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Old 03.08.2017, 13:18
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Swiss-German personality/culture - what do you appreciate?

Hello,

It's been about 8 years now that my husband and I have been living here in Switzerland - I love this beautiful country and we are here for life.

Lately I've gone through a rather difficult time, and I have realized that part of it is due to my daily struggle to understand and fully integrate into life amongst the Swiss-Germans. It is not due to a lack of effort, I am a polite and rule abiding resident who can speak enough German to get by and I do have non-expat friends - but there is something missing. I am a very vibrant person and this type of personality isn't so appreciated or understood here - i.e. there's no day-to-day banter and I just want to get on the tram and smile and laugh without being shsss'd or seriously stared at for the entirety of my journey. There are many other things I could mention that I struggle with and that often make me feel very lonely in my chosen home.

In an effort to improve my attitude, my therapist asked me what is it that I appreciate about the Swiss personality/culture. I would like to ask you fellow expats what you also value about the Swiss in order to broaden my mindset and continue to see the positive.

*Please no "if you don't like it here, leave" comments - I do like it here, I'm not leaving and part of this thread is a genuine effort to be the best resident of this country as I can be.

Thanks all!
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Old 03.08.2017, 13:21
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Re: Swiss-German personality/culture - what do you appreciate?

The Swiss are not fake. There's no 'have a nice day' culture so when a Swiss shows a kindness or friendliness it is genuine.
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Old 03.08.2017, 13:29
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Re: Swiss-German personality/culture - what do you appreciate?

I find them kind in a no nonsense way. They do you a good turn without the fuss. I appreciate that a lot.

Their reliability warms my very square heart.

They mind their own business.

Disclaimer: I haven't met them all, so I can only talk about my experience.


Edit, funny that MsWorWoo and I hit on their kindness inmediately
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Old 03.08.2017, 13:39
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Re: Swiss-German personality/culture - what do you appreciate?

Completely agree.

Once you've gained a Swiss friends trust, then it's there for life - as long as you don't misuse it.

Anything in-between is also interesting, but the average Swiss is discerning and will take or leave it.
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Old 03.08.2017, 14:29
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Swiss-German personality/culture - what do you appreciate?

They follow rules.
They are very process oriented.
What You See is What You Get. If they are friendly, then it is the real deal.
It is a very safe environment especially for kids and ladies (I come from India and can appreciate that a lot).
You can see your tax dollars at work..... :-)
And everything has a price (Ok, that is not a good thing.... :-)
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Old 03.08.2017, 15:53
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Re: Swiss-German personality/culture - what do you appreciate?

I appreciate the "Let's not cut corners, but do the job right" attitude. Especially after experiencing the exact opposite in Asia for five years between living here.

I know they very often go over the top with that (not everyone who rides a bike 5 times a year really needs a 5k CHF road bike...), but overall is it much better than the opposite. Especially in work life.
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Old 03.08.2017, 15:54
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Re: Swiss-German personality/culture - what do you appreciate?

As a mother of young children, often out in public with them, I appreciate the basic presumption that I am capable: that I know what kind of help I need, and can be trusted to ask for it if I need it.

If something is patently a two-adult job (e.g. manhandling a double stroller in and out of the old-style trains with stairs) someone has always been right there to lend a hand - and on the occasions when I do ask for help with something it's always been immediately forthcoming. But what I cherish about (rural) Swiss-German culture is that for the most part, bystanders wait patiently to be asked. [For practical assistance anyway - advice is another story!!] They don't assume that I need help, or jump to conclusions about what kind of help I need. Encouraging nods and smiles are offered as a kind of signal that "help is here if you need it" but the default assumption is that I've got it covered.

I value this hands-off approach more than I can say. It's probably horses for courses as I've known other young mothers who experienced the same behavior and interpreted it as a bit cold and uncaring - if you're so willing to help then why sit there like a stump and make the poor woman ask, why not just offer? - but it suits me right down to the ground. It gives me space to be and feel competent... which as a rookie mom is what I needed more than anything else.
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Old 03.08.2017, 16:34
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Re: Swiss-German personality/culture - what do you appreciate?

It's a hit and miss.

The ratio of finding a good Swiss-german friend is 1 out of 10. So don't lose hope!!
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Old 03.08.2017, 16:51
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Re: Swiss-German personality/culture - what do you appreciate?

What I really like - are dependability, loyalty, sincerity and discretion. I was raised that way and it helped me feel comfortable here. These qualities definitely were the route to smooth the rough edges of having to settle somewhere I have not chosen myself, at first.

And what is lacking - is weirdness. Too much normalcy and uniformity. I miss creative air, rule-free space, risk, curiosity and square-pegness, sometimes. But one can get it right over the border fast or while travelling

OP - save your cash for the therapist, JP Sears is better

http://youtu.be/79zra755WgA
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Old 03.08.2017, 16:52
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Re: Swiss-German personality/culture - what do you appreciate?

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They mind their own business.
See - I don't have that experience, I find that they are always up in my business. Been part of the issue for me...

Thank-you to all for your responses so far!
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Old 03.08.2017, 16:55
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Re: Swiss-German personality/culture - what do you appreciate?

