In honor of the Frau’s six-year Swiss anniversary last week, she discussed three reasons that living in Switzerland can be as sweet as the chocolate. But like everything—even chocolate—there’s a darker version.
This week, it’s all about things in Switzerland that can make you as crazy as a clock tower that dings every 15 minutes 24/7. Oh wait, the Frau’s been living right across the street from that very clock tower for six years. That’s 96 dings a day, 35,040 dings a year, and 210,240 dongs in the Frau's short Swiss life, people. Enough to drive the Frau to sometimes say, there’s no place like the good old USA.
Three Things That Make the Frau Never Want to See a Cervelat Again
|Don't come to Switzerland to learn German|
If the Frau could do it over again and actually have a choice in the matter, she would live in French-speaking Switzerland. By now, she’d most likely be totally comfortable and fluent in French.
Living in the German-speaking section is much more complicated. You must learn two languages if you really want to fit in. High German for reading and writing and Swiss German for speaking and listening. The Swiss talk about how they want foreigners to integrate, but let the Frau tell you, it’s not easy. She was fooled into thinking if she learned High German she’d be fine and Swiss German would be its natural conclusion. But instead of understanding Swiss German after six years of High German, all the Frau has perfected is a good smile and nod.
Luckily, the Frau is not alone. Swiss German appears to frustrate practically all foreigners who try to integrate as well as most of the 36% of the Swiss who speak other languages. The Frau herself is having another wave of disillusionment after working so hard for the last six years to understand High German. Sure, she can read Blick Am Abend and understand cashiers in Germany, but for general everyday life in German-speaking Switzerland, the Frau still feels like an outsider.
The Frau has never seen a group of people more concerned about drafts. And it’s that time of year again. Time for the Frau to sweat the moment she walks in the office, open her window by her desk, and find it closed by someone the minute she gets up for a coffee.
A Swiss colleague once tried to convince her (when she was pregnant, no less!) that it would stay cooler if she wouldn’t keep opening the window. She doesn’t see the logic of this at all. It’s the same on trains and buses. People here would rather sit in an oven than in a convertible. A breeze doesn’t make you sick, people. It’s all that coughing without covering your mouth…but that’s another story.
Lack of Lines
Nothing like moving to the world's most organized country to have you pining for a good old-fashioned line. Here's a secret for the uninitiated: the only people who stand in line in Switzerland are expats. The Frau has lost count of how many people have just barged in front of her at cheese counters, when getting on trains, and even when she was waiting in “line” at McDonald’s when she was 8 months pregnant. The Frau asks you, Swiss people, how you can have a bus that connects you to the train that connects you to the cable car that connects you to the mountain restaurant in the middle of nowhere exactly at noon for lunch but not be able to form an orderly line at the department store when buying your socks?
What keeps you in Switzerland? Or what makes you never want to hear an alphorn being played in a Tunnelfest again?