Impressions of Switzerland after (nearly) nine months

road with trees on each side

  1. People want to know if I like living here, and I usually say, ‘what’s not to like?’ Truthfully, I understand why so many people who plan to come to Switzerland for only a short time tend to stay much, much longer, eventually getting their Swiss citizenship and relinquishing their U.S. passport. Most days it’s like living a dream.
  1. I have stopped trying to have fun at the expense of the Swiss. Remember my ‘überpünktlich’ post from my first months here, what I thought was gentle teasing about how time conscious most Swiss are? No more of that. Why? I find that I don’t like the comments I hear from the Swiss about the U.S., so have decided to apply some version of the Golden Rule. I wish the worst thing I could say about Americans is that they look at their watches too much. You should hear what I hear.
  1. Does that mean I have no complaints about Switzerland? I didn’t say that. I am growing weary, for example, of the many speeding tickets I seem to be accumulating. For going 33 kph in a 30 kph zone. Really? Before I go completely broke, paying these 40 CHF fines, I need to find out where those cameras are and calculate alternate routes.
  1. The Swiss are good drivers. They tend to tailgate a lot, but that may be because I’ve had to slow down to a crawl. (Have my American readers made the conversion to realize how slow 30 kph really is?)
  1. I’m remembering all the times I heard as a child in school about the U.S. being ‘the greatest democracy in the world.’ I’m starting to think the people who said that never spent much time outside the U.S.
  1. I’m also remembering all the times I heard that the church in Europe is dead. Where did that ever come from? Not from anyone who has ever spent any time here. Missionaries arrive daily from the U.S. to ‘reach the unreached,’ which is wonderful, but based on what information? I think American tourists like to visit the great cathedrals of Europe and then conclude that the church on this continent has no future. What those tourists seem to miss are the many vibrant, active, growing Christian communities here, like the church I serve, for example. The church appears to be very much alive, thank you very much.
  1. American popular music is ubiquitous. (And not only that, it’s everywhere.) Turn on the car radio, and there it is. Evidence of American popular culture is all around – not only the music, but also Starbucks, Burger King, and the big Apple store on Bahnhofstrasse, one of the nicer streets for shopping in Zürich. I tend to avoid all of it, except for the car radio (listening to the news is important for my language learning).
  1. Still haven’t met Heidi. (Or Tina Turner.)

About Doug

I have been a writer ever since fifth grade when I won second prize in a “prose and poetry” contest. I am also a Presbyterian pastor, and for several years toward the end of my career I lived and worked in Zürich, Switzerland. I am now retired and live just north of Holland, Michigan, along the lake.

5 Responses to Impressions of Switzerland after (nearly) nine months

  1. Burdette (Bud) Palmberg November 5, 2014 at 12:28 pm #

    Had the joy of serving as pastor in Lucerne for seven years. I am in agreement.

    • Doug November 7, 2014 at 4:24 am #

      Welcome to the blog, Bud! Are you still in CH?

  2. Heidi Gagnon November 6, 2014 at 7:16 pm #

    Heidi is still in Wheaton but wishes she was in Switzerland!

    • Doug November 7, 2014 at 4:13 am #

      Thanks, Heidi. All these years I have never associated you with Switzerland. Must be that you’ve never had long, golden braids. 🙂

  3. Diane Meier November 11, 2014 at 9:57 am #

    Getting to know a a new country is like getting to know a possible new friend: best to listen for a long time first. The country can also, much too easily (it can’t answer back), become a whipping boy, if we feel far away and unhappy! Heidi is best found in the book itself, deeply Christian and also explaining aspects of the Swiss character that are still relevant today.
    Well worth a second glance!