Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Guest Post: How to Make Friends in Switzerland, Part Two

By Chantal Panozzo

Last week over on ACC, I talked about the difficulty of making Swiss friends and gave a few tips for how to make friends with your neighbors.

Today, I want to tell you a story about my friend Peter. Peter recently started a new job in Zurich after changing companies and for his entire first two weeks at work, no one asked him if he’d like to go to lunch and most people barely acknowledged his existence. He told me he was frustrated with being ignored, but slowly, he started to make some friends, especially when he approached people first about  going to lunch or getting a drink. And Peter is Swiss.

The point? It’s not just you, the expat, having problems making Swiss friends. Even the Swiss people have trouble making Swiss friends. The main ingredient needed? Patience. Like the story of not knowing my neighbor’s first name for an entire year even though we ate cheese together a lot, the Swiss are private
people. They need to get used to you just being there. Slowly but surely, they will most likely warm up to you. Just give them the time and then, put in the effort. Learning a bit of their language will help too.

Even though you might be the new one at your office, it might have to be you to ask your Swiss officemates for a lunch date first. This can be a shock to Americans like myself, who may be used to organized welcome lunches on their first day of employment.

Strangely enough, another way I’ve made Swiss friends is through my blog.  I’ve had a number of “blogger blind dates” with some of my readers—in fact I have another one next week. Blogging is a great way to network, and you’d be surprised that there are Swiss out there that blog in English and by reading their blogs and leaving comments, you may just make a friend.

More information of making on friends in Switzerland can be found here:
Chantal Panozzo Bio: Chantal Panozzo is a writer and blogger. Besides keeping her own blog, One Big Yodel, she also blogs for a new expat community - www.affordablecallingcards.net. This blog offers affordable calling cards in Switzerland as well as information about living abroad in Switzerland and many other countries.
Thanks for a great post, Chantal! If you, too, would like to be a guest blogger on Swisstory while we are in transition, please email me at jessica (at ) swisstoryblog .com! 

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Kristi said...

For the second week in a row I am having Prosecco with my upstairs Swiss neighbor and speaking Deutsch. We are already on the "du" and first name basis. I have also been invited by my other Swiss neighbor to have drinks and speak German. I think they are individuals like us that are at the same time governed by their social norms. Swiss social norms appear to be hard on the Swiss too as Chantal pointed out. My husband learned it was he who had to bring in his birthday cake so maybe they expect the new person to invite everyone out to lunch???

Chantal said...

Yes, the new person pretty much has to do everything! It's totally foreign to us foreigners, who expect to be welcomed. That's great that you're meeting your Swiss neighbors though. That's how I started out with mine, although we didn't go to "du" for an entire year. But now we're going on a ski weekend together...I hope I can keep up...

Wide Eyed Gypsy said...

A friend who is 23, recenty moved into an apartment block in Geneva. He left a box of chocolates at all the doors in the building, introducing himself, and indicating that he would love to catch up for dinner.

A housewarming party that he threw a few weeks later had everyone attending, including the building concierge, and the bouncer fro the local pub!

Some out of the box thinking!

Kathy said...

Thanks for posting on the topic. I was so interested to hear that Swiss people have a hard time meeting new people as well.

An expat friend of mine just had a party to introduce herself to her neighbors. Of the 30 invitations that went out, she got only three responses (2 were polite declines). The people who accepted said they lived in the building for 15 years and still didn't know anyone. They had been so excited that they would finally get the chance...

Chantal said...

Hi Wide Eyed Gypsy and Kathy, wow, those are both great stories. I guess if you put in enough effort, you will get something out of it!

Elisa, The Unlikely Housewife said...

This is oh so true! The Swiss tend to hang out with people they have known for a long time - in my experience, it takes them a while to warm up, even when you'd think you'd have an "in" because your husband is a close friend (speaking from experience here ;-)).

LaurenMarieSays said...

Thanks for these posts! My parents moved to Basel recently, and I've just found myself here for a two month stay in between jobs/homes. I've been pretty frustrated by what's become my overwhelmingly homebody experience, and it's good to know I'm not the only one.


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