Thursday, January 08, 2009

5 ways the USA and Switzerland are Different, Part I

I had lunch with a Swiss colleague yesterday and he wanted to know about some of the things I noticed while I was in the US over the holidays and compare it with Switzerland. Here’s a run down of 10 observations—both countries have good and bad, and if there’s any lesson in this it’s that no place is perfect:

1. Smoke. I think I smelled a total of maybe 3 cigarettes my entire 3 weeks in the US. It was really a pleasant change from smoky Switzerland. All the restaurants and bars in Illinois are smoke free and it was wonderful. After all, there’s really no motivation to start smoking when you can’t even stand outside the doors of buildings to do it, but are made to stand at least 15 feet from the door. Love it.

2. Public Transport. There is a lack of public transport even when there is the infrastructure for it in the US. One day over my vacation, I wanted to meet an old teacher for lunch. I was meeting her about a half hour away, right next to a train station. So I figured I’d just take the train. Ha. Even though the route was available, during the day there were trains only every 2 hours, and they did not arrive even close to the time I needed to meet her. So much for that. Switzerland is much more advanced in this regard.

3. Fat people. I hate to say it, but Americans really are fat in comparison to their European friends.

4. Stuff and the compulsion to acquire it. Americans have stuff galore. For example, my mother stocks at least six weeks worth of cereal in her cabinet. Kids have every toy imaginable. People shop and shop to get more stuff. They can shop on Sundays. They can shop at 3am. It’s a very different lifestyle from the Swiss, who have little space to put things not to mention very restricted store hours. I rarely shop in Switzerland, but somehow the minute I set foot on US soil, I just have to shop.

5. Sales. Everything in the U.S. is on sale. This year, entire stores were 50% off. I couldn’t get enough! In Switzerland sales are the exception. And most of the time if a sale is advertised, the items are 10% off. Wow. What incentive!


Jenni said...

Denver is smoke free, but when I visit Milwaukee I'm reminded that not everywhere is that way. We went out to lunch and although the resaturant portion was non-smoking, the bar wasn't. I love being able to go for dinner and drinks and come home without smelling like cigarettes.

Chantal said...

You're right that it's not smoke free everywhere in the US, Virginia included, but at least there are usually designated smoking and non-smoking sections.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin