Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Why the Swiss love the USA

In honor of 4th of July last week, the Swiss newspaper Blick am Abend featured six reasons why they love the U.S.:

1. Free thinking. Do whatever you want. There's more room for creativity in the U.S.

I agree that the U.S. feels much more open creatively than Switzerland. It's been said that the Swiss are both prisoners and their guards. There is some truth to this.

2. American hot dog.

Can't say I'm very excited about the American hot dog. Give me a slice of deep dish pizza instead.

3. Doggy Bag.

Yes, love the doggy bag concept, although in Switzerland I don't usually have any food on my plate to take home since the portions are much more reasonable (in size, not price). But when I do have leftovers, I would appreciate a doggy bag, especially considering that next plate of Chinese food will set me back at least CHF 25.

4. Dream factory. Home of the stars and anyone who wants to be one.

I think what the Swiss are forgetting here is the concept of competition. It's easy to stand out in Switzerland without being that talented because there aren't that many people to compete against. The U.S. population is 311 million people versus 7 million in Switzerland. So yes, if you make it big in the U.S., you probably make it big worldwide. But the chances of that are like playing the lotto.

5. Music business. The music divas of the U.S. are found on Swiss TV and radio stations like none other in the world.

This actually disappoints me. I wish other countries would play their own music.

6. Smile please. We wish our service was as friendly and happy.

Amen. Would someone in this country please smile and learn that customer service does not involve toll numbers?

What do you think? Do you agree these are reasons to love America?


Allison L said...

The Friday before the fourth the Blick Abend had the top 5 American Style songs. I found it amusing off the to of my head it was Born in the USA and American Idiot.

I like the better customer service in the US. Far as music I did manage once to watch a hour of Swiss music videos on MTV late a night. It was fairly interesting and I found a few nice songs too.

Kimberly said...

I've never had a problem getting doggie bags for leftover meals. They just call it "take away". :)

Tanya D said...

I missed the article, so thanks for posting this. I'd replace the hot dog (seriously, is anyone suffering for lack of hot dogs in CH?) with BBQ. They love to grill here, but no one is churning out proper Texas or Tennessee BBQ. I'd love to get my hands on some 18 hour slow smoked brisket. Mmmmm.

Unknown said...

I guess if you are ever missing American hotdogs, you could always go to Ikea...But I *do* miss relish on a burger.

M'dame Jo said...

I agree with Tanya. Hot dogs? Really? Especially in the swiss german part, land of the sausage. Replace it with BBQ, and I get it.

By the way, did you this add?

It says: Americans are fine gourmets. At least when it comes to BBQ

I understand the other ones.

I think the creativity/competition is more subtle than that. Mentalities are very different: swiss people value work and discipline, but not... success. There's some kind of diffuse shame when it comes to succeeding. Where you come from is more important; to describe it in a very simplified black and white way: you were born in a rich family, studying was obvious, you got it easy through your parents connections, you're sold. If you come from a less privileged background and you want to work you ass off to get a good position, you're shallow. Whatever you do, it's not seen in a good way to say : Well, I didn't have it easy, I really worked hard all this year and today, I have a good job that I love and pays well, I'm proud of myself.. I'm not even sure you're allowed to think it. I have the impression that in the US, there aren't that many mixed feelings about succeeding. And that really moves people forward (that and the latent optimism).

I also noticed something with my short experience in California, in a big high tech firm. Every time I was bringing results, I was given the impression by my supervisors that I was actually contributing to a project in a meaningful manner and I was thanked for my latest results, etc. I've never experienced that in Switzerland. You come in, you do your work, you get money. And the only times your work gets comments, it's because you're late or you're screwed up. As a result: you're much more motivated in a company where you treated (even if it may by a simple management manoeuver...)

Hope that makes some sense.

Kristal said...

I absolutely agree with you on everything except the smilling thing. I am having a hard time with this US 'smile" thing. It bothers me and makes me feel so tense. Why would strangers smile at me ?! From a very early age I was taught smilling is for people you know only. Also, in my culture, people from very poor and isolated villages smile and great strangers and people to whom they have never been introduced. So, smilling and greating strangers means ,to a Romanian, you have never got out of your village. I know it might be strange to other people, but this is how we feel. We even have a saying : " She was smilling like the dumbest girl in the village " ... And I also rememebre lots of comments about people who kept smilling : "Why is she/he smilling like this all the time?!Is it maybe she/he is stupid or maybe she/he doesn't find us respectable enough..."

I also rememeber a job interview when I rejected a candidate because she was looking into my eyes and smilled and smilled and smilled ... For god sake, a professional is supposed to be competent, reliable and intelligent , not a smiley face!

But I got explained how US people think and feel about smilling and I can deal with it, it doesn't bother me at all. I find it hard, though, to replicate it when we interact.

Elisa @ Crazy, Amazing Life said...

I absolutely disagree with the hot dog, yuck. But boy, do I agree with number 6!! The waiters in Switzerland makes restaurant dining a lot less appealing IMO.

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