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Socializing in Switzerland

I have done some research online about socializing in Switzerland since my last post describing how I continuously stick my foot in my mouth while socializing in our village.

My biggest mistake:

Here in Switzerland you do not talk about personal subjects where as in the States we are fairly open with people.

Once or twice, I have talked about my daughter in the States when asked about her. I mentioned that I hope it doesn’t go to the courts because I think her father will try to control visitation even when I pay for the plane tickets.

This was too much information for a Swiss mother even if I have been talking to her since school started back in August. In the States, it would be normal. The Swiss mother only wants to hear the very basics because we are not close friends. Basics as in…will you see your daughter…yes or no. Stop. No details.

These are the types of mistakes I make.

Cultural lesson:

Americans are very open about talking about things that are actually considered pretty personal to a Swiss.

What makes this funny is that I am considered somewhat reserved back in the States but in Switzerland I guess I can be a bit rude.

See. It is about the culture.

From my readings online, I have learned that it is easier to make friends with co-workers or by taking your time and being patient with the locals.

Vilay may have an easier time than me because he is working and he doesn’t care about the locals because he doesn’t really interact with them like I do.

The biggest thing I learned is that it does take time. Perhaps, it doesn’t take years like I first thought but it will take several months before the Swiss trust me. Some villagers never will.

My Swiss socialization plan :)

I will keep my conversations in line by socializing with the mothers as I did customers at the bank I used to work at.

I made several professional friendships with my customers. These were real friendships but they were only professional.

It was a professional relationship and not a personal relationship even if we were “friends”. There is a difference.

I think that in Switzerland people stay at the professional stage much longer than in America. And, many times never leave it.

I read that unless you have a lot in common with a Swiss the relationship will not bloom into a more personal one.

I will, also, ask right away what it is that I said if I see my big foot headed for my mouth. Thanks for the suggestion SwissGuy. It is a good one. And, I think the mothers will be happy to talk about it and teach me proper Swiss etiquette (and I do not mean that in a negative way).

Swiss are lifelong friends.

Swiss have lifelong friendships with others and there may be no real need to make another friend unless the two of you really form a bond for one reason or another.

Once you make friends with a Swiss, you have a dear and loyal friend for life.

The Swiss are not interested in superficial friendships. They are friends with people they are willing to commit to for life.

If a Swiss considers you a friend it is an honour.

So, if I am ever able to get to the point that a Swiss considers me a friend then I am stuck with them. :)

I have had many friendships in the past. Once I moved to France, I have not been able to keep up with any of my old friends or co-workers in the States. We grew apart. The Swiss don’t generally do that. You always stay in touch.

Swiss are super kind even if they can be more formal than Americans.

I find the Swiss as friendly as Americans. The only difference is that Americans are not know for being formal whereas the Swiss are. I will go further to say that the Swiss are the kindest group of people that I have met so far. They are always willing to help others. There is a real sense of community in our village that I have never been a part of before.


Some really good articles about life in Switzerland (socializing, working, budgeting, etc.). Many of the articles are written by Sylvie a Swiss woman.

An entire thread on englishforum.ch about making friends with the Swiss. This forum has helped me a lot since moving to Switzerland. I wish I had found this thread before now.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Cathy Y. April 20, 2008, 1:20 am

    Glad you found some good information to help you out, Pumpkin.

  • Pumpkin April 22, 2008, 12:20 pm

    Cathy, Me too! I think being an expat is hardest the first year. You go back and forth fighting within yourself about your new country. One week you love it and the next day you aren’t as sure.

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