smack

swissplateTo say it’s been a struggle adjusting to life here would be the understatement of the century. It’s been tough. When we moved here, we were told it was going to be a two year thing and then we would be off to the states again. It wasn’t necessary for me to work, so I never went on a job hunt. We kind of lived our lives in limbo. We had a simple but nice apartment and lived with the bare minimums. Our social life was a bit on the unhealthy side, in that we didn’t have much of one and depended on each other.

Today, and 3 years down the road, some things have changed for the better and others are still a bit of a struggle. We now live in a beautiful and new home and I even have a car  to help me get around at a more timely manner. Let’s face it, public transport in this country is actually awesome, but it can be time consuming having to be on a bus and train schedule. The city I used to live in was very convenient for public transportation and getting to the grocery store and what not, but now I live in a very small village that requires much longer bus rides, especially to get to a main train station. Having the freedom of a car has made life much better. I’m now able to run some errands I wouldn’t normally consider just because of the long bus rides.

Not having to work can be quite nice. Whenever we want to travel, it’s made that much easier because I don’t have a job to take time off from. Quite honestly though, I’m tired of not working. When I look back at the life I had back in the states and the one I have now, it’s quite depressing. I don’t feel productive. I don’t feel like I have a purpose. If I were a mother, perhaps society would look differently at me because I would be a “stay at home” mother. It’s a lot more accepting for someone to stay home for the children, but when you are someone like me, you quite often get the question of, “why aren’t you working?” and my personal hated favorite, “What do you do all day?”.

What bothers me the most is knowing that I was 13 when I wanted a career working with animals and I worked very hard to get there. Today though, what do I have to show for it? It’s been three years since I’ve worked with animals (apart from caring for my own pets of course). I’m beginning to understand how women feel when they give up their careers to have children, just minus the children. I’m quite angry really. What do I have to show for myself?

My anger is made worse by added frustrations. You see, silly me, figured a career working with animals is a bit universal. No matter where I go in the world, there will always be a zoo, a wildlife preserve, a shelter, etc. Well, it turns out the Swiss are very particular about animal care. In a way, I quite admire them for this. They have a lot of rules and regulations when it comes to animal ownership, which prevents a lot of people not fit for caring for animals to have them. On the other hand, it puts me right back to square one as a commoner. Someone like me, who has graduated from the only exotic animal training and management program in the world, with a degree in Exotic Animal Training and Management, Animal Behavior Management, and Wildlife Education, with years of experience in working with all species of animals, is not qualified for dog care and dog walking in this country. Unbelievable isn’t it? I have to have a particular piece of paper from this country in order to get paid for dog care or dog walking. To be fair, getting this piece of paper just takes some money and a few courses in dog training. But, someone like me shouldn’t need to do that. I know how to work with dogs. Regardless, I don’t actually want to work with dogs, this is just a really good example of Swiss standards.

I recently applied for a zoo keeping job. I wasn’t surprised when I wasn’t even accepted for an interview. I asked what I could do to help me get hired because I felt like all my education and experiences counted for nothing. In a way this is absolutely true. Should I continue with the way things are, I don’t think I’ll ever get an animal related job. However, I think I have found a solution, so there is a silver lining somewhere. I was pointed to a website to help me get my education and training recognized in this country. I have submitted my paperwork and just have to wait for the process to continue. I think what I’ve done is done a “pre-application”. The people in charge have a look at what I am potentially presenting and then things will go on from there. At least, I really truly hope they will. If they come back to me and say “sorry, we can’t do anything with this. We don’t recognize your prior education.” I’m not sure what I will do. Right now, this is giving me hope and I’m actually a little excited to find out where this will take me. I know there is a particular certificate to earn here that is specific to animal care and is sought after by the majority of zoos. I’m hoping my education qualifies me to be handed this title and if not, at the very least, I’m hoping it advances me in the quest of obtaining this certificate.

It’s been a smack to the face really. Here I was back in the states, going to the only school of its kind, in order to work with animals. With my education came lots of experience in many different facilities with a variety of species. Back in the states, I would be a valuable asset to any zoo, aquarium, etc. But here in Switzerland, I’m regarded as unqualified and incapable of understanding the responsibilities of animal care. Completely frustrating and unbelievable.

© Semi-Charmed Life

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6 thoughts on “smack

  1. How very frustrating!! I’m sorry to read that. I wholly sympathise too though; since I decided to be at home full time, I’ve had that question of ‘what do you do all day?’ thrown at me, or I’ve been called a ‘lady of leisure’ which really drives me nuts!!!!! Good luck with your pre-application xx

    • At least the positive thing is that you made that choice. I was kind of thrown into it. Not having to work is definitely nice and has its advantages, but there is always “work” to do around the house and what not. I’m just feeling like I’m not quite ready to be a housewife and I’m certainly not ready to call it quits on my career. Hopefully, my applications will all come out positively and then my next struggle will simply be to find work with my limited german! Yikes!

      • You’re right, it was a choice and it was the right decision for me and my family and I think I’m probably older than you..I hope your applications are successful and that you can enjoy a new challenge x

  2. I really enjoyed reading this Sylvie. I’m on the other side of a “stay at home” woman. I worked hard for several years, had a child and chose to stay home with him. By staying home I really lost touch with the “professional” world and with the progression of technology (especially in this city). When I decided and needed to get back out in the workforce I had fallen so far behind it’s was like starting over. Now I’m back in it and quite frankly, I’d rather be home! I look forward to seeing how all this plays out for you. I hope all your hard work and accomplishments in the States will be recognized and you obtain this certificate. Sounds like a hard nut to crack!

    • You bring up a very good point. As the years have ticked by and I’ve not been working, I’m also worried about that counting against me. I mean, positive reinforcement training techniques will never change, but the care of exotic animals certainly does. I’d hate to get to a point where there is just too much information for me to catch up on, so facilities choose someone else instead.

      Also, us Swiss are certainly nuts. (says the half Swiss)

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