Cultures are different, even though people are people, everywhere.
Haveyou ever wondered what makes a country a country? What makes India Indian? OrFrance French? People are people, everywhere. We share a common humanity. Butcultures are different.
In Switzerland, starting the year surrounded by the scenic snowy Swiss mountains alongside your family is a truly delightful idea. Travelling on flights, trains and busses can be as smooth as skiing through fresh deep snow. The precision and transparency of the Swiss travel system means that one can focus entirely on every moment of the journey, rather than managing disturbances and connections. One savours the beauty of the landscape, which became noticeably more snowy and pristine the closer one comes to their destination.
Whatcertainly helps in these transitions is the friendly conductors. As they blowan old fashioned whistle at each station, which sometimes echoes against themountains, the conductor stops regularly at seats to check in with the childrento tell a joke or a riddle.
Astriking feature is the cleanness of the entire country. Making evenSingaporean officials envious, Switzerland as a whole is almost as clean asDisneyland. The Swiss call it being “proper”. From the train toilets to theair, from the stations to the roads, from the cities to the countryside,everything is clean. Some find the country’s vacuumcleanness a bit too much. But it certainly provides a nice contrast to manyother countries. And the country is highly branded: the Swiss flag is used as alogo in every nook and cranny. It stands for reliability and cleanness, and apride about that which is deeply rooted in the national identity.
Another striking feature that makes Switzerland Swiss is the business model. Many people say that travelling in Switzerland is expensive. While that depends on your reference point, of course, it is difficult to call that a striking national feature. What is more characteristic, perhaps, is the philosophy behind the way the Swiss charge. The Swiss lease their country and all its features and resources to you. They have found a way to ‘tangibilize’ the intangible, to capture the value inherent in the country’s natural touristic resources, and the highly efficient and effective systems the Swiss have built to access it.
The country is run on a highly coherent philosophy, it seems. Everything you buy in Switzerland and every service rendered shares in this identity. You buy the brand through every little thing. You experience the brand for the duration of train trip, a coffee, a bar of chocolate—and pay a premium for every element.
Switzerland is a country that more than perhaps any other has understood how to project itself and capture the value of its natural endowments and cultural achievements. Perhaps that is what makes Switzerland Swiss.