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Let's Start at the Beginning- Europe

 I figure that the most important thing you do in life is to experience it and a big part of that is travel.  Europe was my first trip abroad, and it gave me an excitement for learning about the world that I would have never gained from books, and I ... read more

Jessica Michael

SwitzerlandSwitzerland

Interlaken, Switzerland

  Interlaken translates to in-between lakes. It's in the German speaking part of Switzerland, but everyone there is tri-lingual (French and English being the other two). We met a guy named Ian on the train through Germany who was from D.C. Small world. He is studying in Friedburg, Germany, where ... read more

Matthew Delman

SwitzerlandSwitzerland

Escalators, doggy hitching posts, and doors that close really, really fast.

Lausanne, Switzerland. End of day 3. (I think) Before I left the US for this study abroad trip, everyone told me the days would go by really fast- and I assumed they were correct. Time flies when you’re having fun right? Wrong. At least not this time. Things might begin ... read more

Paula  Harman

SwitzerlandSwitzerland

No peanut butter, cheddar cheese, or deli meat!

Grocery shopping in Switzerland is definitely a task. First of all- the prices are outrageous. I bought a small package of taco seasoning (yes, the Swiss have Mexican food!!) today for chf1.80! In American dollars that’s almost the same- almost $2.00 for a package of taco seasoning that would cost ... read more

Paula  Harman

SwitzerlandSwitzerland

A Merry Christmas Journey

Greetings     It’s been a month now since I left and I have put in a ridiculous amount of miles, pages read, people met, experiences gained and all the rest of that jazz. But more seriously I have had the trip of a lifetime and I have spent a lot ... read more

Andrew Uden

SwitzerlandSwitzerland

Section 1: Visa trouble.

So, as it turns out, I will not be going to Geneva on September 10, the date my plane ticket says. The reason? Switzerland is so amazing that I might try to stay there forever. [According to the Swiss authorities.] So I only get 90 days. (If I'd had the ... read more

Amy T

SwitzerlandSwitzerland

Ermatingen Locals

  Some new friends in Ermatingen, Switzerland.   read more

Alison .Ciarleglio

SwitzerlandSwitzerland

Auf Wiedersehen

Ade. Auf Wiedersehen. Tschüss. Au revoir. Ciao. My time as a Glimpse Correspondent is coming to a close, but my time in Switzerland is not. I just celebrated my three-year anniversary here on June 19. To keep up with my adventures in Switzerland from this point on, feel free to ... read more

Chantal  Panozzo

SwitzerlandSwitzerland

Becoming Swiss

Dealing with four official languages in Switzerland is one thing. Dealing with body language and mannerisms is quite another. After living in Switzerland for three years, I now react differently to situations than I used to when I lived in the U.S. For example, I used to stand back from ... read more

Chantal  Panozzo

SwitzerlandSwitzerland

Construction. Cranes. This calls for a party.

There's no doubt about it. The Swiss love construction projects. They are written about in newspapers. Cranes are decorated at Christmastime. And construction schedules are posted on billboards, which the Swiss people read as if they were god's gift to entertainment. Maybe the Swiss just have so much money they ... read more

Chantal  Panozzo

SwitzerlandSwitzerland

Sales in Switzerland

The Swiss are some of the least price-sensitive people you'll ever meet. $5 for a glass of water? $20 for a movie ticket? $50 for a t-shirt? They don't blink an eye. Needless to say, I don't go out much and try to limit my shopping to the essentials—except for ... read more

Chantal  Panozzo

SwitzerlandSwitzerland

Swiss Transportation: Almost too good?

