Living in Switzerland Part 1
You've secured your job, the visa is in place...now what? It is time to book your removals firm, find a place to live and start to grapple with Switzerland's four languages, not to mention the rules and regulations.
Mountains. Cheese. Chocolate. Cuckoo Clocks?
When you hear the name Switzerland, most likely you think of at least one of these things: mountains, cheese, chocolate and cuckoo clocks.
You'd be right to think of mountains; the Alps are some of the most stunning in the world. Cheese, too, is a Swiss staple and you'll find various Swiss cheeses, such as Emmentaler, on tables across the world. Chocolate may be Switzerland's best loved export, and they do it well. But cuckoo clocks aren't Swiss! They originate from a few miles north of the Swiss border, in Germany's Black Forest. But you'll still see them sold in the tourist shops of Zurich, as people have come to associate cuckoo clocks with Switzerland.
Gruetzi! Bonjour! Buongiorno! Allegra!
For a small country, Switzerland is incredibly diverse both in its landscape and in its people, traditions and languages. There are four official languages in Switzerland - German, French, Italian and Rhaeto-Romansh, and they are spoken in different areas of the country. For example in Geneva, the cantonal language is French, in Zurich it is German, in Lugano it is Italian. Rhaeto-Romansh is spoken by less than 1% of the country's residents. While German is an official language, only written German will look like what you might have learned in school - spoken German is very different and the dialects will vary from town to town.
Greeting practices in the German speaking parts of Switzerland
- When people greet each other, a handshake is always expected unless you know each other well, when three kisses on the cheek are exchanged
- When walking into a waiting room, small shop, etc. it is expected you will greet everyone with "Gruetzi Miteinand" (hello everyone)
- Before eating, wait until everyone has been served and then say "an guete" (enjoy your meal) before starting your meal
Arrange your removal
Make sure that your removal company is familiar with Switzerland and its rules and regulations about moving times, customs checks, etc. Our next instalment on moving to Switzerland will contain information about daily life and Swiss apartment life.
Part two of this series