Swiss Punctuality – Does It Make Life Easier?

Swiss Punctuality – Does It Make Life Easier?

I used to always be the kind of girl who was late for everything. The closer I was to the place, the later I got there, since I often left when I was supposed to be there. I was a hopeless time optimist. But do you know what the funny thing was? It happened to always work out great. How come? Because everything and everyone else seemed to also always be late as well…I never really had to run for the bus, because I would assume that it was running five minutes late. In fact, now as I think about it, I often expected the bus or tram to be a few minutes late, so I consciously left later. All that however, belongs to the past – when we moved to Switzerland, I soon realized that I needed to change this habit of thinking in order to make sure I GOT anywhere.

Everything here in Switzerland is precisely on time – every single time. I don’t know why, but Swiss people definitely have a special connection with time. You never have to wonder what the time is, since there are clocks at almost every corner and watch shops the whole way along the street.

Switzerland and watches just seem to go hand in hand.

If the bus is supposed to leave at 09.31 it doesn’t wait a second longer, and it’s not just the transport system which is like that, the people are too!

If you set a date at a certain time with someone he/she somehow gets it just right, and arrives not a minute late – or early.

At first it’s a little frustrating for someone like me who is basically counting on delays, but since the buses only go once every hour I had to step my game up.

And now I find it incredibly nice.

I mean think of all time you’ve spent waiting for something to come or leave?

All those delays that just turned out to be longer and longer and longer.

Here, you know that when catching a train somewhere, everything is connected, and you never have to wait longer than 10 minutes for the next train. Everything is calculated to the exact detail and creates such a flow in your travels. If a bus is full you usually don’t have to wait for long until they send in an extra bus.

A friend of mine is currently living in Rwanda, and she says that nobody there cares about the time. The bus doesn’t leave at any specific time, it simply leaves when it’s full. This means that you could wait from five minutes to an hour.

If you invite friends over at a certain time, they can either be two hours late or two hours early, and bring some friends along without warning.

If that would ever happen here, the Swiss people would probably have a mental freak-out!

However, she said that in the beginning it was a bit frustrating, but that she’s now used to it and actually likes it – even prefers it.

On the other hand I think exactly the same but opposite, I prefer the Swiss way now.

So what does that mean? Are we just different in our likings, or does it all in the end come down to us getting used to something? Getting used to routines?

How do you like it… do you prefer having everything precisely on time and in order, or do you like a more relaxed system (maybe not as relaxed as in Rwanda though)?

6 Responses to Swiss Punctuality – Does It Make Life Easier?

  1. As We Travel March 17, 2010 at 7:01 am #

    haha yeah, I am the same way – Sofia used to drive me NUTS cos I am always on time (probably the half-swiss in me) and never turn up late to anything… normally just like you I turn up early, but I prefer that than stressing and running late for everything! :)

    / Nathan

  2. ayngelina March 17, 2010 at 3:33 am #

    I'm habitually early and it drives me nuts but the thought of being late makes me so nervous that I always leave my house 30 minutes too early. Maybe it's the Canadian in me.

  3. Ricca March 18, 2010 at 4:31 am #

    I'm the type pf person who would rather be early than late as I hate the feeling of being in a rush. Great to know more about Switzerland, it is only through your blog that I found out about their punctuality.

  4. As We Travel March 18, 2010 at 6:45 am #

    Hey Ricca, yeah I am the same :) glad we could help up and share more info for you about Switzerland – where are you from?

  5. Keith March 18, 2010 at 3:20 pm #

    I've always been hopelessly early. I acquired this particular disease from my mother who's the same way. As fate would have it, though, my wife is the way you used to be, Sofia. Generally always late. This has been a bone of contention as I've had countless mini-strokes waiting and waiting and waiting… I can't help, being on time and really early is just part of my routine and what makes me comfortable. I need to chill on this front.

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