One of the things that happens after living in Switzerland for awhile is that you get used to its excellent public transportation system and start assuming neighboring countries like Italy and France will also have transportation options that can whisk you away in a timely fashion to a town in ... read more

Chantal  Panozzo

SwitzerlandSwitzerland

How to Land an International Assignment

I get a lot of emails asking me the best way to find a job abroad. So I thought I'd discuss it here so anyone who is interested can benefit. In my experience, the best way to get an international assignment—especially if you’re a recent college graduate—is to work for ... read more

Chantal  Panozzo

SwitzerlandSwitzerland

The Smiling Swiss

The Swiss generally aren't outwardly friendly. If you saw them on the street, you'd think no one was nice. But first impressions aren't a true measure of Swiss friendliness. When you get to know people, they are some of the most loyal and pleasant people you'll meet. But still. Even ... read more

Chantal  Panozzo

SwitzerlandSwitzerland

Customer Service in Switzerland

Customer service in Switzerland is much different than customer service in the United States. In Switzerland, the customer is not always right. Here, customers are expected to be more responsible. For example, if you buy a shirt in the wrong size, the store isn't obligated to take it back even ... read more

Chantal  Panozzo

SwitzerlandSwitzerland

Zurich's Fall From Grace

Well, Zurich, Switzerland has just fallen from grace. It is no longer #1 on the Mercer Scale of the city with the highest quality of life in the world. It is #2. How disappointing. All I can say is, it must have been the weather that caused Vienna to overtake ... read more

Chantal  Panozzo

SwitzerlandSwitzerland

Spat and Spew

Out of all the places in Switzerland, the first confirmed case of Swine Flu is in my little spa town of Baden. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to deter anyone from going about their usual habits of spewing germs every which way on public transportation.   Before I moved to Switzerland, ... read more

Chantal  Panozzo

SwitzerlandSwitzerland

The Price for Ice

I don't know about you, but I find almost SFr 10 ($8.60) a little pricey for a tiny container of ice cream, so I rarely purchase it in Switzerland. Now I know this country is one of the most expensive in the world. But what doesn't make sense to me ... read more

Chantal  Panozzo

SwitzerlandSwitzerland

The Beggar of Baden

I live in a small Swiss town of about 16,000 residents. Granted, this is big enough that you’ll never recognize some people at all and others just by their dogs. But there are certain people you just get to know. It's probably no accident that these include the more colorful ... read more

Chantal  Panozzo

SwitzerlandSwitzerland

Win a Vacuum Cleaner!

The Swiss love vacuum cleaners. Whenever there’s a competition, the prize always seems to be a vacuum cleaner. You have to give these contest-makers credit. They really know what gets people excited in Switzerland.   In this week’s Tages Anzeiger newspaper, for example, three lucky people will win a Siemens ... read more

Chantal  Panozzo

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Books

Bring them from Home

Chantal Panozzo

02 Apr 2009

Switzerland

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At first glance, it appears that almost every other book you’ll find in Switzerland is written in English. Even after living in Switzerland for three years, I still fall for these English-titled, yet German-translated books. But that’s ok. Since the average paperback book costs about $20 and a hardcover $40, your best bet is to bring all your reading materials from home.

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Getting Around

Take Public Transport

Chantal Panozzo

02 Apr 2009

Switzerland

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Chantal  Panozzo

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Don’t even think about driving a car around Switzerland. There’s no need. The tram will take to you the train that takes you to the bus that takes you to the chair lift that takes you to the glacier. All of this efficiency comes at a price though. Switzerland has the second highest public transportation costs in Europe after the UK. But public transport is still a better deal than a car. And this way, you’ll never be late (not to mention lost) for that hot date you’ve got in the middle of nowhere.

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Festivals & Events

Carnival in Basel

Chantal Panozzo

02 Apr 2009

Switzerland

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Chantal  Panozzo

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To see Switzerland at its least Swiss (or most Swiss, depending on how you look at it) don’t miss Carnival in Basel, held every winter. Creative costumes and masks. All night music. And a lantern show that’s part political statement, part art exhibition. And then there’s the carpet of confetti that covers the usual spotless Swiss streets. But you’ll have to hurry. The party only lasts 72 hours. And the street sweepers are just waiting to pounce.

