Bernadette’s Take #27

The Swiss guy who misses wearing a cowboy hat in the car

Arno Cantieni from Unterägeri/Switzerland

ArnoCantieni1 - CopyArno loves wearing cowboy hats, but will we find a picture of him
wearing one, I wonder? (Photo Arno Cantieni)

Some people have the legendary „uncle in America“.
Others have one in Canada and visit him every now and then.

That is what Arno Cantieni, a 35-year-old computer engineer, was doing quite frequently during the past two decades.

In 2010, he traveled to Canada and the United States with his girlfriend Daniela and together they toured some national parks with their truck and camper.

Then they returned to Canada and drove from Vancouver to Quebec and back. The couple decided they wanted to spend a real winter in Canada. The city of Whitehorse in the Yukon territory was their choice because they had spent 9 weeks up north in 2008 and liked it.

ArnoCantieni6 - CopyArno’s notion of a real Canadian winter!
(Photo Arno Cantieni)

They found a room in a house with other people and hunkered down for the winter.

Arno’s girlfriend got a job instantly, and eventually they decided to immigrate to Canada. They sold most of their stuff in Switzerland and were back in Whitehorse in June 2012.

ArnoCantieni9Only 1500 kilometres to Whitehorse? That’s easy for two
Swiss who cannot wait to get back to Canada. (Photo Arno Cantieni)

While his girlfriend worked at a photo store, Arno explored the wilderness on his dirt bike. He loved it.

But then he found out that he was not ready to settle down in Whitehorse. The couple separated and Arno traveled to the U.S. again and toured more national parks.

ArnoCantieni7 - CopyArno got cold feet, despite all his Arctic outerwear…
(Photo Arno Cantieni)

Today he lives in Switzerland again and says: “If you are back from abroad and you don`t feel great in Switzerland, mentally and financially, you do something wrong.”

He thinks Switzerland is absolutely beautiful and has got everything you need. And lakes and mountains everywhere you go.

The only thing Arno is missing: You cannot go to the back country with a dirt bike – at least not without getting into trouble.

IMG_7364 - CopySwiss mountains and lakes. And meadows – but not for Arno`s beloved dirt bike!
(Photo B. Calonego)

He says: “Even when Switzerland is more expensive, I still can save more money which allows me to travel.” But right now, Arno lives with his parents and is looking for a job.

He says did not feel that comfortable with the Canadian mentality.

Let us find out why with an

UPC (Urgent Phone Call) to Arno Cantieni:

Arno, what on earth did you miss in Canada?

I think the Canadians I met were not really open. If something was wrong, they did not tell me. There was a negative mood but I could not put my finger on it.

Can you give me an example?

I was working on my laptop at the communal dining room table. I asked them whether they wanted me to put it away. They said, no, no. But nobody sat at the table, they sat on the sofa to eat!
There was conflict in the air, but nobody wanted to talk about it.

ArnoCantieni8With dogs it is sometimes easier to communicate. They
just bark, whether in Switzerland or Canada. (Photo Arno Cantieni)

Did you address conflicts yourself.

Yes, but when I told Canadians openly what bothered me, they looked at me as if had slapped them in the face. It probably was a verbal slap for them.

But don’t Canadians like to talk to people, even strangers?

Oh, for sure. But this mostly applies to chit-chat. Being closer to people, it became clearer, communication is not as direct and open as I was used to from Europe.

So you did not expect this cultural difference?

Not, not at all. You think, Canada is a Western country, very similar to Switzerland. But actually, this is not true. On a personal level, there are differences, and if you are not aware of them, you are flabbergasted.

ArnoCantieni4 - CopyArno held a gold bar in Canada, but he still prefers Switzerland.
Well, there is gold, too. You just have to know where to look for it ….
(Photo Arno Cantieni)

Obviously, you must be happy to be back in Switzerland with the direct Swiss?

Yes, I love it here. But Swiss people have a tendency to be pessimistic. Sometimes they don`t want to see the good stuff. In Canada, you take things more easily. I don’t want to let myself put under stress. If I’m late – so what?

What else was positive about Canada?

I liked the fact that in Canada you have the wilderness at your door step. And I got to know a lot of people and I am still in touch with them. There is a positive attitude: We can do it!

What struck you as odd when you were back in Switzerland?

The narrow streets and the small cars. You don’t have enough room above your head in the cars. I cannot wear a Cowboy hat in a car anymore!

Arbio-Cantieni5 - CopyThere is certainly more room in this truck and camper – but
what are you doing here exactly, Arno? Looking for
cell phone reception? And still no cowboy hat! (Photo Arno Cantieni)

P.S. If you know an interesting person, or if you have an interesting story to tell about yourself, don’t hesitate to contact us at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s