10 Things I learned in Switzerland

  1. First off, everything is wicked expensive in Geneva, Switzerland. The average price for a cup of hot chocolate over there was about 8.50 CHFs (franks), about $11.30 in American dollars. So as you could imagine, souvenirs were limited.
  2. Every vehicle is either a Mercedes or Range Rovers. The public transportation is all Mercedes brand and the few cars that are in the city are all top notch brands. So you either drive a super nice car or ride a bike, and sometimes the occasional scooter.
  3. The streets are always very clean. Let’s just say that people are not complete slobs over in Geneva. There is very little litter on the city streets. However, any trash that is dropped is picked up by the street cleaners.
  4. Adding on the how everything is expensive, the minimum wage in Geneva, Switzerland is running around 20 CHFs (franks) per hour, which is about $26.6 US dollars per hour. Needless to say, any job is a job in Geneva. So, what one does for a job does not matter that much, which is why it is so easy for the government of Geneva to get people willing to clean streets.
  5. Everyone smokes, and by everyone, I mean everyone. From elderly people to young kids who appeared to be in about junior high, everyone smokes because it is just the “normal” thing to do there. Smoking is so accepted there, people will smoke in front of you like it’s no big deal as you are basically choking on second hand smoke.
  6. The trains and pretty much all public transportation is always on time. If the train says it is leaving at 4:07pm, then the train leaves at 4:07pm with or without you on it. We learned quickly to be on time.
  7. Geneva, Switzerland is not really a main tourist attraction. One of the only attractions there is a giant fountain in the lake and that is pretty much it. So, if you plan on going there for vacation I would not recommend putting aside a lot of time to spend in Geneva.
  8. People are very nice for living in a city. You do not have to worry about pick-pocketers or other scary people in a city while in Geneva; it is a very safe city, even at night. The amount of times I was called “ma ’dam “, when people were asking me to move, surprised me very much, compared to Boston where people just shoulder you out of the way.
  9. Nearly everyone in Europe speaks multiple languages, and in Switzerland most people speak French, German, and English. Switzerland boarders France and Germany, so it is more normal for many of the Swiss to learn both of those languages. But most learn English to compensate for the English speaking tourists, like myself, who do not know their native languages. So, just too quickly put that into perspective, I still struggle with English, the language I have been speaking for sixteen years, and that is still the only language I know. Never mind, speaking fluently in three languages.
  10. Anytime you go oversees I can almost guarantee that it will be an exciting trip, filled with new experiences from the differing cultures. So one last thing that I learned from my time in Switzerland is to submerge yourself in the European ways and embrace the culture. It is a great experience to visit Europe so you should always try to get the most out of your time there.