• Claudio Enggist

    You want to get to know Swiss? Learn German!

    posted by  Claudio Enggist in Switzerland forum 

    Vanessa, I don't think you have to worry, if you are willing to give it time and to learn German. But be aware that we speak Swiss German in Switzerland which is considerably different from the German spoken in Germany. Why is the language so important? Let's face it. Whoever comes to the UK without being able to speak English will have a lot more difficulties to make friends than someone who speaks your language.

    Swiss tend to be much more reserved than many other Europeans. This very often comes across as cold or unfriendly. However, I think it has more to do with modesty and a big need for privacy. You do not want to stick out of the crowd in Switzerland. If you do, there must be something suspicious about you. Hence, people rather hold back. They might first observe you a bit, before they start a conversation. If people feel inferior, they might less likely talk to you. This is a strong generalization, of course. At the same time Swiss also don't want to show their weaknesses. Hence, if a Swiss does not speak English well (and many Swiss believe they don't), they will be much more reluctant to talk to you.

    One way to get to know Swiss is to get active in your community, in an association, sports club or whatever interests you. Getting to know people at work is more difficult, as Swiss tend to separate work from their private lives quite a bit (again, this is often true, but not always). However, for all these activities, you need to know German. Hence, get started now to learn German.

    It takes a lot of time and energy to get to know Swiss. But once you do, you can make great friendships that can last for a lifetime. Once a Swiss opens up to you, it is because the trust you and they like you. That might perhaps be a lot different from what you are used to.

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