I moved from New York to Switzerland for 3 months. Here are the seven things that surprised me the most.

  • Me Moved from New York City to Basel, SwitzerlandFor 3 months in 2020.

  • My time abroad was full of surprises, from clean public transport to $ 15 pizza.

  • The city seems to be running at a slower pace than New York, and I found it safe to explore it alone.

I moved from New York to Switzerland in 2020.

After my partner accepted a job in Basel, he praised his incredible quality of life, low crime, and work-life balance. All of these had a positive impact on his mental health.

His explanation of life in Switzerland seemed immeasurable to me. New Yorker I feel overworked and depressed during the coronavirus pandemic.so I I packed 3 months’ worth of clothes I put it in my bag and headed to Switzerland to join him.

Here is what surprised me most overseas.

Many of the Swiss I met were kind and friendly and seemed to be working at a much slower pace than New Yorkers.

A group of Swiss and pedestrians walking along the river

Many of the Swiss I met seemed to be more laid back than I expected.Celeste Polanco

In New York City, everything is fast paced.Your coffee order Created within secondsPeople are constantly rushing to their next destination and the conversation is short.

It’s easy to label every New Yorker rude, but we’re usually just busy. And if you had to pay New York rent, you would probably have a fight too.

When I moved to Switzerland, I was shocked at how laid-back, polite and friendly the people I met. However, it took some time for them to get used to the slow pace of movement.

for example, The local barista seemed really interested How was my day going and wasn’t in a hurry? With a warm smile, he handed me my drink as I requested.

As I walked towards the table, I noticed that a man was occupying the table while I was gone. As soon as I approached him, he apologized, removed the crumbs from the coffee cake, and moved to another place.

The New Yorkers in me were confused by our conflict-free exchange. I think it was more comfortable for some of me to get the middle finger instead.

While in Switzerland, I was impressed and stunned by the kindness and patience of strangers.

I felt completely safe for a woman traveling in Switzerland

Celeste Polanco walking in a Swiss park and laughing over her shoulder

While in Switzerland, I felt very safe.Celeste Polanco

As a woman, I always About my safety..

In New York, we are always aware of what we wear, how late we are in the city, the safest route to get home, and strategies to avoid unpleasant cat calls.

Being a Swiss woman was different. I could walk safely alone and had no urge to glance over my shoulder for any signs of danger.

One day I had coffee with my Swiss friend and by the time I left, the sun was setting. We walked along the Rhine on our way home. When we broke up, I asked her to send me a text when she returned home — my girlfriend in New York always does.

She smirked and said, “Girl, this is Switzerland. You don’t have to worry about it here.”

And according to research by Georgetown University Women’s Institute for Peace and Security and the Oslo Institute for International Peace Swiss women, published in 2021, often find it safer to walk alone at night than women in the United States.

According to the 2019 survey referenced in the survey 81.9% A percentage of women over the age of 15 reported feeling safe walking alone at night in Switzerland. 70.6% Of American women.

The public transport I used was clean and running on time

Swiss bus in front of the building

In my experience, Swiss public transport was very clean and reliable.Celeste Polanco

I have never had a problem moving around New York City. Transportation isn’t perfect (it can be late and not always clean), but there are plenty of buses, taxis and trains in the city so you can get wherever you want 24 hours a day.

I’m worried when traveling outside New York City Work on a new system of public transportation.. Thankfully, Switzerland has exceeded my expectations.

We found that most people in Basel travel by bicycle or train. While I was there, trains and buses were rarely delayed, so I was able to get to where I wanted to go with little or no hassle.

As an additional bonus, Swiss public transport felt perfect cleanliness compared to the New York subway, taxis and buses.

The people around me didn’t seem to be consumed by their phone

Switzerland as seen from aerial photographs

It was really fun to be able to see the scenery around Switzerland.Celeste Polanco

On the New York City Subway, many people look down on their cell phones or break books.

When people got on public transport in Switzerland There were few on their phone.. Instead, they seem to be talking to each other, Enjoy the beauty of Basel Through the window.

It was refreshing to witness people so present.

As I was immersed in Swiss culture, I sometimes found it strange to unplug my cell phone. When I stopped taking pictures, I noticed many times that some people were staring at me.

In fact, I was a millennial tourist of phone addiction.

In conversations with my Swiss friends, I noticed that there was less racial talk than when I was in the United States.

Celeste Polanco standing in front of a Swiss street building

I moved to Basel for three months during a pandemic.Celeste Polanco

For three months in Switzerland, I’ve noticed that conversations with friends come up less often with racial topics than when I was in the United States.

In America it was natural for me Discuss racism and my own experience of racism With friends.

After working with police officers, I noticed a difference in the reaction of my Swiss friends to this topic. Police officers believe I have been racially profiled.

When I was returning to Basel after a day trip to France, a policeman stopped me from the crowd at the station. He asked me where I came from and why I was in Switzerland. I told him I was from France and was visiting my partner standing right behind me. The policeman then asked my partner if he knew me, and he answered yes to it, and I was allowed to move forward.

As far as I can see, he was the only color person in the crowd.

When I told one of my Swiss friends about the situation, their reaction was, “Well, maybe he was just working.”

I was disappointed that this was a reaction I received from one or more of my Swiss friends.

These moments miss my American friends who are confident that they have heard, comforted, and verified my experience without feeling like I had to explain the event over and over again. I did.

This topic wasn’t covered much in my conversation, but I believe that racism is a problem that needs to be addressed in Swiss society.

Report of racist cases collected by Swiss Federal Commission on Racism (EKR) increased by 30% from 2019 to 2020, and the proportion of the Swiss population reportedly subject to racial discrimination increased from 10% in 2014 to 17% in 2018. Federal Statistics Bureau..

Switzerland has a wide variety of dishes, but the food was much more expensive than I expected.

Swiss street with colorful houses on the left

The three-month move from New York City to Basel was an adjustment.Celeste Polanco

New York Crucible of culture and taste.. Eating out in the city can be expensive, but I found affordable appetizing dumplings in Chinatown, Dominican food in Heights, and soul food in Brooklyn.

I knew before I went abroad that I was spoiled by New York food, but I was disappointed when I realized that the taste of traditional Swiss food was cheaper and more expensive than I expected.

After praising Swiss cuisine, a local introduced my partner and me to national cuisine. Rösti..

Not only was my Rösti bland, but it also cost me arms and legs. I regret not choosing a more familiar option like fondue.

Thankfully, Switzerland had many other food options.

I enjoyed Thai food at BooItalian pizza VeetMexican food cartelAnd incredible ramen Mirai..But my meals in all these places were pretty expensive — pizza slices spent me around $ 15..

In Switzerland, food prices seemed to be high overall.

In 2021 Eurostat-OECD Survey Switzerland, which measured price levels for consumer goods and services in 37 European countries, had the highest price levels for food and non-alcoholic beverages, in addition to the most expensive restaurants and hotels.

When I was traveling in Switzerland, I heard various languages ​​and remembered New York.

Swiss gondola and background landscape

Swiss gondola and background landscape

During my three months in Switzerland, I explored many landscapes in Switzerland.Celeste Polanco

My partner and I stayed in Basel City of 200,000 people It is located on the border between Germany and France in Switzerland.

I heard a lot of German, French and English during my stay as the completely different cultures and languages ​​are just walking from the bus, train or city.

And in southern Switzerland, a beautiful region called Ticino borders. Italy.. The region is strongly influenced by Italy due to its proximity to places such as Milan, Como and Varese.

Switzerland has a variety of languages ​​and cultures, and I felt familiar with New York City, where each region has its own unique identity.

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