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Basics How to meet Swiss people and make friends

Friends
(Keystone)

Switzerland is not lacking in options for socialising and turning your leisure time into quality time. 

But since socialising per definition requires more than one person, there is a snag if you want to meet the locals in Switzerland. In the 2018 InterNations expat survey, 62% found it hard to make Swiss friends (compared to 36% globally). It's one of the reasons for Switzerland's drop in this expat ranking to 44th place. The Swiss tend to stick to their circle of friends from school days and they are very respectful of others' privacy. It may be small consolation, but even a Swiss moving to another town may wait a long time for an invitation for an after-work drink, let alone to someone's home for dinner. 

Five ways to improve your social life in Switzerland:

1. Take the first step

Don't be put off by a stoic demeanour, ask a colleague to join you for lunch, a beer or coffee. Chances are they will say yes, because Swiss are generally friendlier than they may first appear. 

2.  Join a club

 More than 42% of Swiss adults are active members in a club. From sports, music to games: with more than 80,000 clubs, there is no shortage of options to get to know people with whom you share a love of chess, football or singing. Or cricket. For most of these activities, you won't need to be able to speak German or French. You can navigate the website listing all registered clubs in Switzerland, by canton and town. Universities also offer a range of choices of clubs, such as, for example, the Academic Sports Association of Zurich (ASVZ) at the ETH. 

3. Take a hike

With the abundance of mountains and beautiful scenery, it is no surprise that hiking is the most popular pastime in Switzerland. From mountaineering to gentle walks, the options are many. You can find hiking groups on the internet or on Facebook. Or find a hike you would like to do and organise your own group. Wanderungen.ch or Schweizmobil have English-language sites that help you plan a hiking route. Just remember to say "hello" as you pass others on a trail. The Swiss are polite hikers.

4. Check out expat sites

As the InterNations survey has demonstrated, most expats, especially those who come to Switzerland alone, struggle to find friends and people to socialise with. The internet offers many options for connecting with other expats seeking company and things to do: sign up on glocals.com, join the English Forum or sign up with a Yahoo group  in your area to find out what activities are planned. 

5. Connect with other compatriots

If you want to connect with your fellow countrymen and -women, find them through various online groups. For example, Indians can look for the Yahoo group "Indians in Switzerland" or in the corresponding group on InterNations. The Indo-Swiss Sports Club organises sports events and BBQs. If you are an Indian mother living in Switzerland, connect with "Indian Moms in Switzerland" via the Yahoo Group. 

Planning to study in Switzerland? Visit our dedicated page Education Swiss Madeexternal link for info, tips and personal accounts from students.

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