10 signs you've been living in Switzerland for too long

10 signs you've been living in Switzerland for too long

Do you find yourself muttering in Swiss German about a small delay to the train you are using to visit the local lake, before buying yourself a farm-sourced steak topped with copious amounts of Aromat? You may be afflicted with Swissitus. To confirm your diagnosis, here are 10 signs you’ve been living in Switzerland for too long:

1. You get annoyed by a four-minute train delay

With Swiss trains as punctual as they are, it can sometimes come as a shock when they aren’t pitch-perfect. Just a four-minute delay appearing on platform screens will spark an audible series of tuts from all the passengers waiting, who now know that they will have to arrive at their desired destinations on time rather than early.

Even more disdain builds once the tannoy comes through with explanations that never quite satisfy like the "delay was caused by another train" - blaming it on someone else… typical. Can’t remember when a 20-minute rail delay was considered a rare treat? You might have been bitten by the Swiss bug!

2. You think paying seven francs for a beer in a bar is a good deal

Typical signs of Swissness also appear once you’re off your train and have started your night out. When you buy your first drink of the evening, especially if it contains alcohol, it can often feel like you need to take out a mortgage to pay for the next round.

But, given enough practice, you’ll soon get used to ordering drinks that are priced in the double digits. Zum wohl!

3. You hurl yourself in a lake or river when summer arrives

Overseas, the coming of summer usually means people head to a swimming pool or even abroad to take a refreshing dip. Not you though, a proper Swiss person doesn’t need a diving board or even a beach to cool off. They just jump into the local lake!

During the summer, Swiss lakes often get just as warm as swimming pools, and most swimming spots are completely free to use. Want more of a thrill? Join the residents of Basel or Bern in floating down rivers, or sign up for a rubber boat flotilla to take you downstream.

4. You look for a tray return in every restaurant

It’s the epilogue of every lunch out in Switzerland: returning your food tray to a rack placed somewhere in the cafeteria so that staff don't have to clear your dirty plates away. While sometimes a feature of schools and universities around the world, the Swiss have taken this concept to the next level, placing them in eateries ranging from the local tavern to the finest Michelin-star restaurants.

You can definitely tell the Swiss have got to you when you instinctively look for the return tray in every cafeteria, and worry whether it's okay to leave your trays on the table when you haven't spotted one.

5. You have strong opinions about which fondue is best

Gruyère, Emmental, Vacherin Fribourgeois, tomato, chilli or a bit of half-and-half (moitié-moitié)? While this may sound like the inventory of a cheese deli to someone outside the country, to a red-blooded Swiss it’s the start of a very heated debate: Which fondue is best?

If you know your favourite way to prepare fondue, have strong feelings as to whether to add white wine or schnapps (kirsch) to the mix, or have an irrational fear of drinking carbonated drinks with fondue, you might as well pick up your Swiss passport now.

6. You love Aromat

Sometimes the Tuesday evening hastily prepared meal after work could use some livening up, and for that, Switzerland has just the thing: Aromat. The complex spice mix (that also includes MSG) has been used across the country ever since its creation and has achieved cult status in the minds of the Swiss.

If you could see yourself taking a can of Aromat on holiday with you to make sure your all-inclusive meals taste like home, then you might be ready to take your naturalisation test.

7. You take a scarf everywhere you go

It’s practically a rule that if you are venturing outside, regardless of the temperature, it’s always a good idea to join the large crowd of Swiss people carrying a scarf. 

This somewhat strange policy has its origins in some good old-fashioned Swiss pseudo-science relating to the Föhn. The special wind brings hot air from the Mediterranean up through Swiss valleys, and it is claimed that the sudden change in temperature hitting your neck can cause an infection or Entzündung - citation sorely needed.

8. You think it’s mandatory to have a raclette set

For most people around the world, a raclette set is far down the list of cooking gadgets to buy. In Switzerland, however, it’s almost a surprise that one isn’t handed to you as you enter your new house or apartment.

Sure they are expensive, but what other dinner party can you throw where your guests have to do all the cooking?

9. You can’t get enough of farm shops, bio and Swiss-made food

Apples from Thurgau, wine from Vaud, chicken from Zurich and cheese from Bern. If this sounds like the contents of your fridge, then you are a true fan of Schweizer Qualität.

Extra bonus points if you have bought food from your local farm shop (Hofladen) and are able to explain what the “bio” label on Swiss products actually means.

10. You find yourself speaking Swiss German or worse… local dialekt

Finally, in the most serious cases, if you find yourself slipping into using Swiss German words and phrases, instead of the High German you learnt at school or on a course, you have already started the long road towards naturalisation. 

Your only hope now is to embrace your new Swissness, or try to get out of the country before you start using Baseler or Züritüütsch as well...

Thumb image credit: Sergei Bachlakov /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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