The idea of this mission came to me by accident, but as we know, nothing in this life is accidental. I was on a train from Italy to Lausanne, Switzerland, when after crossing Italian-Swiss border a ticket inspector came to me, asking for the ticket. I showed her my reservation confirmation in my phone. She said that this reservation is not valid and that I should have a paper ticket and that it is written in the conditions of the ticket. I started arguing that she just needs to check my reservation number (PNR) and that it is an electronic ticket and actually conditions claim that I do NOT need to get a paper ticket. Her answer was that it is true for Italian ticket inspectors, but not for Swiss ones, as Swiss system is different. In the end I had to buy another ticket, but I did not have to pay a fine.
I was upset. I felt it is unfair. I had a ticket and I did everything right. Why so? Why me? And then I have realised… I consider Swiss being rigid and squared, not flexible and not understanding. And guess what? My thoughts materialised – I had received what I expected. Rigid ticket inspector, who did not want to think out of the box. Fair enough.
Recently I have finished reading a book from my favourite series “Xenophobes guide to Swiss” – about Swiss people and Swiss culture. There was written that Swiss have numerous and sometimes silly rules and none will question them, they just obey them. Again, this materialised in one case at my work (that’s another long story to describe).
I have been going to Switzerland back and forwards since December 2012 for work. Before that I had never been to Switzerland and thought that it is an ideal country for me – clean, organised, where everything works well and people are super punctual. These months actually showed me that my picture of Switzerland is far from reality – the country is not that clean, people are afraid to think out of box and in general rules here are weird. I was visiting French part, where none of the service providers (shop assistants, technicians etc) was able to speak any other language than French (I offered to communicate in German, Italian and English, but in most of the cases we ended up me speaking in English and them answering in French).
However that case with the train ticket made me re-think my attitude. Switzerland and Swiss people cannot be that bad. Besides, I like my Swiss colleagues, even though I do think that some of them might be less reserved, but may be we just did not have a chance to get to know each other better. I have suddenly realised that for my negative feelings I get negative results. I expect Swiss being rigid – I get rigidness. So obviously, to get positive results, I need to change my thoughts and expectations.
I believe that you can be happy wherever you are, thus if you are unhappy then it is something what you can change. Circumstances are not good or bad, they are neutral, the key is your attitude and acceptance.
Today I remembered another phrase from the book “when you ask a Swiss service provider to do something, in the beginning he/she will tell you that it is impossible, and only after an hour or so pursuing, you will get what you want”. So today, when I was ordering a present and I was told that it is impossible to make it on time, I accepted the rules of the game and continued the conversation, and after ca. 10 minutes the lady agreed to take the order and actually she even was going to make it earlier than needed! Miracle! It works!
What are your experiences of Swiss culture? Have you ever felt that a country and/or its people are against you? What did you do in this situation? What can I do to “learn” to love Switzerland and Swiss people?
I will be looking forward your comments and help! =)
Greetings from little, but proud Switzerland!
“Happy Abroad, happy wherever you are!” =)