Friday, January 09, 2009

5 ways the USA and Switzerland are Different, Part II

Here is a continuation of yesterday’s post about the differences between the USA and Switzerland.

6. Prices. I bought a pair of Nike running shoes for $32 at the Chicago Outlet Mall. Later I realized I had bought the wrong size so I returned them for a full refund AND then was also offered a 20% off coupon if I shopped again in the store in the next 2 hours. So I got the right size of the shoes for even cheaper—this time they were $25 with my coupon. In Switzerland, not only would I have not been allowed to return anything, they also would have cost $150 for the same thing.

7. The food. Most Americans eat terribly. The number of processed foods and fruits and vegetables made to last weeks is a little disconcerting after learning to buy things the same day I’m going to eat them lest they go moldy in Switzerland. In America, a loaf of bread can last two weeks. Very different from my Swiss bread I have to eat the same day or feed to the birds. The American food sure is convenient. But my stomach paid the price.

8. Personal space. Yesterday on the tram in Zurich, a guy was literally standing right over me and coughing and hitting me with his bag every time the tram turned. In Swiss stores, people push you to grab what they want. But in America, people give you your space. They wait for you to stop looking at something in a store before they barge in. They would never stand so close to you that you were touching if there was an alternative. It’s really great to feel not so closed in all the time. I definitely prefer American-sized space!

9. Dress. Americans are slobs. They parade around in sweats, running shoes, velour outfits, and huge sweatshirts. I loved it and took advantage of wearing what is considered pajamas in Switzerland to parties in the U.S. It was really great to be a slob for a few weeks. The Swiss dress much nicer, wear fitted clothes, and leather shoes.

10. Smiles. Americans are very friendly and smile a lot. Usually this is a nice change of pace, but I would get the occasional cashier or stranger that wanted to know my entire life story behind why I didn’t want their store’s credit card. In Switzerland, people don't smile much at strangers. The cashiers don't smile. They say “hello” and “goodbye”. Sometimes they ask you if you have the store's points card. But if you don't, that's the end of that.


Ritsumei said...

I'm glad you posted these! It's always interesting to see how things are in other places. I must say... I like American sized personal space too. Those trains in Japan... whew.

Chantal said...

Glad you're enjoying the posts. I also find it interesting how many differences there are--even between Western nations.

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