Making Friends with the Swiss part 2 & Differences Between a Swiss and a UK Woman’s Lifestyle

There has been said, or I should say written, a lot about this topic, how old fashioned the Swiss are and that they would love to see women only behind a stove slaving their days away with household chores. To explain this way of thinking a bit better, and the reasons behind it, I have assembled an article and use the example of a UK woman's vs. a Swiss woman's life style over the past 60 years.

It is easier said than done to change a whole nation, that it takes so much time to happen here, has it’s reasons…………………..

IMHO, people can only start to modernise something if they understand the traditions behind a reason, where they come/stem from and most importantly what they mean to the people involved.

One cannot come from a foreign country and want to change the new country into what one’s used from back home.

To get to grips with the Swiss, if you want them to be your friends - they are Swiss, not American or British or Finish or whatever - they are Swiss, proud to be and they are traditionalists -so   people should stop attacking them for what they are and stand in for, and not wanting to change them into something the Swiss can not identify with!

Because this will trigger more resistance than openness or understanding! I agree it is not easy to make friends amongst the Swiss, but if you do so, you have a friend for life!

We Swiss take friendships seriously and not in the *knock on the shoulder, hi buddy way*.

The Swiss are funny people – they build things to last – forever – even to a fault sometimes.  That is what I refer to; when I say that they (we) are traditionalists.  They take a lot of time to make decisions and build things (including friendships).  This is because they do it for a long term.  Unlike the “laid back” natures of the Americans, the British, the Dutch and the Italians –the Swiss rarely “enjoy something for the moment with a stranger”.  They would rather enjoy the time with their “close and real” friends. If you want to have a long-term friendship with a couple of Swiss, then you need to invest the time, energy and respect that they will demand from you. 

But I got carried away with what I wanted initially to say :-) about the differences between a Swiss and a woman from another country, in my example, from the UK.

The background of the two is completely different, whereas in other countries such as the UK it is more common for a woman to work, made easier for her by daylong schools, after-school clubs and activities etc. Plus the average DAYLONG working hours in the UK are 9 to 5, this is of course perfect for women wanting to go back to work after she had her children as it fits with the timetables of schools, and these helps on hand, are long established in the UK, I'd guess since at least 70 years, if not longer!

In Switzerland the whole thing and approach to this is, completely the opposite, though times are changing now slowly and surely with women having gone to university/had a career and not wanting to loose the 'touch' with the working world.

Contrary to other countries it was never common for the average Swiss woman to go out to work just for her sake/well-being/career and not for need of the money. This is still considered as normal here!
In fact, it was a sign of average wealth if a women didn't HAVE to go to work...............

I'm not speaking of farmers here, where it was always clear that the woman was looking after house, poultry and garden where as the men worked in the fields and did other physically hard work!

If a woman had to go to work, it was often the family who took care of the child/ren a Gran, an Aunt or another relative, the net was tightly woven and everybody was supported very well within the family.

So there was simply no need for a crèche and other such institutions for quite a long time! Nowadays with family's breaking up more easily, this net of course is not as present as it used to be and so leaves many women in the lurch:-( who has to go or wants to go back to work.

However, I have seen both sides and when I was a teenager it was always crystal clear for me that I want to be a full time mum and housewife one day. And you'd be surprised to hear how many Swiss women think alike................

I trained as a geriatric nurse and worked awful shifts for a pittance of money at the end of the month. When I had my eldest daughter, I was a single mom, by my choice.

Yes, I had a crèche on hand and I had family who looked after my girl when I had to do night shifts, weekends etc. But I always had the feeling that I missed too much out of my eldest daughters upbringing! The girls at the crèche or my mom witnessed things that have been important in my child’s live. When you are a working parent, you miss out on too much IMHO in your child's live and it is not you who rears the child, it's the child minders who do it for you.

So why have children in the first place, if one does not want to look after them???? Is it worth to have a career only to feel bad at the end of the day, when you feel tired, you haven't seen your kid the whole day and all you want is sometime for you alone and you child is more a disturbance than a joy??  Been there, felt that, so I know what I am talking about!!!!

When my middle daughter was born three months premature, I immediately stopped working and haven't regretted it since, on contrary I am now feeling bad, as I realize how much missed in my first daughters life and I am grateful to my hubby that he works all hours god sends to enable me to stay home and look after our three children!


Sylvie is a born and bred Swiss woman who dedicates a lot of her time , trying to help expatriates understand Switzerland and the Swiss a little bit better, by explaining customs and behaviour out of her vast  knowledge of  her homecountry.She's married and a busy mom of three girls.