Cátia Cesário: “I wake up every morning, take a look at the mountains and think: “This is where I want to be. This is my home”.”

Cátia Cesário moved to Switzerland because she was looking for better opportunities than the ones Portugal was providing her at the time. In Lucerne she found her “home”, a place where she feels good, safe and where she can be herself, a hard working, smiling portuguese with a great passion for music (she is singing all the time).

1 – How old were you when you moved to Lucerne? What was the main reason to move?

I was 22 when I moved to Switzerland. My husband was born and lived here for 14 years and wanted to come back. As I had no job in Portugal and the expectations were also not so good for both of us, we decided it was time to emigrate.

2 – What kind of cultural characteristics have you absorbed from Switzerland?

Gastronomy and social behaviours.

3 – Do you think your origins have influenced people around you? 

Somehow yes, because they want to know how it is to live in Portugal, what do we eat, how we talk, how do you say this or that… And in some moments, at the work for example, I associate/remember Portuguese songs and I share it with them. I think swiss people are now maybe more open to learn about us. Well, we see it in the tourism numbers…

4 – What are the biggest challenges of living in a foreign country?

The language, definitely. Even more if it is a completely new one for you. And then to adapt oneself to the new life, to the new country and to the new rules, because all countries have their own rules and laws.

mutual dna recipe interview immigrants cácá xana

5 – Name the most positive aspects of Lucerne.

Everything! It is organised, everything works here and for me it is one of the best countries in the world. It’s true, we pay a lot of insurances but anytime you need something, you get it almost immediately: if you need to go the hospital, you get a very good service, without waiting; you go to an employment center, you don’t have to spend all day there and you have your own consultant who really helps you; the people are nice and accomplished with you and they are learning to accept just like we are.

6 – During this time in a foreign country what have you learned about the human being? What sets us apart from each other?

The way we think, our mentality. There’s so many points of view in this world and we have to accept that, first, and live with it, because you can be conservative or open mind but we have to respect that and all our differences.

7 – What is missing in your home country that your current one has and vice versa?

A lot of things: number 1 – educational system!; good social behaviours; the beautiful mountains and the chocolate. In Switzerland I miss the sea (although there’s amazing lakes here) and some culinary dishes.

8 – Is there a favourite swiss dish you prefer?

That’s a difficult one because I absolutely love all the main swiss dishes: cheese fondue, Raclette and Älplermagronen.

9 – Which stereotype doesn’t make sense about Switzerland?

Actually, I think there’s no stereotypes that don’t match with the reality: swiss people are very punctual and always on time (!); they are a little bit cold in the relationships (they greet everybody with a shake of hands, you have to be a very very close friend to greet someone with kisses); they don’t like to break rules and they defend their country above everything.

10 – What were your biggest fears before you moved? 

Again, the language. I thought I wouldn’t be able to learn it and to get a better job and better options for my/our life.

11 – From the legal point of view, was the social framework easy? Do you have any advice for someone moving in?

Yes, it was everything normal and easy. My advice is: do not come without a labour contract. It is very difficult (almost impossible) to get a home and all the legal papers without that. And now they are like closing the “doors” for new immigrants because there’s many people here that don’t work and the government wants to give them a job instead of letting new people getting in.

12 – What are the greatest labor differences between Portugal and Switzerland?

From the contracts and labour conditions points of view, I don’t know, as I never worked in Portugal. But I would say the salaries!

13 – What is your favourite place in Switzerland

Lucerne, absolutely. It is a beautiful city, located in the heart of Switzerland and at the Lake Lucerne. But there’s also a small village in the mountain that I really love: Saas-Fee!

14 – Where do you feel “at home” in Lucerne? Is there a specific place?

I feel anywhere at home. My home is where I feel myself good, loved and recognised. And I like to live here, I like to be here and I don’t want to leave this country, at all. I wake up every morning, take a look at the mountains and think: “This is where I want to be. This is my home”.

15 – Do you have a favourite restaurant in Lucerne?

I love the swiss kitchen but there’s a restaurant that it takes my breath away: “Thai Garden”. It is a Thai restaurant, with gold décor everywhere, the food is fantastic and the environment inside is amazing.

16 – What is it for you to be real? / What defines you as a person?

I’m a hard-worker; honest; humble; funny; I like good parties; I never give up of what I want; always looking for achieve my goals and dream my dreams; open mind; not conservative at all; not punctual (what is an issue in this country); sleepy and always with a smile on the face and always singing (my work colleagues don’t understand how do I have so many songs in my head and how I know all the songs that come in the radio…).


São João da Madeira, Portugal


Currently Living:

Lucerne, Switzerland


cod a la bras recipe by Cácá Xana mutual dna


1 Onion

2 Garlics

4 Olive oil soup spoons

600 grams soaked and shredded cod fish

200 grams French fries

6 eggs

Parsley chopped

Dark olives

Salt and Pepper



In a big pan in mild fire, fry quickly the slice onions and the cut garlics with the olive oil.

Add the cod fish and the French fries and mix it well. Let the potatoes soften a little bit.

In a bowl, stir the eggs with a fork and add the salt and pepper

Add the eggs to the cod fish and mix it very well. Be sure that the eggs are well cooked.

Taste it and add more salt and/or pepper, if needed. Served with the parsley and the olives.

Note no. 1: if you use soaked and shredded cod fish, it would be easier and faster to make this recipe but you can use also slices. In this case, you must soak it yourself and cook it a few minutes before you start the recipe.

Note no. 2: there is in the market French fries that are ready to eat and they look smaller as the normal fries. You can use it also in this recipe and it would save you some time.

Name of the recipe:

Cod à la Brás


Country of origin:


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