Note: For the record I wrote this in January of 2016 after I returned from my short term assignment in Switzerland and never posted it. So I am posting it now with some annotations as my views and opinions have changed.
I have returned, Yes I have been away in case you have not noticed. I have been living in Switzerland for the past 3 months. In those past 3 months exciting and amazing things have happened to me. For one I traveled all around Europe including Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Vineyards of Alcase, Strasbourg, Colmar, Freiberg, Germany and of course Basel Switzerland where I lived. I have learned a lot about myself and about the world. here are 10 specific thing.
- People are the same everywhere, doing the same things. Working, making a living and providing for their families.
- I always had this notion those Glamorous cities like Zurich and Paris people were living glamorously. In these places there was no hustle or struggle and life was romantic an perfect and beautiful in a way that it is not in say New Jersey or New York or anywhere else. It was humbling to realize that despite the sometimes lovely architecture in the background and the language people in Paris, Zurich, Barcelona and any other “fancy” place are simply living. Not better or worse than how we living back home just the same with ups and downs and routines. Although there are some people who live “glamorously’, just like there are such people everywhere, most people are living their normal daily lives in a mundane sort of way. And this realization was important to recognize because it puts to rest the notion that there is a better place to exist than where I currently am. There are different places to exist but not better.
- Rudeness or lack of general kindness.
- Some people can be exceptionally rude. It’s very interesting but sometimes and also depending on the country that you are in it’s not common to make eye contact have small talk like “hello” or “good morning” with someone that you don’t know but with whom you are in close proximity to like a fellow train passenger ect. At first it’s a bit shocking but ultimately is saves you time and energy. Just mean mug all the way.
- Underground music has a huge audience.
- They play a lot of underground music on the radio and in lots of different languages. For example, even in countries were English is not the main language many of the songs on the radio were in English.
- What I knew to be coffee is trash compared to what I had in Europe.
- I never liked coffee before but when I had some in a meeting in Basel once to stay awake I was hooked! It’s super strong but so delicious and smooth.
- Sephora in Switzerland does not carry my shade…
- … but some French Sephora’s do, so keep in mind the cultural diversity of the country you are in and if you can’t find it in a store your best bet is to order online
- A lot of the iconic brands in the US are not sold here;
- Like Jergens or Tresemme (I swear I always thought this was French. The power of marketing). Order online again.
- I have also learned that no matter what the government system is there are always going to be problems.
- No system is perfect. The working poor are a problem here too despite the social structures in place to protect them for example.
- Everyone hates taxes no matter how great the roads are or how good the healthcare system.
- Nobody likes to give some of their money away to the government. I find it funny. I would gladly pay more taxes to have these things!
- There are significant cultural differences between countries and between regions within the same country. It’s not as united as we assume.
- The generalization of European culture and ideals is greatly flawed because most countries have distinct cultural identities and if you were to compare a German to an Italian or Swiss person they would each vehemently oppose the comparison and point out the cultural distinctions to separate themselves from this grouping. Even within the same country i.e. France, there are huge cultural distinctions between regions and member of each region can powerfully state those peculiarities.
- PDA is Ok and socially acceptable. It may not be appropriate back home but in most European countries a lot of PDA is totally fine and normal. What was really cute was the old couples holding hands and stealing kisses. It gave me hope.
Hope you enjoyed and please comment below if you have any of your own learning’s or questions.