First Impressions - Switzerland

Switzerland

I remember like it was yesterday the very first day I arrived in Switzerland. I actually remember all my first days in every country I lived in, but today I am talking about my loved Switzerland.

I landed in Zürich and we drove to Weggis (about 40min), all I remember during my drive were the homes. It was August and all of them were like doll houses with flowers on the windows. I couldn't believe it was so beautiful. I wasn't too impressed with Zürich, it's just a big city, but the rest of the drive was amazing.

The fun thing about Switzerland is that it's such a small country, but it's basically divided into 4 parts, each with its own culture, food and architecture. I was lucky enough to have lived in both the German and French parts and traveled all over. We used to rent cars and drive go for day trips. It's such a small country, it's easy to go places.

Language

Each part, also has its own languages, Swiss German, French, Italian and Romansh. Most people speak English (the younger generation anyway), and they not only speak the main language from where they live, but dialects and other languages as well.

Prices

Switzerland is an expensive place to live. I remember going out to clubs in Geneva or Zurich and being broke for a month after. Being a student and having our own student bar was very handy because prices were student friendly. Rents were expensive as well, when I lived in Lausanne, I paid almost a grand for a tiny studio, and when I say tiny, I mean tiny. Bedroom, bath and kitchen, no stove, just a sink and a small fridge. Seriously, it was smaller than tiny.

Housing

You will see a lot of high rises in big cities. In smaller towns, you will see a lot of houses and small buildings. It's charming, it is cute and it is well preserved. Within the architecture, you see roman ruins and castles all over. Like the rest of Europe, you breath history.

If you visit a Swiss person, you will be required to take off your shoes before entering the home. I love this habit, although I don't do it in my home anymore, I used to when I lived in Switzerland. A much cleaner habit.

Flowers everywhere, spring comes around and you see flowers in every windowsill, every balcony, it's so pretty!! Can you tell I love that country?

Chateau

Smoking

I'm not sure if this is the case, but when I lived in Switzerland, everyone smoked. Very common. Mind you, this was in the mid to late-90's, so quite a few years ago, (ssshhhhhh, let's keep it as our secret), things might have changed now.

Food

Just like in architecture, food varies a lot depending where you are in Switzerland. And no, the Swiss don't eat fondue and raclette for every meal, I do have to say that I could have eaten it forever, I love it.

The Swiss eat a lot of game, I tried veal, rabbit and ostrich for the first time during my time there. Ostrich and veal are delicious, rabbit, not so much, too fatty for me (and I am sorry for vegetarians and vegans out there, it is what it is). Fridays is a day for fish, hardly any other meat.

Another really delicious dish is Spätzle, I can't explain, it's like a pasta dish, it's so, so good. It's made with eggs and flour, and you eat it mostly with meat with sauce dishes.

Do you like chocolate, wine and cheese? This is the place for you... or not, depending how you look at it.

Social Scene

You can hit some of the best parties in Europe in Switzerland, I know I did. My life in Switzerland revolved around a good party and it was great, I tell you. My introduction to techno music was in Zürich, you have street parties, week-long carnival parties... Oh dear, just talking about it brings me right back. You wouldn't think, but Switzerland is a brilliant place to party.

Transport

The best public transport, ever! Taking a train? A bus? They leave at 5:03am and not one second before or after. If you're not in, you lose it. You can get anywhere with their trains. I used to take an early train in Winterthur and it's like a school bus, all the kids are in, traveling from one place to another to go to school. Bicycle is also another really common method of transport. In some cities, it's normal to get a bike that is parked outside the train station and drop it off back afterwards.

Army

Mandatory army for every man and voluntary for women. I wasn't going to add this here, but one fun fact is that you go to the army base, you keep your guns at home, and it's very common for you to be traveling in a train loaded with soldiers and their guns. At first it was very weird to me, but with everything, you get used to it.