Friday, November 26, 2010

The Black Sheep Return

Maybe you've noticed. Our friends, the black sheep, are back to being beat up on posters everywhere from the Zurich HB to your own backyard. The vote to deport foreign criminals is back on Nov 28.

Now. Let me get something straight. In principle, I have nothing against the idea that foreign criminals who commit certain kinds of crimes should be deported. Yes, they've broken the rules and why should Swiss people pay to lock them up?


What I have against the whole argument is the way the SVP party presents it. With propaganda. With fear. A fear so great that it makes even non-criminal foreigners like me feel dirty. And a fear that makes its own sweet citizens, my neighbor included, put double locks on their doors and install security systems. All of this in a country as beautiful and crime-free as Switzerland.

I also have a problem with the issue because it includes the word "foreigner". What defines a foreigner? If I have a child in Switzerland and they grow up here, are they a foreigner too? Just because they don't have a Swiss passport? It seems like the foreign criminal issue is just an another excuse to discriminate.

What do you think?

To read more, visit my piece on Fear in Switzerland, over on swissinfo.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It could have been hell. But it was Swiss.

In some countries, things just work. You pay for them. But they work.

Airlines, for example. This weekend, I flew Swiss from Zurich to Nice. Unfortunately, Nice wasn't very nice (it rained almost the entire time I was there) but Swiss was.

We had boarded the plane in Zurich and we were ready to taxi when the pilot realized something was wrong with the plane. In any other country (or with any other airline) this would have meant crazy delays and hassle, turning my weekend getaway into an extended airport stay. But with Swiss, this problem was taken care of like clockwork. "Naturally, we have another plane for you and we will be ready for take-off again in 45 minutes."

Yeah right.

But this is Switzerland. Within 45 minutes, as promised, we were on a new plane, a bigger plane, told we could spread out and make ourselves comfortable (yay, exit row!) and we were ready to take off, arriving in Nice only about 40 minutes behind schedule.

Then the French took about another 40 minutes to get us our luggage. But that's another story. A French one.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Dear Frau: Why is my visa taking so long?

Welcome to another edition of Dear Frau. It’s kind of like Dear Abby, except with an international twist. If you have a question about life in Switzerland, don’t hesitate to contact The Frau. Then maybe your little Frage will be in the next edition of Dear Frau.

Dear Frau,

I'm trying to move to Bern but the process has been halted due to my work visa taking an unheard of amount of time to process. Did you run into any problems like this when you moved there? I keep calling the embassy to find out if it has been accepted, and they just tell me that it's still processing. I'm at my wit's end!

Any other tips would be greatly appreciated as well! I'm really enjoying reading your blog and I'm sure it will be a nice tool for me to use when I finally make it over there.


Visa Vixen

Dear Visa Vixen,

The Frau isn’t sure what an unheard of amount of time is to wait for a visa in Switzerland, except that an unheard of amount of time is normal. I mean, think about it, if good things come to those who wait, then Switzerland is worth its weight in gold. How else could the prices here be so insane?

But The Frau digresses.

Here's the thing: Bureaucracy is slow and stupid on purpose. This is due to one of two phenomenons:

Porn. (It's more exciting than your paperwork.)



Look. In most countries, foreigners finish last. In Switzerland, it’s even worse because Swiss people have a train to catch. They have to go to lunch at noon. They have to do their laundry on Wednesday the 17th or wear dirty clothes for another three weeks. They are tired of being on time. And can you blame them? Punctuality is so ingrained in the culture that they can’t wait to slack. And who better to slack with than the foreigners?

So yeah. The Frau is not surprised that you’re still waiting on the visa. But look on the bright side. In the meantime, you’ll have plenty of time to read past columns of Dear Frau for more tips on moving to Switzerland.

Anyone else out there have advice for Visa Vixen?

Do you read Swiss Info’s Write On blog? For the next two months, The Frau will be blabbing over there as well as on One Big Yodel. God save the Internet. Click here to read the latest, where The Frau takes it upon herself to apologize to the entire confederation.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

What the Swiss think of America

Wow, it's all of America in one big logo, courtesy of the American Bar & Restaurant in St. Gallen. (Note: Believe it or not, the American Bar & Restaurant is actually a Swiss chain--they are also in hotspots like Brütten and Mutschellen.)

Of course, the Frau has been to the American Bar & Restaurant–on her birthday, of course. But you wouldn't expect any less of her, oder? For her first impressions of the restaurant, click here.

Now let's see. What do we have in this fantastic logo?

Football (an Illini player, they have good taste).
Big buildings.
Big birds.
Big rockets.
Big boats.
Big bridges.
Big parks.
And a bunch of presidents that are larger than life.

I'd say they did a good job summing up America. The only thing that could possibly be improved would be the addition of a big lawyer right in the center of it all (did you know a 4-year old can now be sued for negligence?).


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