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Culture Shock

Stop that Smiling

Chantal Panozzo

02 Apr 2009

Switzerland

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If you go around smiling at people and being overly friendly, the Swiss will think you have mental problems. I have had to train myself not to look directly at people and smile when I pass them. It's nothing personal, but people here keep to themselves and don't show much emotion in public. For a good example of this, visit a Swiss casino. The bells will be ringing and money will be pouring out of a slot machine, but you won't hear one human exclamation of victory.

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Must Do

Swim at the Spa

Chantal Panozzo

02 Apr 2009

Switzerland

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Chantal  Panozzo

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Visit a Swiss spa. For about $20, you can relax in a bubbling swimming pool filled with hot mineral water. Some spas have jets for body massages, bubbling lounge chairs, lazy rivers, and even pools filled with rose petals. Try the spas in Baden, Bad Schinznach, Bad Ragaz, Bad Zurzach, or Vals.

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Etiquette

Enjoy your meal

Chantal Panozzo

02 Apr 2009

Switzerland

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Chantal  Panozzo

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When you sit down to eat in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, do not start eating your food until you have said, "En Guete" to everyone you’re sitting with (even if you don’t know them—table sharing is common in tiny Switzerland). “En Guete” means "Bon Appétit" in Swiss German. Even if you are eating a picnic by yourself in the middle of a meadow, chances are someone will bike by and yell an "en guete" at you. They are just wishing you a nice meal. And if you're passing someone who's eating, you should return the favor.

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Food

Nothing is Free

Chantal Panozzo

02 Apr 2009

Switzerland

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Chantal  Panozzo

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Don't expect extras. Bread doesn't come with butter. Fries don't come with ketchup. A ham sandwich doesn't come with lettuce and a tomato. A Coke doesn't come with ice. All of these things you can certainly ask for, but don't be surprised if you are charged extra for them.

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Film

The Original

Chantal Panozzo

02 Apr 2009

Switzerland

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Chantal  Panozzo

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Most films are shown in their original language in Swiss movie theaters since the population speaks so many languages themselves. If the film is shown in English with German and French subtitles for example, it will be listed as E/d/f. Whatever letter is capitalized is the language the film will be shown in. Luckily for English speakers, very few Hollywood films are dubbed in Switzerland, with the exception of children's movies.

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Packing

Come for one season. Pack for them all.

Chantal Panozzo

02 Apr 2009

Switzerland

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Chantal  Panozzo

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Umbrellas. Sweaters. Hiking Shoes. Don't end up like one of those tourists in shorts standing on the top of a snowy mountain in July wondering why they're cold. The weather is unpredictable in Switzerland, even in the summers. It's like the month of March just keeps repeating itself all year round. Best bet in the summers is to invest in a pair of pants that can double as pants and shorts. Zipping off half your pants mid-hike is a popular activity in Switzerland, and you won’t want to miss out.

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Religion

Don't Declare

Chantal Panozzo

02 Apr 2009

Switzerland

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Chantal  Panozzo

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Declare a religion when you register to live in Switzerland and you've just set yourself up to pay extra taxes. After all, nothing is free in Switzerland. Not even belief. That's why many people keep their religion to themselves. Although you wouldn't know it from the loud church bells.

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Politics

Watch Your Borders

Chantal Panozzo

02 Apr 2009

Switzerland

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Chantal  Panozzo

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Switzerland has very few national laws; most things are determined by state. And Switzerland, a third of the size of Illinois, has 26 of them. This means that within a 10-mile radius, everything from educational systems to smoking laws can be very different. So while you could be fined hundreds of Swiss Francs for smoking in Geneva, in Baden, you can smoke without penalty just about anywhere.

