About a month ago I left Japan and went back to Switzerland. I was really sad because it felt like I just went there. But I was also looking forward to seeing all of my friends and family. I thought that I’d have no trouble getting used to Switzerland again – after all I was born and raised there. But that wasn’t the case. I had the biggest culture shock or rather reverse culture shock in Switzerland.
That‘s why this week I want to talk about my reverse culture shock in Switzerland.
Fields And Fields And Fields
Switzerland is one big field.
At least that‘s what I thought when I looked out of the window before landing in Zurich. Wherever you go in Switzerland, you’re never far away from farmland. In my hometown, they’ve just finished building a “skyscraper” (about 100m tall). And right next to it is – you guessed it – a field.
That’s the exact opposite of Japan. Where wherever you look, you see houses.
Sunset Is Late
I don‘t really know why I‘m mentioning this here. But I was really surprised how late the sun sets here in Switzerland.
I guess there‘s a reason for why Japan is called the land of the rising sun and not the land of the setting sun. Sunset in Japan is so early that you would have to end your BBQ party at 8 o’clock because you couldn’t see anything.
As I wrote in an earlier blog post, Japan has the most convenient convenience stores on the planet (read more).
I could go shopping whenever I wanted to. Be it 3 o’clock in the morning on a sunday, my nearest convenience store would be open. So when I wanted to go buy some groceries in Switzerland on a Sunday, I was quite surprised.
Because in Switzerland shops don’t open on Sundays.
Bells Ringing All Of The Time
Swiss people hate noise. You aren‘t allowed to make any noice between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. And obviously on Sunday you can‘t make any noise either. You‘re also not allowed to make any noise from 12 o‘clock to 1 o‘clock in the afternoon on any day of the week. And if you do your neighbour calls the police.
Despite that Switzerland isn‘t as quite as you‘d suppose it is. Because bells are ringing all of the time. I get that this could be useful in case you‘d forgot your watch and cell phone. But who does?
My Class Feels Empty
In Japan there were about 35 students in one class. And the whole school counts about 5000 students.
So when I entered the classroom in Switzerland, I was quite surprised. First I thought that everybody was late, but no, there were actually only 19 other students in my class. But I think that that’s a good thing.
Streets in Switzerland Are Wide
I wouldn’t have called Swiss streets wide before I went to Japan. But after having lived there for more than a year, I really felt like streets here are huge.
And it’s not just streets. In Japan almost nobody owns a garden. And the space between two houses is about one metre. Now compare that to Switzerland where everybody has a garden as big as a Japanese house.
Actually I shouldn’t be surprised at all. Because the town I live in has a population of 27’000 people. And Higashi-Osaka were I lived during my exchange in Japan had a population of about 500’000 people. And with such a gigantic population you can’t build in the way we do in Switzerland.
Switzerland Loves Its Flag
This might not seem as obvious to you if you live in Switzerland or are from a country like the US. But there are so many national flags here compared to Japan.
At the end of my exchange year I wanted to buy a Japanese flag, so that friends of mine could write a message on it. So I went to a sporting goods shop wanting to buy a Japanese flag. But they didn’t have any and the shop clerk advised me to order one online.
Also everywhere else, there are no Japanese flags. The only places where you might see one are at a stadium, on the top of a mountain or an important sightseeing spot.
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I hoped you like this article about my reverse culture shock in Switzerland.
Thank you for reading!