“Swiss Watching”


Remember way back to the beginning of my sophomore year, I had only lived in Switzerland for a couple weeks, and I wrote about some of the little differences I had noticed about my life living in this new country in comparison to America? Well, I learn something new about this country every day and I thought I would share a few of the things I’ve learned or observed since those first couple weeks after moving here.

  1. Not every Swiss cheese has holes.
  2. It’s roughly twice the size of New Jersey.
  3. The Swiss usually always make conversation in elevators, whereas in America we usually tend to say nothing more than hello and stand there in silence.
  4. I didn’t actually notice this one until I went back to America for winter break. I guess it was an out of sight out of mind kind of thing. Anyway, I was sitting down to eat my first meal back in America and into my cup poured a couple ice cubes. My eyes widened and I realized that I had gone 4 months without a single one. Apparently, they don’t exist in Switzerland or Europe, for that matter. (Along with air conditioning…except I noticed that one almost immediately.)
  5. Swiss time means 5 minutes early. Dad, this is your country, your people. (He sets his watch 5 minutes fast so that he is never late.)
  6. The Swiss train system is on time to the SECOND. It’s really rather amazing.
  7. They use military time. So, don’t say to your friend “meet me at 7 o’clock at Sheep’s Café” when you have a dinner date in mind because you’re about to be 12 hours late to your breakfast date.
  8. Crossing the road. If there is no traffic light for the crosswalk, the Swiss don’t hesitate even a little bit to walk right out into the middle of the crosswalk confident that the oncoming car will stop for them. And they do…they always stop. But because I’m American, I still hesitate just a little bit by slowing down before plunging out into the middle of the crosswalk and I look at the driver to see if they see me. If they see me, then, I’m 100% sure they will stop. In America, you could be standing on the side of the street making eye contact with every single driver that passes you by and maybe the 5th person you make eye contact with stops for you. I seemed to forget about this when I was back in America for winter break. I was walking along with my mom and I slowed down when I approached the cross walk, and once I made eye contact with the driver who was coming around the corner I walked right out. I didn’t realize how badly that could have ended until I noticed that my mom was no longer walking next to me and instead was still standing on the sidewalk giving me a look of “um are you trying to commit suicide?!” Luckily, the driver was going slowly enough that it was a happy ending. Yay.

Stay tuned for more…

(Photo Credit: Sarah Tucker)


  1. All good to know for our visit in March!!

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