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Music

Listen for Stress

Chantal Panozzo

02 Apr 2009

Switzerland

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Chantal  Panozzo

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Radio Stations. Restaurants. The Singing Christmas Tree at the Zurich Christmas Market. They all have one thing in common--American music. Unfortunately, it's hard to find much Swiss influence in today's popular music, but it's there if you look for it. A good example is the Swiss Rapper Stress. He raps in French about everything from dating to politics, and his albums cross the language divide in Switzerland; the French lyrics are even translated into German on his website.

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Sports

Wrestle for a Cow

Chantal Panozzo

02 Apr 2009

Switzerland

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Chantal  Panozzo

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Don't miss a Schwingen match. Schwingen is a popular form of Swiss Wrestling. While hiking the Alps, you just might come upon a couple of men wearing burlap diapers and grabbing at each other on a mound of sawdust. Forget the WWF; entertainment just doesn't get much better than this. Especially when the prize is a cow. For a list of upcoming Schwingen events, visit http://www.schwingerverband.ch/index.asp?menuid=1&sid=15

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TV

One Show. Four languages.

Chantal Panozzo

02 Apr 2009

Switzerland

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Chantal  Panozzo

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Switzerland does a lot of low-budget rip-offs of German and American TV shows. One fun example to look for is the Swiss show, Supermodel, where a bunch of girls compete to be the “next top model” in Switzerland by going through different challenges every week. But the most interesting part of this show isn't the girls practicing the catwalk in their stilettos on Zurich's cobblestone streets; it's watching them interacting in various languages all at once and still somehow understanding each other.

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Fashion

Bring your black

Chantal Panozzo

02 Apr 2009

Switzerland

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Chantal  Panozzo

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To me, Switzerland often looks like an endless funeral procession--at least in Zurich. Black coats. Black boots. Black skinny jeans. To fit in, wear your black and wear it tight. And leave those white socks and baseball hats at home.

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Dating

Go Online

Chantal Panozzo

02 Apr 2009

Switzerland

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Chantal  Panozzo

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Nothing like a first date activity of milking a cow. But then again, this is nothing out of the ordinary--at least in rural areas of Switzerland. To find your future Swiss farmer (or lawyer or banker), check out the most popular online dating sites in Switzerland, which include swissflirt, friendscout24, meetic, and match.com.

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Health

The Big Desk

Chantal Panozzo

02 Apr 2009

Switzerland

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Chantal  Panozzo

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The best part about going to a doctor in Switzerland is the "Big Desk." While still in your street clothes, you will talk with the doctor at their desk and discuss your medical problems. For an American, talking to an actual doctor before being in some state of undress is a novelty and a practice that should be adapted worldwide. I think if more doctors took time to listen, there'd be a lot fewer medical bills.

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Slang

It is shitting on me

Chantal Panozzo

02 Apr 2009

Switzerland

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Chantal  Panozzo

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“Es scheisst mich an”, literally means, “it is shitting on me” in German. But don’t worry, it’s really just an angry way of saying “I’ve had enough.” I learned it while working in a Swiss office, but it’s also the perfect phrase to use to use with Mother Nature, who can’t seem to do anything but cover Switzerland with a constant fog cloud from October until March.

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Nightlife

Lollipop, Lollipop

Chantal Panozzo

02 Apr 2009

Switzerland

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Chantal  Panozzo

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If you want to try something a little different, try going to a Swiss Lollipop Party. Besides lollipops hanging from the ceiling of the club, you'll be treated to a DJ who plays German oldies all night long. And all the young people will be singing and dancing along with music that was before their time. Parties usually start around 10 p.m. with a cover charge of about SFr 20.

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Being an American

Obama Mania

Chantal Panozzo

02 Apr 2009

Switzerland

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Chantal  Panozzo

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Before Obama was elected, I used to whisper a lot. I didn't want people to hear my American English and not like me because of it. But after Obama was elected, I started speaking English in a normal voice again. Somehow, I went from being ashamed to being proud overnight. It was a strange transformation.

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