Useful tips for settling in
1. Be open
Learn as much as you can about your new environment, its people and their culture. Be constructive and positive. Be curious and ask questions. Be adaptable, open minded, and adventurous. Be prepared to listen and learn. The article about Swiss culture gives a good introduction and will help you settle in.
2. Observe yourself and be aware of your own cultural conditioning
According to our cultural background, we each respond to things differently. Remember that there are different but no right or wrong ways of seeing and doing things. Try to avoid making comparisons.
3. Be willing to accept frustration and failure
Keep things in perspective. Cultivate a sense of humour.
4. Make an effort to meet people
Clubs, societies, expat networks, and churches are all potential sources of friends and support. Look for the support you need and build a network as early as possible. Read Hello Switzerland's regional articles about Entertainment, news & media and Enjoying Switzerland to find specific suggestions for your area. Expat groups are a good place to start but it is worthwhile making the effort to integrate locally as well.
5. Start learning the language
Don't worry about being perfect. People will appreciate you making an effort. Take a look at Hello Switzerland's regional language articles to find school options in your region. If you are planning to be in Switzerland for a longer period, consider sending your children to local schools.
Explore your neighbourhood and explore Switzerland. Consider your time here to be an adventure. Be prepared to give as well as take. Everyone can make a contribution. Start with these regional activity suggestions.
7. Admit when you need help, advice or information
Don't let the situation deteriorate before facing it.
8. Accept that you will be dependent on other people because you are new
Accept their help knowing that you will be able to reciprocate by helping other newcomers.
9. Organise things to look forward to
Arrange a few highlights during the year, such as holidays, outings, and dining out. Take advantage of the excellent transport connections between Swiss cities and other European destinations. Start your search on Hello Switzerland; learn about activities for families, spas and wellness, and Swiss nature parks, for starters. You can also check for seasonal suggestions from local tourism information offices.
Expat networking groups, clubs and societies regularly organise events. Bookmark the Hello Switzerland Events page and sign up for the newsletter so you never miss out on what's going on. Take advantage of your environment and enjoy it.
10. Step outside of your comfort zone
Push yourself to try new things. Take a chance and introduce yourself to people you find interesting. Go to that event of interest, even if you don't know anyone there. The more you participate the more Switzerland will open up to you. It is worth it pushing through those moments of discomfort.
Common newcomer pitfalls to avoid
- Comparing your present situation with what you have left behind.
- Criticising, which is very easy to do but will not make you friends or leave you feeling positive or constructive. Try not to be too hasty in forming opinions or making judgments: things are rarely as black and white or as simple as they seem.
- Expecting to live as you used to. You will need to be open to adapting on many different levels to your new surroundings. This is a gradual process and you will never become exactly like the ‘natives', but it will assist in making you more comfortable and conscious of your environment.
- Expecting to be settled quickly. It will take time. A rule of thumb is to give the process at least four seasons.
- Attempting to be independent too quickly. This is one time when you will need advice and support, so take it.
- Waiting until you are settled and organised before seeking contact with people. People you meet may be able to answer your questions, offer support and advice and may even become your friends. Don't assume that everyone has been here a long time: everyone seems like an old timer to a newcomer.