Alpine mountains, cheeses, chocolates, and watches… as far as one can tell, these are what Switzerland is best known for; but for sure, there is a myriad of other fascinating things that make the Swiss scene and lifestyle stand out worldwide. (Swiss Lifestyle)
This year, thanks to the invitation of the Embassy of Switzerland in the Philippines and Presence Switzerland, I had the wonderful chance to visit this amazing destination (an affair that is actually in part of the celebrations for the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Switzerland). But more than being a tourist, I also got the chance to have a deeper look into the important aspects of the Swiss’ society — ‘aspects’ that certainly help make up the whole image of the country.
Besides, it’s relatively easy to pop into Switzerland and do the usual must-dos; however, it’s not everyday that I can have the opportunity to learn the Swiss’ way of life whilst I put things into perspective. In fact, due to the time that I spent there (albeit short), I felt like I was a part of the community — better yet, I wanted to be a part of their amazing community! — given all of the interesting things that I’ve seen, experienced and learned.
…So, are you curious? Well then, here we go!
5 Swiss Interesting Facts
» A Prevalent Active Lifestyle
Did you know? Switzerland has one of the happiest AND healthiest populations in the world! It’s said that this is not only due to the excellent health care that the Swiss government has implemented but also due to the Swiss’ high standard of living and innate desire to lead a healthy and active lifestyle.
For one thing, despite their intense love for cheese and chocolate, the Swiss will still and always value healthy eating. This is best seen in the products that they have in their supermarkets, as well as in the food in their cafes and restaurants.
Haus Hiltl in Switzerland actually holds the Guinness World Record for being the oldest operating vegetarian restaurant in the World. I had the pleasure to dine here, and boy — I loved it a lot! I’m not a vegetarian but the kind of food that they served here was superb.
People in Switzerland have also seemingly made it a way of life to enjoy the picturesque natural landscapes and mountains that surround their country year-round; so, it’s not unusual to see young and old Swiss individuals alike lead a very active lifestyle (especially on weekends and holidays). They will most likely head off to the forests and lakes in the summer and autumn, and to the mountains in winter and spring!
» An Impressive Transportation Network
As I lead this travel lifestyle for almost 4 years now, you bet that I have already seen a handful of countries that have an impressive system for public transportation — but as I first set foot at a train station in Switzerland, I have come to see how impressive their transportation network was!
Except for some small countries and city-states, Switzerland apparently has the world’s most dense railway network. So yes, it is extensively connected, but more than that, I can also attest to you how fast and timely their trains can be.
This would be mostly due to the efforts of the national railway company of Switzerland named the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB). For years, they have been the backbone of the public transport system as they continually develop new technologies to better improve their services. Truth be told, they have various green projects that they launch every year and one of their recent projects would be the SBB Green Class that explores the future of mobility through car-sharing services, electronic cars, etc.
To best explore transport history, make sure that you visit the Museum of Transport in Lucerne! It features interactive displays that show the development of Switzerland’s mobility and communication systems. I had the chance to visit this place as well and I surely had a great time here; so it was no wonder to me why this is the most visited museum in the country!
» Highly Innovative & Entrepreneurial
Switzerland does not have a substantial amount of natural resources due to its terrain, BUT its greatest resource would be its population — no matter how small that may be! I say this because, for years, it has become apparent that they have put great importance on their people’s talents, training, and education. Because of this, it has consistently helped craft their economy which is highly competitive today.
According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, Switzerland is one of the top 10 most entrepreneurial countries in the world!
This comes as no surprise to me especially after witnessing Impact Hub — one of the coworking spaces in Switzerland that helps build an entrepreneurial community. In there, I saw start-ups that explored 3D printing, sustainable clothing, food waste reduction, climate-friendly meals, and more! (After all, I’m an entrepreneur myself so this was a fascinating environment for me to see!)
But of course, at the very core of it all, there are various universities that help foster innovation at the early stages like that of the world-leading EPFL (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) which is a research institute –slash– university that specializes in physical sciences and engineering.
This factor goes hand-in-hand with the entrepreneurial vigor of the Swiss people. Apart from the numerous start-ups and universities that invariably try to answer or solve environmental and world problems, there are existing big corporations that have it as one of their core aims.
A perfect example for such would be the world-famous Swiss brand of Freitag that recycles discarded truck tarpaulins, car seat belts, and bike tubes in order to make functional yet stylish bags that are robust and perfect for urban dwellers. Lately, they have even come up with compostable textiles!
Let’s not also forget the SBB who incessantly comes up with projects to better help contribute to clean energy and sustainability.
» Values & Loves Design
A captivating invention that I have encountered would be Birdly® by SOMNIACS and it is basically a full-body experience that incorporates virtual reality (VR) and robotics technology in order to make people try hands-on how it would feel to fly and explore the skies. As I tried this contraption myself, there definitely were times that I forgot how I wasn’t actually flying — it was that amazing!
Of course, ‘design’ doesn’t just encompass the fields of art and technology because it can involve other areas too… like politics!
Now, I know for a fact there is no one ‘best’ political system out there because what’s right for a certain country will not always work for another. Well, when it comes to the Swiss, their democratic system ‘works’ for them and it is a ‘design’ that is always evolving as they strive for political growth.
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Every country is unique with its own sets of positives, and I can honestly say that the Swiss scene and lifestyle has truly captivated me.
As someone who is born and raised in the Philippines, I also have to admit that my home country definitely has a LOT to learn from the tiny but robust country of Switzerland! Thankfully though, with the good relations that we have them, there are a lot of opportunities to take in order to learn from one another — and the same applies for other countries all over the world as well.
All in all, this experience that I had was insightful and it is my hope that you get to witness Switzerland in its depth and entirety too!