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  • Writer's pictureWalter Ponce

Interesting facts about the lifestyle in Switzerland

Updated: Jan 19, 2023

When we talk about Switzerland, at least for me, the first things that come to mind are mountains, chocolates and watches. However, the culture of this country is much more than that and here I come to tell you some #funfacts about how people live in Switzerland and what particularities their society has.

The first thing I want to clarify is that there are many companies in one. Being a multicultural country, with 4 official languages, I would say that there are more than four cultures in the same country.

Here I am going to tell you about those data that are not written anywhere but that are very characteristic of society and give it a personality that is impossible to ignore.

1. Extreme punctuality

The Swiss is that type of person who apologizes to you for being 2 minutes late. Punctuality is something part of the personality, it practically already comes with them. If a meeting is agreed at a certain time, you arrive at that time, not 5 minutes later, nor 5 minutes earlier.

According to this characteristic, I must say that it is not the same in all parts of Switzerland. I don't know much about the Swiss-Italian population, but at least between the Swiss-German part and the Swiss-French part there are quite a few differences in terms of punctuality. They are both punctual, but the Swiss German is the extremist, the Francophone is a bit more relaxed and I have witnessed late arrivals.

On the other hand, punctuality is not the same for a work meeting as it is for going to eat at a friend's. It is said in Swiss society that when you meet with friends it is ok to arrive about ten minutes late out of respect for the host, because if you have a last-minute mishap you can resolve it before the guests arrive.

2. Politeness and kindness with strangers.

It is super normal to greet a person on the street even if you don't know them, simply because you are passing by them. That's something I love! I must clarify that there is usually more in the smaller cities, since in Zurich, being the city with the most tourists in the whole country, it is rarer to see something like this, because the majority are simply not Swiss!

Some other ways they express kindness in everyday life are:

  • Introduce yourself before starting a phone call

  • Wait for the host's toast before drinking the wine

  • Bring gifts to the kids if we go to eat at a friend's house

  • Always call before making a visit

  • Always say “bon appetit” before a meal

3. How the Swiss population travels

When we talk about transport in Switzerland, the first thing that comes to mind is trains. And it is as it is! The Swiss always prefer public transport over the car. It doesn't mean that you don't have it, but for your daily life or to go to work during the week you probably choose the train and leave the car at home to use it on weekends, either to go to the supermarket or to escape to your house in the mountain

We know that Switzerland has one of the most extensive and incredible railway systems in the world. Aside from being in perfect condition, its punctuality befits the town's most famous trait, being on time. The transport system combined with the buses is so well designed that you can practically reach anywhere in the country with public transport.

So that they realize how important public transport is to them, they have a transport museum in Lucerne and it is the most visited museum in the country!

4. Swiss food and its schedule

One of the things that caught my attention when I started working was how early the Swiss eat lunch! Some of my co-workers started lunch at 11:30 and others at 12:30 at the latest. It is for this very reason that they have dinner between 6 and 7pm, or at 8pm as late as possible.

On the other hand, during the week they usually eat something on the go, light in general. It is during the weekend that those great meals are organized like a barbecue on summer nights or it can be a great raclette among friends.

5. Outdoor activity as part of everyday life

Something that I began to observe when I arrived is that the plans of my acquaintances always involved a natural environment . Whether it's going for a walk around the lake, trekking in the mountains or skiing in winter. From my window on weekends all I do is watch people go by on their daily walk.

During the week they dedicate themselves to being more productive, they work, the Swiss work a lot, but don't take the weekend out of outdoor activity because they don't know what to do. Even if they organize a meal at home (obviously scheduled), they will do it in the way that involves as much nature as possible, in the park at home, looking at the mountains and enjoying the fresh air.

I even got infected and started making plans with my friends like going for a walk in the mountains, or having dinner by the lake. I think it is impossible not to get infected with the landscapes they have, wherever you look it is wonderful. Walking, cycling, running, any activity is a pleasure to do while looking at the Alps.

The official day of leisure for the Swiss is Sunday , it is the day that they rest, that they carry out their activity in the open air. Important to point out that in Switzerland absolutely everything is closed on Sundays, no business are open. So leisure for them is not going shopping at the mall, but walking and relaxing.

Saturdays are usually the typical day to meet with friends, which is very likely, especially in summer, to include nature as well.

6. The majority of the Swiss population is multilingual.

Speaking of a country that has 4 official languages, it is not something that should draw our attention, but it is still the case. It was not always like this, but the country's political idea of ​​integrating different cultures prevailed over time and they managed to implement German, French, Italian and Romansh as official languages.

Apart from these, English is taught in a compulsory way in school, so most of them speak it too. Students learn in the official language of their canton and are required to choose another official language of the country to study as well . In general, the majority choose German and French as they are the predominant languages.

I want to clarify that this does not mean that they speak it fluently. In general, French-speaking Swiss do not like to speak English or German. Swiss German instead if you can find it friendlier when speaking English. As for the Italian part, they have the least advantage as it is the third language on the scale, so the majority usually study both, German and French at school.

7. They maintain your privacy

I don't think that this last point catches your attention, since in the world the Swiss is usually known as a more closed person compared to a the South or Europe. But more than closed I think the correct term is private. I don't see them as closed since since I arrived all the people I've met have been willing to open up and share moments. However, the Swiss is that kind of person who tells you what he does, what he likes, etc., but from there to telling you a personal problem, 5 years of friendship can pass.

I want to tell you that obviously this is a bit difficult to establish as a "characteristic" because each person is different and it depends a lot on the personality of each one. But in general matters, they are not people who, when they meet you, are going to tell you their personal questions from one moment to the next.

In turn, they do not like to brag about their lifestyle or what they have, they are reserved people who keep those details for their most intimate circle . On the one hand, it can be difficult at first to establish a true friendship with a Swiss, once they give you their trust, prepare yourself because they are one of the most faithful people that exist . They will be there for whatever you need, no matter what happens, and I think this is where the difficulty of opening up comes in at first, they value friendship so much that they don't give it to just anyone.

One thing I love is that being private people in general, they also respect your privacy . It is rare to find a Swiss who, if he doesn't know you very well, starts asking you about your work, what you do in life or about your family; for them that is something super exclusive to share.

Well these were some of the qualities found in this beautiful culture. Obviously, as I said before, there are many cultures within one . Not all of them are handled the same, not all of them have the same characteristics, but these that I have mentioned I think can identify the majority.



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