For members


20 telltale signs you have gone native in Switzerland

From kissing strangers three times on the cheek to staying up past midnight to organise the recycling, here are 20 ways you know you have been in Switzerland too long.

20 telltale signs you have gone native in Switzerland
Photo: Depositphotos

1) You are now officially either a Migros person or a Coop person…but you carry a loyalty card for both supermarket chains in your wallet – just in case.

2) You automatically take your shoes off when you go into someone’s house…and have bought special slippers for guests to wear when they visit.

3) You think it's normal to have a dozen different insurance policies..and that your health insurance doesn't cover ambulance trips.

Read also: 43 habits you pick up living in Switzerland

4) You are awake past midnight tying up bales of newspapers with string to put them out for recycling the next morning…and you think it is reasonable to drive five kilometres to recycle some tin cans.

5) You kiss your friends three times on the cheek when you go back home…and can't understand why they look so confused.

Three times lucky? Photo: Depositphotos

6) You actually like the fact most shops are closed on Sundays…it means you can have some quality time with family and friends.

7) You complain when the train is more than three minutes late…go on, admit it.

8) You write passive aggressive notes about your neighbours and post them in public places…because talking to people is too confrontational.

Read also: Here's what annoys our readers about their neighbours in Switzerland

9) You do your weekly shopping in another country…and think crossing two or three national borders in a day is normal.

10) You no longer think twice about paying five francs for a cup of coffee…and you drink it at one of those weird standing-up tables. You know the ones we mean.

Why sit when you can stand? Photo: Depositphotos

11) You know when your apartment washing day is…and avoid your neighbours like the plague when it comes around.

12) You call 2,000-metre mountains 'hills'…and get completely disoriented in flat places.

13) You shake hands when you meet…a five-year-old.

14) You have an opinion on how to eat fondue…and there is no way you would eat it in summer.

15) You no longer think having a Swiss bank account is cool…but are happy when your four-year-old son gets a free money pouch upon opening his first one.

16) You have stopped singing The Sound of Music every time you step out of a cable car…but still hum the words under your breath.

17) You have a special set of clothes just for hiking…and for skiing, and bike riding.

18) You are forever telling people cuckoo clocks are actually from Bavaria…as if anyone in the rest of the world cared.

19) You actually like the soft drink Rivella…and you are nostalgic about the now defunct Migros version Mivella.

20) You complain about Switzerland all the time…but you actually love it and secretly can’t imagine living anywhere else.

For members


How to talk email, websites, social media and phone numbers in Swiss French

It's a very common experience to have to give out your phone number or email address in Switzerland, or take down the address of a website, so here's how to do this if you're in the French-speaking part of the country.

How to talk email, websites, social media and phone numbers in Swiss French

The correct names for punctuation marks used to be fairly low down on any French-learner’s list, but these days they are vital whenever you need to explain an email address, website or social media account.

Likewise if you want to talk about websites, or social media posts, there are some things that you need to know. 


Obviously punctuation points have their own names, and making sure you get the periods, dashes and underscores correct is vital to giving out account details. 

Full stop/period . point. Pronounced pwan, this is most commonly heard for Swiss websites or email addresses which end in. ch (pronounced pwan ce ash).

If you have a site that ends in .com you say ‘com’ as a word just as you would in English – pwan com.

At symbol @ Arobase – so for example the email address [email protected] would be jean pwan dupont arobas bluewin pwan ce ash.

Ampersand/and symbol & esperluette

Dash – tiret

Underscore _ tiret bas 

Forward slash / barre oblique

Upper case/capital lettersMajuscule (or lettre majuscule)

Lower caseminiscule

The following punctuation points are less common in email or web addresses, but worth knowing anyway:

Comma , virgule. In French a decimal point is indicated with a comma so two and a half would be 2,5 (deux virgule cinq)

Exclamation mark ! point d’exclamation – when you are writing in French you always leave a space between the final letter of the word and the exclamation mark – comme ça !

Question mark ? point d’interrogation – likewise, leave a space between the final character and a question mark 

Brackets/parentheses ( ) parenthèse

Quotation marks « » guillemets 


If you need to give your phone number out, the key thing to know is that Swiss-French people pair the numbers in a phone number when speaking.

So say your number is 079 345 6780, in French you would say zero septante-neuf, trois-cents quarante-cinq, soixante-sept, huitante (zero seventy-nine, three hundred forty-five, sixty-seven, eighty ).

Mobile numbers in Switzerland  begin with 079 or 078 (zero septante-neuf or zero septante-huit).

Social media

If you want to give out your Twitter or Instagram handle, the chances are you might need to know some punctuation terms as described above.

Otherwise the good news is that a lot of English-language social media terms are used in Switzerland too.

Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have the same names in Switzerland and have entered the language in other ways too, for example you might describe your dinner as très instagrammable – ie it’s photogenic and would look good on Instagram.

On Twitter you can suivre (follow), aimer (like) or retweet (take a wild guess). You’ll often hear the English words for these terms too, though pronounced with a French accent.

There is a French translation for hashtag – it’s dièse mot, but in reality hashtag is also very widely used.

Tech is one of those areas where new concepts come along so quickly that the English terms often get embedded into everyday use before the French-speakers can think up an alternative.

READ MORE: French-speaking Switzerland: Seven life hacks that will make you feel like a local