How about some facts I learned when I visited Switzerland for the first time? Having met others who have never heard these things, I thought there’s a chance if you’ve never been here, that you haven’t either. Some of them are relevant to me and my process of #makingithome and others are a bit random– though they all give some interesting background and context to the country we often imagine for Heidis and grandpas with sheep and a swiss chalet.
- Switzerland has four national languages. German, French, Italian, and Romansh. That last one is a language of Latin leftovers stemming from the ancient Roman empire. I haven’t heard it spoken yet (that I know of) and it isn’t too common, but it is officially one of the “official” languages.
- Most know that Switzerland is divided up into cantons, but the cantons are also lumped together in three different sections. There’s the German part, the Italian part, and the French part. Not only does the primary spoken language vary in these places, but the culture does too. They are each known for different styles and paces of life. I like all of them for different reasons!
- Switzerland is considered the most neutral country in the world and is very famous for that. A lesser known fact however, is that the Swiss themselves are, generally speaking, not neutral and have some of the strongest, unchanging opinions in the whole world.
- Swiss men must serve at least 6 months in the military or carry out some form of community service. They are allowed to keep their military rifle when they return home from the military, therefore it’s incredibly normal that a home has a firearm and that someone there knows how to shoot it. I’ve also heard, however, that the ammunition for the military rifles is specially issued on an “as needed” basis, for example in the case of an outside threat. They are not allowed to just stick some in their bag and carry it home with themselves and their rifle. However, it’s normal for a Swiss person to own another kind of gun as well and to hear one say they are going down to the shooting range for the afternoon. Step one foot across the border into Germany and most have never shot a gun and have no desire to!
- Not everyone skis here. But obviously a lot of people do. But I never have. But that’s not the point here. We live by a huge lake and actually it isn’t common for there to be a lot of snow here. The alps are not too far away though, so it’s definitely on my bucketlist to ski once.
- Switzerland ranks very high on the world list of most expensive places to have a cup of coffee. I was quite sure of this just by my own careful experiential research *wink, wink* but I’ve seen it documented by others as well. Starbucks is a rare treat and you have no idea what “guilty pleasure” feels like until you’ve ordered your favorite seasonal flavor, “a taste of home” and proceed to count out the francs for it.
What do you think of when you think of Switzerland? Did any of these facts surprise you?