Tuesday, September 11, 2012

One Year Swissish

More than a month ago, Brian and I hit our one-year-anniversary of living in Zurich, Switzerland. They gave us new ID cards and everything! I can't remember what we did to celebrate - I suspect we may have eaten some Mexican food, rather than Swiss food, though. Some thoughts after living in Switzerland for a year...

Switzerland is expensive. In particular, Zurich is expensive. There's no way around it - Switzerland is a little painful. The smallest coin is a 5 rappen piece and the smallest bill is a 10 franc note. I have seen people pay for small purchases with a 1000 franc note, with nary a bat of an eyelash. Our apartment is lovely, but the rent is much (much) higher than what we paid in Seattle for a similar apartment. Eating out and doing any sort of entertainment is also very expensive, but I think we're adjusting. 25 CHF for a Thai curry? Sure! However, this means we don't go out to eat or drink in Zurich very much... and when we go out anywhere else, it is VERY EXCITING. I will note that, excepting meat, groceries are not all that ridiculous in price compared to the US.

The language is weird. I have taken about six months of intensive German class and a few months of less-intensive German, and, for the most part, I cannot understand what people say around me. Swiss-German is a strange language, more closely related to Dutch than to 'real' German. My favorite YouTube video demonstrating the difference between Swiss-German and 'high' German is here (the fourth person starts speaking in Swiss-German). Fortunately, our mail and other documents are in 'high' German, so my classes are not for naught - and some people will tolerate my 'high' German questions.

It's beautiful here. We have been all around Switzerland, though still a lot to hit: Geneva, Lausanne, the Jura, the Matterhorn-when-not-hiding, and much of Ticino. The Alps are amazing and less than 2 hours away. Zurich has a breathtaking view of the Alps... though, like Seattle, a bit dependent on the weather. Otherwise, Zurich is very nice - a small, green city, that likes its pedestrians and public transport riders more than its car commuters. Having not driven a car in more than a year, I'm fine with that :)


It's very efficient. Mail within the country is delivered within a day. We went to get Swiss driver's licenses and had them in the mail within two days after visiting the Swiss equivalent of the DMV. The federal train company apologizes over the loudspeaker if trains are more than 2 minutes late, and there are articles in the newspaper if trains are more than 15 minutes late. Doctor's waiting rooms have no more than three seats - because why would there need to be more? Getting from our apartment to the top of a mountain is clearly described in the public transit software, and connections are all timed.

It's very safe. While bike theft is somewhat common, most people generally don't seem concerned about the well-being of their things. I have gone often to the Zurich-run beach on Lake Zurich, and have seen people leave their belongings without any watch while they go swimming. People ride the train and go to the bathroom and don't worry to much about their things. People never worry about muggings or any such thing while walking through a particular neighborhood.

We are so close! To everything. To France, Spain, Italy, Germany... anywhere! It's pretty amazing to travel two hours and be in a new country, with a new language, new food, and a new culture.

We're having fun. Come visit :)

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