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How to Spot a Swiss Person

As an expat one usually spots fellow expats right away. It's not only the language or the looks of people but rather the little peculiarities of life that seem so normal at home that give us away while abroad. Obviously, it's a cliche that all people from the same place (country, city, continent) behave in the same way and I am far from making that claim. However, growing up in a certain surrounding does rub off on people's behavior and some similarities can certainly be observed.

This is also true for Swiss people. According to the Swiss stereotype, we are a clean, punctual and strictly organized people. However, there are many exceptions like my Swiss friend who is always late or my brother whose room was a total mess while growing up. Yet, although they do not fit the description of a typical Swiss person, they still have some traits that give them away as Swiss. The same is probably true for myself - if I like it or not.

10 Signs you are dealing with a Swiss Person

So, what are some of the characteristics of a typical Swiss person? I put together this short list of 10 things that will help you spot a Swiss person (and needs to be understood with a sense of humor obviously):
  1. We love being right on time for anything and everything (maximum one minute early or late) and disapprove of people who are late
  2. We ask if the seat is taken before sitting down in a train or bus even if its obvious it's still free
  3. We make our own beds even when staying at a hotel
  4. We return clothes nicely folded or on the hanger after trying them on in a store
  5. We wait until all passengers have disembarked before boarding a train or bus, usually in two neat lines to the side of the door
  6. We greet total strangers with a friendly "Grüezi" when our paths crosse while hiking or walking (except in cities)
  7. We kiss our friends three times on the cheeks when we meet them, always starting with the left cheek
  8. We eat our food always with fork and knife (using both hands) and never put our hands under the table during a meal
  9. We ask everyone at the table if they would like the last piece of cake or dessert before taking it ourselves
  10. We only start eating a meal after the host started eating
Are there any other things that will help you spot a Swiss person? Is this also the way you as an expat in Switzerland experience the Swiss? Let me know and share in the comments!

train station clock - Matthias Balzer  /



  1. I guess I'm slowly ready for the swiss passport... ;-) Your list reminds me of another one, "You know you've been in Switzerland for too long if..." I don't know if you've heard about it? If not, here's one of the websites where it appears: I have to laugh every time I read it!

    1. That is indeed a great and funny list! Thanks for sharing!

  2. I would consider the possibility that a person talking to me is a Swiss if they ask about what direction will politics take in my homeland just a moment after I told them where I am from.

  3. It's strangely accurate ��
    I always just thought about those traits as my manners, but i guess its only like that in switzerland.
    Thanks for making me laugh by the way ☺️

    1. My ancestor, Great Grandparents are from Switzerland, this explains my need for being early "on time", and several other traits. I'd love to visit there one day.


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