lot, through different countries and cities. And, with Zug, I’ve found a really beautiful city to live in."
In the series "New in Zug", the "Zuger Zeitung" portrays expats and newcomers to Zug. The contacts were provided to us by Sandra Herzog, founder of the "Meeting new friends in Zug", meet-up group.