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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Zurich, Switzerland

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What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?


Did you receive any cross-cultural training for your move abroad? If yes, was it before or after the move?


Moving to Switzerland soon?

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If they speak another language in your new country, do you speak the language? If yes, did you learn the language before you moved or while abroad? If no, are you planning to learn the language?

I studied High German in evening classes. A basic understanding of German is very useful, numbers, colors, objects / items (eg shirts, trousers, pen, plants, chair, knife, fork,) because even if you can not construct a sentence at least the person you are communicating with has a subject. Most people will speak English, but a lot still do not or like me shy away from speaking another language even though they do understand a it.

Were you worried or concerned about culture shock before you moved abroad?


How significant was the culture shock you experienced when you moved abroad?

It is different, you just need to experience it to understand. Humor is a big way English speaking people use to communicate, this will mostly only work with fellow English speakers in Switzerland so your approach will be different with Swiss people.

Don't expect people who provide a service to bend over backwards to provide added value, the attitude seems to be here 'you want it' rather than 'there are 50 other people who can provide the same service so I better do a good job of being the one who gets the deal'. Example they will tell you when to be at home with a date and time that suits them.

Expats often talk about going through the "stages of culture shock." Examples include the honeymoon phase, the irritation-to-anger stage, the rejection of the culture stage, and the cultural adjustment phase. Do you feel like you went through these or any other stages as you settled into the new culture?

Went through all these stages over the last 10 years.

What, if any, were some of the changes you noticed in yourself that might have been caused by culture shock? These might include things such as anger, depression, anxiety, increased eating or drinking, frustration, homesickness, etc.

no comments (and good luck)

What are some things you appreciate most about the new culture?

Ease of life, less stress. lower taxes, better salary.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Humor, level of service, prices

Did you "commit" any embarrassing or humorous cultural blunders? If you did and you'd like to share them, please do tell!


Do you have any advice or thoughts about culture shock you would like to share?

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Comments about this Report

Nov 4, 2010 04:25

I agree with you 300% in all your points

May 29, 2013 17:47

Are there any ex-pats from the US living in Buchs, Switzerland> I am planning on retiring there and have visited an international Bible group there one Sunday this past Dec. during a visit. I speak passable German and have no trouble communicating with the Swiss and people in Liechtenstein. Are there retiree groups in Buchs that I could join? How about apartments that cater to retired people> Please include an e-mail address. Thank you, Lynne M.

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