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Old 08.11.2012, 06:23
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US vs. CH

Hey guys,
I was wondering if anyone could maybe give me some insight on life in america. I hear a lot of pretty bad things about working there (no time off, long days, hardly any vacations, getting fired in a blink of an eye, etc). I was born in pittsburgh PA and lived there for 6 years, lived in the italian part of switzerland for 2 years, then in the german part, then back to my dad's in Alabama for 1 year, and now back to the german part since 6 years. I worked as a massage therapist, but will start my biotech bachelor next year.
How is the working life over there for an academic?
I was fortunate enough to always have enough green area around the house to play, and learn to enjoy the outdoors (hunter and fisherman and just LOVE nature), so needless to say, i miss the anerican wilderness.
But i do see all the positive aspects of switzerland, and do appreciate them. I would just really like my kids to grow up the way i have (whih is merely impossible here in switzerland).
Thanks for the info
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Old 08.11.2012, 07:30
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Re: US vs. CH

Your kids can't grow up the way you have. Times have changed and it simply isn't possible.

I also grew up in the US, in Oklahoma. When I was young people could leave their doors unlocked without worrying about people coming in and stealing things. I wouldn't do that these days. When I went to elementary and junior high school in the 50s/60s there was discipline and teachers were respected. When my second cousin was at school in the 90s there were checks for guns and knives being brought onto school property. I would think things could be even worse in Pittsburgh.

Your children can learn to enjoy the outdoor life and nature here in Switzerland just as easily as they can in the US. Don't look at this from childhood memories and rose-tinted glasses. Look at the reality. America isn't what it was and, unfortunately, I doubt it will ever be again.
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Old 08.11.2012, 07:57
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Re: US vs. CH

The cheese and chocolate is better here.

As a European who has lived and worked in US, I'd say most of your preconceptions are likely correct, especially holiday entitlements. Except that:
1) Academics actually work?
2) America is too big and diverse to easily generalize about except tongue in cheek. Depends on the state, job, income etc.


Good luck
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Old 08.11.2012, 08:04
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Re: US vs. CH

really depends where you are.

the US is enormous and varies tremendously. your experience will vary tremendously based on decisions you make where you live, and even where you live, where you live (if that makes sense... neighborhood).

your question is sort of like "hey guys, whats life like in europe!"
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Old 08.11.2012, 08:09
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Re: US vs. CH

Don't store-managers in the USA eat grumpy unfriendly sales assistants for dinner ? So that such people disappear and the managers get heavier ?
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Old 08.11.2012, 08:11
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Re: US vs. CH

I think my kids have more freedom growing up here than I did growing up in the states. My parents had lots of land, a wonderful virgin forest and I grew up with little fear of being kidnapped. However, there weren't too many neighborhood kids around, my mother had to drive me everywhere and I couldn't take many extra-curricular activities until I was older.

Living in the wilds of Innerschwyz, my kids can go fishing in creeks, build forts in the woods, play with lots of friends, walk to school, do any activities the town offers without me driving them and I'm not worried about them being kidnapped or molested. Of course I have to keep an eye out on them. As they get older, it's harder to figure out their comings and goings, but I truly think they've got it better here than if they were in the US.

As for being an adult, I guess it depends on your priorities. If you want to start your own business, buy your own house, be surrounded by nature and not too many houses and be a real "outdoor man", perhaps the US would be better.
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Old 08.11.2012, 08:17
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Re: US vs. CH

that's what I think about when I hear Pittsburgh
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Old 08.11.2012, 08:22
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Re: US vs. CH

US vs. CH

All I can say is here we go again.
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Old 08.11.2012, 08:31
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Re: US vs. CH

Gee, everyone afraid of their kids getting kidnapped or molested. I am just as afraid of that happening here in CH as I was in the US (let's say it is pretty far down the list of things I fear. Probably right next to being involved in a plane crash).

Where we recently lived in Upstate NY we had great schools (no gun checks! or anything like that), safe neighborhoods and 24 hour shopping

The biggest negative for me living in the states is that people are a bit more paranoid about bad things happening, and letting your kid play outside unattended would probably cause a busy-body neighbor to call you out on it saying you were somehow putting your kid in jeopardy.

The biggest positive being in the US is you can pretty much do what you want when you want. Want to do laundry at 3 am, go ahead. Want to mow your lawn on a Sunday, no problem. People are also a bit more open and having get togethers can be accomplished without using a yearly calendar to pencil it in.

But really, you should go where the job situation is the best, as anyplace can be home. I love living here, and I would love living in the US, both for different reasons!
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Old 08.11.2012, 08:42
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Re: US vs. CH

To address a few of your questions, Generally speaking of course.

1. Vacations a fewer than Europe. On the average one gets 10 to 15 days of vacation. The 15 days of vacation is generally harder to get and can be found in some of the top tier companies or those who have tenure. So one can expect 10 days starting off. I did work for a US company (Big Global Biotech/Pharma) who did give 15 days plus had 2 weeks of shut down, but that was company specific and was deemed a perk.

