The Frau is celebrating eight years in Switzerland today. In honor of that milestone, she’s put together a list of eight things she loves about Switzerland. Today she’ll begin with the first four.
This may sound strange coming from someone who hails from a country that bills itself as “The Land of the Free,” but the Swiss people are much freer on many accounts than Americans. As one of the world's oldest democracies, Switzerland can teach the rest of the world a bit about how to do democracy well. Number one tip? Don't allow only money to talk. The Swiss people have power no matter how much or little they earn because they have the freedom to propose a law themselves and force a national vote on it, as long as they can collect 100,000 signatures.
Number two tip? Don't let lawyers rule the world. When this happens, as sadly is the case in the United States, it has huge implications for freedom on all levels of society. But when lawsuits aren't allowed to run rampant, it means healthcare costs are controlled (because doctors don’t need expensive insurance for sue-happy people), it means children learn personal responsibility young (two-year olds carry candles in parades in Switzerland and it’s no big deal), it means dogs can hang out in restaurants and public transport, and it means people can decide for themselves whether to dive into a swimming pool or walk into a construction site. When a society takes responsibility for its own actions instead of being allowed to blame someone else for them, true freedom reigns.
Two: Public Transport
The train connects to the bus that connects to the cable car that brings you to the middle of nowhere in time for lunch. But the broader result of a transport system that works is a less-stressed society. When you are 99% certain that your transport will be reliable, dependable, and hassle-free every day–even on days you need to work late–then you have less stress in your overall life. An easy, traffic-free commute has huge implications on quality of life.
Three: Vacation Time
Time off is sacred in Switzerland. You do not mess with someone’s vacation time here. You do not expect someone to work on Christmas Day. Or the week after Christmas, for that matter. And employers are required by law to provide a minimum of four weeks off for everyone. Crazy? Actually it’s more sane. Because here’s what The Frau has learned: A society that can relax and recharge properly is a more productive and happy one.
Four: Cities and Nature Together
You’re never far from a hiking trail, a lake to swim in, or a bike path in Switzerland, even in the center of Zurich. Cities and nature are not separate concepts in Switzerland. There are no such things as forest preserves. Just forests. And that is something else to love.
What do you love about Switzerland?