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Indian student blog Adjusting to Swiss rules


I use the tram, bus, and the funicular railway Polybahn on a daily basis.

(Devendra Shintre)

Changing countries naturally involves getting acquainted with the rules of the new society. Although in some aspects Switzerland is similar to India, it differs a lot in others.

I had to quickly learn how Switzerland works as soon as my plane landed there. I was surprised by different modes of transportation available within the city. My first question was “Do I have to buy different ticket for each mode of transport?” The answer is “its complicated”, especially for a newcomer like me. Swiss cities are divided into transportation zones. One needs to buy a ticket for the specific zone. He can then travel within that zone by (most) public transport for the mentioned duration (typically an hour or a day). To further complicate things, for some trips like a cruise or a late-night bus, one must buy an additional surcharge ticket. This is quite different from India, where tickets are usually valid only for a specific journey. I would imagine that it is confusing for most people from the Indian subcontinent as I have been asked for help multiple times by tourists at the Zurich Hauptbahnhof (main station). 

Another thing which surprised me was the efficiency and frequency of the public transport. As a result, it is widely used despite being costly. As public transport is usually not from door-to-door, there are a lot of pedestrians. There are specific yellow pedestrian crossings on roads and cars usually slow down and wait for people to cross. Seeing cars actually stop at the red light, and not only at the sight of the traffic police, was also a pleasant surprise. 


Pedestrians are respected in Switzerland.

(Devendra Shintre)

Another aspect of Swiss life which is quite complicated is the garbage disposal system.  It is not free. One has to segregate the garbage into more than four categories (glass, metal, organic waste, paper, plastic, non–recyclables, and the list goes on) if they wants to save some money. Explanation of the garbage disposal would require a separate blog. Fortunately, some forumsexternal link and explain how to do it.   

glass recycling bins

There are five blue-coloured recycle bins for glass disposal outside the university (each for different coloured glass).

(Devendra Shintre)

My next surprise was the widespread use of letters for official and commercial business. I was expecting everything to be digital. However, I have probably received more letters in last six months than in the last 20 years. As letters are the preferred and default mode of official communication, maintaining a post box with your name is very important. Unlike India, the postman will not check with your neighbours, if they don’t find a letter box with your name on it. I found out the hard way when my Swiss residence permit was returned to the city office because my name was missing on the letter box.

For more blog posts and information on studying in Switzerland visit our dedicated page Education Swiss Madeexternal link.

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