Us-Feeling In a conversation with Maria Magdalena

It's the end of April. For us at Valeriana this means only one thing: time for spring cleaning! Our digital inbox is full of requests for window cleaning and everything else that belongs to it.  Among them Anna from Wipkingen. The details are quickly discussed and a suitable employee is found: Maria Magdalena. And what started with a spring-cleaning quickly developed into a friendship.

We met Anna and Maria Magdalena for juice and cookies, and talked to them in a wild mix of Spanish, English and German, about how they found their way to Valeriana, what they particularly like about Switzerland and Wipkingen, and what they both wish for the future.

You both found Valeriana at the same time Maria Magdalena joined us in the middle of March and Anna made her first booking at the end of April. How did you both learn about Valeriana?

I read about you in a flyer in L’Ultimo Baccio, directly opposite a small grocery store. Pretty much at that time, I was looking for someone to clean my apartment. I've had experiences with cleaning helpers before - not necessarily bad ones, but with companies, whose way of working I didn't like. When I saw your flyer, I had a good feeling right away!

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Maria Magdalena: I found Valeriana online. I had already worked in the cleaning area before. The very next day, I got a call and was invited to a job interview! I thought to myself, “Ok, my German is not that good, but I will try it anyway!” Then I had an interview in English, that was great, and I had liked it from the beginning. I could also immediately start with the first home, then with the second one and so on…

Anna: Was our apartment your first?

Maria: No, my first client was another woman, but her name was also Anna (everyone laughs). Her apartment was in the center of Zurich

Anna: Hey (laughing)! This (refers to Wipkingen) is also the center of Zurich

Anna, how long have you lived in district 10?

Anna: Good question… How long have I lived here? I have lived about three years now in my apartment. I am initially from Aargau, but I had lived in Zurich before. 2014 in Wipkingen for about two, three years. The neighborhood here has always been my favourite neighborhood. I found other stations nice too, but I still came back here.

What do you particularly like about Wipkingen?

Anna: I like that it's less urban here than in the center. It’s a bit similar to a small village. If you live here, you always meet people who have always lived here. I think that's pretty cool! I also enjoy the proximity to the forest and to the river. And I love the Röschibachplatz and the Nordbrüggli - the best place and bar in Zurich! Wipkingen simply has good vibes.

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And what brought you to Switzerland, Maria Magdalena?
I came to Switzerland on the 25th of August. At first, I hadn’t planned to stay. I have family here that I often visited, and I have always like being here. I like the atmosphere, plus the people are cool and friendly. My family always thought: “Hey, Switzerland is great, you can also stay with us, learn German and so on". So at some point I decided to actually move here. First I lived with my cousin and his family in Kloten and for some time now I've been living with my boyfriend in Windisch.

You were born in the Dominican Republic. Do your parents still live there?

Maria Magdalena: No, not anymore. In 1996, my mother decided to move to Italy and since then, she has been living there. In 2001, my three older sisters and I joined. My cousins eventually went to Switzerland and started their own families. I lived in Italy for about 18 years. 

What do you especially like here?

Maria Magdalena: I would definitely say the organisation! The Swiss are very well-organised in everything they do. For example, it surprised me that people wait until everyone has gotten off the bus before they get on. I thought, "Wow, there is a lot of respect here". Everyone greets each other here too, I think that's nice. Everyone says "Grüezi" nicely. :)

Anna: That’s really funny! When I moved here to Zurich from Aargau, I experienced it quite differently. Normally, I always say, "Grüezi, Grüezi..." and here a few people said to me, "You don't have to say Grüezi every time you see someone at the bus stop. That's not how we do things in the city" (laughs)! 

Maria Magdalena: Okay (laughs). I have been lucky so far! Here, everyone respects and greets each other, and where you are treated respectfully, you automatically feel good. In Switzerland I feel welcomed, comfortable and safe.

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You also use your two-week cleaning appointment to learn Spanish together, Where did you learn Spanish, Anna?
I learned Spanish "en las calles", so "on the streets" in Barcelona. My sister lived there for a long time and I often visited her. I also spent a month in Colombia. Moreover, I had about a year of Spanish at school, but that was a long time ago. I think that's where I learned the least.

And which languages do you speak besides Spanish, Maria Magdalena?
Besides Spanish, I also speak Italian. I also learned quite a lot of English in school. I learn Portuguese from my boyfriend because he’s from Brazil. Right now, I am learning German, also through Valeriana!

Anna, what do you appreciate most about Maria Magdalena?

That she’s a very nice and happy person. I always look forward to seeing her, and I am thankful to have met her. What she tells about her is very interesting. We have a close relationship with each other. And what I also appreciate, of course, is that everything looks so clean and tidy when I get home. Maria Magdalena really does a very, very, very good job! My roommate Steffi says pretty much every Tuesday: "Yay, tomorrow is Wednesday again, Maria Magdalena is coming"!

Maria Magdalena: Thank you very much Anna! Anna is super cool, she has a beautiful appearance and is very intelligent. I feel very comfortable here, and I am happy to work with her. She is also very considerate and sometimes leaves a piece of chocolate or another snack for me on the table.

Anna: For more strength and energy at work (Both laugh)!

Why did you choose Valeriana back then?

Anna: I find the whole concept great. Household chores are so important and should be fairly paid. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. As I mentioned, I had other household helpers before. But they worked for companies whose conditions for employees were bad. I know that Valeriana never takes advantage, even if someone urgently needs a job. On the contrary, you really help people to integrate well, you give them a chance! And that is what is best for all of us, the society, in the end! Working with you is simple and you are all so nice! It's just a real pleasure!

Maria Magdalena: Valeriana is like a second family to me. You are always there for me. I appreciate your attention and your work that you do. I can imagine that it's not always easy for you to communicate with people that don’t speak German so well. But you help us where you can, teach us and give us the opportunity to visit language courses. Work was very important to me. Especially when you are new in a country, it's not easy to find a good job. Thank you for everything!

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What has changed since you are at Valeriana?

Maria Magdalena: Through Valeriana, I learned a lot of German (a joyful "Whoop Whoop" from everyone in the room). And also my quality of life has improved because I got many new opportunities through work!

And for you, Anna?

Anna: Every other Wednesday when I come home I have the best pleasure - and even more when Maria Magdalena and I get to see each other. It's great to have met someone new and discovered her as a great company! I also do a lot of advertising. When someone says "I'd like someone to help me around the house, someone nice," I always say "Go to VALERIANA." I recommend you guys whenever I can!

What do you wish for in the future?

Anna: That all of Zurich works with you (laughs)! Just that this kind of work is much more valued for what it really is. And that it becomes normal to pay the necessary price for it. I wish that we will continue to work together for a long time and that you, dear Maria Magdalena, will stay with us for a long time!

And you, Maria Magdalena?

Maria Magdalena: I wish to continue working with you so that I can further develop myself. I also want to learn a lot of German, so that one day I can speak as fluent as you two (everyone laughs)!

Is there anything else you would like to ask each other?

Anna: Maria, would you like another cookie?

Thank you for your time and the inspiring conversation, dear Maria Magdalena and dear Anna!

To be continued
  • Since we are already at it, could we introduce Nardos to you

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