2. There are genearlly 10 or so public holidays.

3. Depending on environment days can be long. Americans do work long hours. In academia, that can be very long, especially if you go into a laboratory setting. But I think this is Global. On the average when I was in the lab, I was in by 9:00 AM and out by 7 or 8:00 PM. Outside of Academia, it depends on career path and work environment, but most folks work 10 hours a day when all is factored in. I know few how work "bankers" hours. Work life balance is generally not what it is in CH/ Europe.

4. Yes you can get fired in a blink of an eye. In the private sector, most employees are what is called an "At Will" employee (to use legal terminology). This means that both you and the company can terminate employement..AT WILL. However, realistically speaking, from a company perspective this is only implimented in cases of Gross negligence or when one is a total "mess-up" aka idiot. From your end you can terminate at anytime as well, though you can quit on the same day, there is courtesy to give 2 weeks notice, but this is generally not in writing.

5. That last point relates to working style. Americans are merit based. In generally you have to prove yourself first. US is generally performance based. Americans are very career focused and very competitive from both career and work perspective, especially in Academia. They put work first and they define themselves by the work they do. If your style is not striving to be the best of the best and out performing others, you won't survive there, in General a least. (we did invent Survivor no?).

6. Other environments will be different. Government jobs, depending on the job, you can find high levels of mediocracy as well as high levels of expertise depending on the level and agency.

I hope I was able to address your questions. Of course..to emphasis it is in "general". But at least of have a taste of what to expect a bit.

Academia is tough, it is not a walk in the park.
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Old 08.11.2012, 08:43
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Re: US vs. CH

I believe that just about anyone in the world could find some place in the US where they would feel comfortable and live the life that they want.

It's just a question of finding where that place is.
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Old 08.11.2012, 08:47
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Re: US vs. CH

I love to hunt and fish... It's just merely possible here. It takes like 2 years to get a hunting license, then you usually hunt in a forrest where you see more dogs and people the wild animals. Fishing: super strict retarded laws like no live baits allowed. I love to go mushroom hunting: can't walk for more then 5-10min without crossing a path/road, field, seeing people. I think we're speaking of teo different kinds of natures here. I would like a forrest where i could get lost and not see someone for the entire time i go walking there.
The rules here are just ridiculous to me, and so i ron't see how your kids could have more freedom here. They can't make too much noise, i they play in the woods some old grumpy guy will probably yell at them for cutting branches or digging holes or something.
And besides, isn't it merely impossible to own a house, not to mention have a little land around it and a little privacy?
I went to school in alabama for 1 year, and sure, it was a good private/expensive school, but boy did i learn more there then here in switzerland. And my little sister is attending a ublic school in bama as well, and it's pretty good.
I just w
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Old 08.11.2012, 08:49
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Re: US vs. CH

I love to hunt and fish... It's just merely possible here. It takes like 2 years to get a hunting license, then you usually hunt in a forrest where you see more dogs and people the wild animals. Fishing: super strict retarded laws like no live baits allowed. I love to go mushroom hunting: can't walk for more then 5-10min without crossing a path/road, field, seeing people. I think we're speaking of teo different kinds of natures here. I would like a forrest where i could get lost and not see someone for the entire time i go walking there.
The rules here are just ridiculous to me, and so i ron't see how your kids could have more freedom here. They can't make too much noise, i they play in the woods some old grumpy guy will probably yell at them for cutting branches or digging holes or something.
And besides, isn't it merely impossible to own a house, not to mention have a little land around it and a little privacy?
I went to school in alabama for 1 year, and sure, it was a good private/expensive school, but boy did i learn more there then here in switzerland. And my little sister is attending a ublic school in bama as well, and it's pretty good.
I just want to go to the US for these things, and then just come to realize that i have no time nor money to enjoy any of the freedoms.
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Old 08.11.2012, 08:53
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Re: US vs. CH

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I believe that just about anyone in the world could find some place in the US where they would feel comfortable and live the life that they want.

It's just a question of finding where that place is.

for sure none of the states where it gets me into jail when a bottle of wine is in my trunk and a kid in backseat the same time means that i have exposed my kids to alcohol or any other lunatics law. so i rather opt for no laundry at 3 am.
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Old 08.11.2012, 08:59
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Re: US vs. CH

couple of things:

1. university is about 10x as expensive in the US as it is in the Zurich area. cost of living is much cheaper, but not enough to make up for the difference in tuition expense.

2. the work / life balance is entirely different in the States, almost 180 degrees to what you would experience in central Europe. keep in mind that being allowed vacation and taking vacation are totally different concepts, as well.

