Lockdown? 4 Things I did to Stay Happy - Olliechinny
Swiss Expat Life

Lockdown? 4 Things I did to Stay Happy

I was just talking to Vince the other day about 2020 really started on the wrong footing…that we really never got down to doing anything before this whole lockdown all began. And GUESS WHAT? We are now already a QUARTER through the year! Before we know it, it’s gonna be Christmas already. T.T

Lately I’m also finding it harder to read the news. Almost every piece of information seems to revolves around the coronavirus, rising death rates, or depressing reports about the global economy…There’s just so much toxic negativity spreading around doom and gloom.

So I decided that it’d do me some good to just shut out all these news apps. And instead pen down things that made me happy last week. Things that took my mind off worries and anxious thoughts. I hope that sharing this post would help you feel the same way too 🙂

1. Spending time with nature

While the Swiss government highly recommend citizens to “rester à la maison”, thankfully there’s no outright restriction on taking walks, so long as social distancing is maintained. So over the Easter holiday weekend, we joined two of Vince’s colleagues and took a 30 min drive out to the nearby mountains for some hiking.

That’s like the most exciting activity that happened during this entire #stayhome month! So thank God for nature.

We did a hike up to Dent de Vaulion. The trail was not daunting at all, actually. Including rests, and photo-taking along the way, it took us around an hour or so to reach the summit. I clocked 16,000+ steps that day, the highest in a long while and walking certainly never felt any better!

Dent de Vaulion isn’t as popular as compared to the other Jura peaks…and probably only the locals would know about it. But the sceneries from the top is unbeatable. On a clear day, you get a paranomic view of the French Alps, including the Lac du Joux and Lake Geneva. Great to just pack a lunch, have a seat a the top, and take it all in.

After the hike, we drove somewhere further for day-camping. We found a perfect spot surrounded with vast fields of canola flowers right, and it was absolutely. stunning.

Just look at the bright cheery sea of yellow. As though it’s screaming “SPRING IS HERE!”

We spent the afternoon with barbecued meat for lunch, chatting idly with one another, and lazing under the sun for afternoon naps…I couldn’t ask for more. It really was the perfect Easter holiday with good company!

2. Binging on Money Heist

I have been binging on Netflix lately, and the best drama I’d watched so far has got to be Money Heist! Admittedly I’m quite the laggard, since I’d only started on Season 1 a week ago, whereas Vince had already finished watching Season 4 all in 1 sitting. But boy, am I’m officially hooked! The plot is SERIOUSLY addictive, and each episode always ends with mind-blowing cliffhangers that keeps me up all night chasing after the next episode to learn what happens next! I’m at season 3 right now, and so far it hasn’t disappointed my expectations.

Least likeable character by far has got to be Tokyo, with Alturito not far behind, grrr! My favourite robber? Psychotic and charming BERLIN!

3. Learning about the Swiss culture of trust

I’m constantly in touch with my family and get updates about the COVID-19 situation in Singapore. Straddled between my home and Switzerland, it was very interesting to compare the differences between both governments’ responses in fighting against this pandemic. If there’s one thing I’d observed and learnt, it’s about an important value cherished in Swiss society. Which all boils down to one word: Trust. And I honestly think nothing reveals more about the Swiss, their culture and their attitude to life better than this.

First, just to cite random examples from everyday situations over the past year. In Switzerland, I noticed that people would just hang their coats at the entrance rather than over the backs of their chairs. That’s something I’d NEVER do in the past. But here, no one worries about having their coats stolen.

Sometimes you’d find baskets goods for sale displayed out in the open, completely unguarded, not even a CCTV in sight. Just a money box placed expectantly at the side. Even for some online shopping, you can expect goods delivered to your doorstep without so much of paying even a penny deposit. The bill will just arrive a few days later, and the retailer knows that you will pay up.

All because in such a society that operates on trust, you don’t ask questions. You simply expect everyone else to be as honest.

This culture of trust reflects itself strongly in the midst of this pandemic. The Swiss would likely deem it outrageous, should the government impose compulsory stay home measures. Neither are there spot checks to see if you are abiding by your 14 day quarantine after returning from overseas. There might be patrol police going around, but mostly just to ensure people out are abiding by the 2m apart rule. The measures here may seem lackadaisical, yes. But they are never forced upon.

From another perspective… it might stem down to the Swiss government trusting its people to follow the health recommendations. To not break the rules. In return, the people trusts the authorities will not evade into their privacy and their daily lives.

On one hand, I think that our SG government have displayed incredible leadership during this time of crisis. That imposing the recent circuit breaker measures, while somewhat draconian, are necessary to protect Singaporeans. Yet on this side of the world, I’d also witnessed how having less intervention works out equally well. In fact, on a positive note: Switzerland is looking to ease the lockdown measures in phases from April 27 onwards.

It’s my personal reflection that there’s no right or wrong judgment as to how a government should act towards its citizens. Or how much individual freedom needs to be curtailed for the greater good. Each country responds differently based on the health situation within its borders. Another significant part also hinges on its culture and existing social capital. Switzerland happens to adopt an approach that entrusts more social responsibility on its people. I’m relieved about this, and I am not taking this privilege for granted!

4. Singing ” Home” as a virtual choir

Two weeks ago, I saw a post on Facebook by Voices of Singapore, with an open call to Singaporeans at home and abroad to unite and sing “Home” as a virtual choir.

Credits: Voices of Singapore

I remembered so fondly the times spent with my church choir singing hymns and worship songs together. Immediately I knew that I wanted to be part of this beautiful initiative: to offer my voice to sing for hope, strength and love during this challenging period for the country.

Despite everything conducted solely online, Voices of Singapore really did an incredible job coordinating the whole process. They prepared 4 detailed video guides with conductor Darius Lim, who went through and practised the SATB parts (I sang Alto!). For the recording, they also provided specific instructions right down to the minute! All to ensure that the submissions are synchronised with the same timings and stitched together to form the video.

I always knew that music has the power to unite. And through this initiative, the 900 of us Singaporeans did just that. Physically apart across 26 countries, but singing in unison for our home: Singapore.

The video aired earlier on Tuesday, and when I heard it I had GOOSEBUMPS all over, because it’s so touchingly beautiful! “Home” has always be my favourite NDP song, and I’m sure it’s the same for many other Singaporeans too.

I invite you to watch and listen to the song below! Can you spot my sister and I? 🙂

(hint:watch closely at 0.47, 2.02-2.08, 2.59 and 3.45!)

These were my 4 happy things. And what about you? Did you find anything that made you happy during this #stayhome week?

Share with me in the comments below, I’d love to know!

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  • Alan

    Really enjoyable reading your blog and life in Switzerland. Keep up the good work.

  • Caroline

    Thank you for sharing these positive, uplifting ideas 🙂

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