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And what is lacking - is weirdness. Too much normalcy and uniformity. I miss creative air, rule-free space, risk, curiosity and square-pegness, sometimes. But one can get it right over the border fast or while travelling
Amen sister! I am a creative person who used to work in the arts - moving to CH and sitting at a corporate desk has been a struggle...I do run to more "free" places as often as possible, but want to make it work here. Thanks for the tip!
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Old 03.08.2017, 16:58
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Re: Swiss-German personality/culture - what do you appreciate?

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See - I don't have that experience, I find that they are always up in my business. Been part of the issue for me...
For example?
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Old 03.08.2017, 18:19
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Re: Swiss-German personality/culture - what do you appreciate?

What I appreciate the most about the Swiss people I know:

(1) Once friend, friend for life - they do not take the word "friend" lightly, but when you are friends, then it is forever, and they make it a point to make you part of their life: they open their homes, their families and loved ones know you, and so forth.

(2) They appreciate one's honest effort to learn the language and curiosity to understand their culture and social norms. My German is not stellar and I really struggled with Swiss German, however, I was curious about where words came from, why people did things a certain way, why people were interested in certain things, etc. I asked a lot of questions and observed a lot. Armed with a smile, goodwill, and a broken German, I encountered understanding and appreciation. I lived in Zurich but loved going to places like Appenzell and Gimmelwald and talk to people at local bars and in shops. I remember a poor guy in Appenzell who had the patience to answer all my questions about the local products he was selling and the local history behind them. I was willing to learn anything and try anything - heck, I even went curling and I HATE ice, and cross-country skiing despite being on my butt most of the day the first time!

(3) They may frown at your "weirdness" or roll their eyes at your "well, back home...", but they have your back when it truly matters.
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Old 03.08.2017, 18:49
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Re: Swiss-German personality/culture - what do you appreciate?

I like them being willing to help out when help is needed.
There was one time I fell off accidentally from my bike while descending a slope, a lady immediately came and offered as much help as she can!
And yes, they are genuine!
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Old 03.08.2017, 19:12
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Re: Swiss-German personality/culture - what do you appreciate?

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Amen sister! I am a creative person who used to work in the arts - moving to CH and sitting at a corporate desk has been a struggle...I do run to more "free" places as often as possible, but want to make it work here. Thanks for the tip!
Then why oh why are you working corporate if you struggle?

Working in the arts with other freethinking weirdos is quite possible here, I should know. Just leave the expat world and roam the cities, find filmmakers, paint walls, help out at the fimkids summer camps...go to http://www.kaserne-basel.ch. There is a world outside of corporate rubbish!
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Old 03.08.2017, 20:25
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Re: Swiss-German personality/culture - what do you appreciate?

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For example?
That.
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Old 03.08.2017, 20:29
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Re: Swiss-German personality/culture - what do you appreciate?

Being willing to help you even when they don't know you. Politeness. Non-fake, non-condescending interest in you or your family. Discrete, reliable friendliness.
Being reliable, again - once you established something that's the deal, no "Well, I actually changed my mind" a few days later...or "Sorry, I can't do that anymore" kind of ahem, expat thing...
The "Let's do the job properly", no improvisations, no half-finished projects, no nonsense.
"Let's think of every detail, together" - I found it annoying in the beginning but highly appreciate it now. I miss spontaneity and a bit of craziness or (out of the box thinking) though.
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Old 03.08.2017, 20:32
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Re: Swiss-German personality/culture - what do you appreciate?

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Then why oh why are you working corporate if you struggle?
Because people have their own priorities and ways and pace to find them? Because there are other limitations...space, time, finances, language, other members of family and not prioritizing oneself? As a free-thinker you should be fast to imagine.

Great advice, otherwise! Yes, there is plenty of inspirational weirdness. Takes quite a while and also autonomy and independence, some resources, but it is fun. I think I felt the same way when having been here for 8 years, but single parenting and sole providing kept me busy. It is defo easier elsewhere. Still worth to look here, too. The weirdness here has a lovely yodelly, hikey and fromage flavor, really awesome.
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Old 03.08.2017, 22:13
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Re: Swiss-German personality/culture - what do you appreciate?

I appreciate this thread as I too feel a bit like the OP, struggling to fit in with the people here. I do love this country so much, but I'm not sure I'll make it for life (or even too much longer) because of this.

I would second another poster who said that you find about 1 great Swiss person in 10. I have found a very select few, and wish all Swiss could be more like them :P Instead, mostly when I'm out in public I just sort of feel reminded that I do feel so lonely and like I don't quite fit in. At least on my part, I do feel slightly more comfortable around the people where I'm at now in Bern than I did when I lived in Zurich, but I know that's all very subjective and varies from person to person, but maybe it depends on where you are?

One thing I like about the Swiss and Switzerland comes from something I heard once... that the Swiss treat you like adults. Yes, they have rules for everything (sigh), and yet they also assume that you'll be responsible at other times... like allowing drinking in public, or no rules for floating down the rivers etc. (In the US, there are all these rules on the "having of fun", as I see it)... it's nice to get to enjoy life without all those top-down rules for a change.

I admit, I also like that they have good timekeeping

I'm not sure it'll be enough to keep me here, but it does all leave me with a breaking heart thinking of leaving.
Hope you find a way to understand the people and culture a bit more, OP.
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Old 03.08.2017, 22:38
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Re: Swiss-German personality/culture - what do you appreciate?

Swiss people are honest on their opinion, they respect others. There are many things that I really like the way they think. We can learn and adapt.
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