3. I would not worry about the "at will" employment issue - yes, the US is generally "at will" for employment, but the litigation landscape means nearly all employers offer reasonably-attractive severance packages. Switzerland, for example, is considerably less "employee friendly" than the US in terms of job security, although of course the unemployment rate in Switzerland is much less.

as others have said, it all depends on your life and career objectives. if your objective is to be a university professor and live in a university town, you will have to work extremely hard (at least until you are tenured) but life for families in university towns is generally excellent. this is especially true for universities that reside outside of the major cities, where you have all the amenities that come with higher education (medical care, arts, sports, etc.), as well as near immediate access to the great outdoors.
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Old 08.11.2012, 09:02
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Re: US vs. CH

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for sure none of the states where it gets me into jail when a bottle of wine is in my trunk and a kid in backseat the same time means that i have exposed my kids to alcohol or any other lunatics law. so i rather opt for no laundry at 3 am.
what states would those be?

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Old 08.11.2012, 09:05
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Re: US vs. CH

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I love to hunt and fish... It's just merely possible here. It takes like 2 years to get a hunting license, then you usually hunt in a forrest where you see more dogs and people the wild animals. Fishing: super strict retarded laws like no live baits allowed. I love to go mushroom hunting: can't walk for more then 5-10min without crossing a path/road, field, seeing people. I think we're speaking of teo different kinds of natures here. I would like a forrest where i could get lost and not see someone for the entire time i go walking there.
The rules here are just ridiculous to me, and so i ron't see how your kids could have more freedom here. They can't make too much noise, i they play in the woods some old grumpy guy will probably yell at them for cutting branches or digging holes or something.
And besides, isn't it merely impossible to own a house, not to mention have a little land around it and a little privacy?
I went to school in alabama for 1 year, and sure, it was a good private/expensive school, but boy did i learn more there then here in switzerland. And my little sister is attending a ublic school in bama as well, and it's pretty good.
I just want to go to the US for these things, and then just come to realize that i have no time nor money to enjoy any of the freedoms.

matey, the size of all woods here can be owned in the US by a private person! switzerland is small, why comes this as a surprise? and learned more in Alabama...in terms of what? i welcome the fact that in europe not everything is possible to do "free as i want to be". the ressources here are more limited and space is smaller so everyone has to take care about such things like environment and thats what appreciate that kids learn that here: to respect nature. think! use your brain! thats something i find more more spoon-fed to US-people. the law, government, copper harley will tell you.
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Old 08.11.2012, 09:08
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Re: US vs. CH

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what states would those be?


it happened to me (ok, my driver) in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
in fact it was a wrapped (but open) bottle of vodka in the trunk.
it did not bring him into jail but into trouble, argument with the copper. blabla...kids....alcohol...blabla...wtf?

because during the bbq on his ground at 6-7pm i asked why we dont have a beer n he said he does not want to drink as he would expose his kids to alcohol.
i was confused, then i knew why. i mean those laws are silly. exposed to a lottery ticket could get you into gambling, no?
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Old 08.11.2012, 09:12
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Re: US vs. CH

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it happened to me (ok, my driver) in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
in fact it was a wrapped (but open) bottle of vodka in the trunk.
it did not bring him into jail but into trouble, argument with the copper. blabla...kids....alcohol...blabla...wtf?

because drung the bbq i asked why we dont have a beer n he said he does not want to drink as he would expose his kids to alcohol.
i was confused, then i knew why.
That's not true, as the police would ask you if it's ok to search the vehicle (trunk), unless there is substantial reason for the vehicle to be searched without your consent.
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Old 08.11.2012, 09:14
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Re: US vs. CH

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I love to hunt and fish... It's just merely possible here. It takes like 2 years to get a hunting license, then you usually hunt in a forrest where you see more dogs and people the wild animals. Fishing: super strict retarded laws like no live baits allowed. I love to go mushroom hunting: can't walk for more then 5-10min without crossing a path/road, field, seeing people. I think we're speaking of teo different kinds of natures here. I would like a forrest where i could get lost and not see someone for the entire time i go walking there.
The rules here are just ridiculous to me, and so i ron't see how your kids could have more freedom here. They can't make too much noise, i they play in the woods some old grumpy guy will probably yell at them for cutting branches or digging holes or something.
And besides, isn't it merely impossible to own a house, not to mention have a little land around it and a little privacy?
I went to school in alabama for 1 year, and sure, it was a good private/expensive school, but boy did i learn more there then here in switzerland. And my little sister is attending a ublic school in bama as well, and it's pretty good.
I just want to go to the US for these things, and then just come to realize that i have no time nor money to enjoy any of the freedoms.
Find a job here in the Pharma industry (or start one up yourself). Try to be the best you could in your job. With that simple recipe, chances are that you will make enough money so you can plan a special holidays every year in the US, two weeks into the wild so you don't get bored. Spend the rest of the holidays every year skiing or sightseeing here in Europe or visiting the wilderness in Africa. you won't be able to do your laundry at 2am or visit Coop at midnight though. Ah, find a partner that also enjoys nature.

Once you reach retirement age, with your Swiss pension and life time savings perhaps you could consider moving to a cheaper country, even the US itself.
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