5 ways to break the ice and make friends in Switzerland

Moving from one country to another is a big decision as there is a lot at stake.

Take socializing: when people move to Switzerland, they often do not know what to expect. Swiss culture is quite closed and it takes a bit of time until the Swiss warm up to newcomers. In Swiss Watching, Diccon Bewes compares the Swiss to coconuts. It is hard to get into their inner circles. But once you do, you are safe with them. I don't know about you, but I could not agree more with this analogy...

But what are some of the ways to break the coconut shell and make friends in Switzerland? From my own experience, here are some particularly effective ways in meeting Swiss and non-Swiss alike:

 

Join a hobby club in Switzerland

There are many different hobby clubs out there, and most have Facebook pages. Our Vanessa joined a comedy club in Zürich and has not regretted it.

I have tried and tested the basketball, netball and Gaelic Football clubs. The Gaelic Football Club has a great mix of Swiss and non-Swiss, and all levels are welcome. They also organize social events, so it is definitely a great way to meeting people in Switzerland.

Swiss Hobby Clubs - Poodle Club (Copyright by Sprecher & Cortelli)(Photograph copyright Ursula Sprecher/Andi Cortellini)
 

Go for after-work drinks

When done too frequently, going for after work drinks can get annoying – or unhealthy! However, when done in just the right balance, there is great value to hanging out with coworkers in a setting outside of work.

It may not be necessary to join every single gathering, but it is worthwhile to go out once in a while in order to chat and learn more about the hobbies, families and engagements of your coworkers. Who knows, maybe one of them in a member in a sports club?

Frau Gerolds Garten in Zurich, Switzerland
 

Enroll in a class

Linking to people with similar likes is always a good idea. By taking a class, you get to hang out with people from different backgrounds that have been brought together by a joint interest. Be it art, pottery or DIY, I am sure you can think of a skill you have always wanted to learn.

How about hobbies and crafts meet-ups to get you started? Or maybe a flower arrangement workshop?

Flower Arrangement Workshop by Bloem.io

In addition, you have a number of Hiltl vegetarian cooking classes taught in English which I can definitely recommend.

While German language classes may not be the most effective way of meeting Swiss locals, they sure open you up to other newbies who find themselves in a similar situation. It's the perfect basis for lasting friendships.

 

Join a socializing group

It goes without saying that some groups are there solely for the purpose of bringing people together. Take the countless groups on Meetup.com, which are useful for when you do not know anyone yet or want to increase your base.

A particularly special Facebook Group is Switzerland Girl Gone International, which is for "women who pack a bag and head out into the world to see what will happen next." They have many social events throughout the year which are attended by both Swiss and local women.

 

And finally, consider volunteering in Switzerland

There are many great causes bringing people together, be it human rights, climate change or gender equality. Why not take the opportunity to join a cause that matters to you and meet people also passionate about that cause while at it?

There are many purposes to donate your time. Pick one (or five) and make a difference while forming new friendships along the way. Cities such as Zürich, Luzern, Geneva and Nyon have conveniently compiled lists of volunteering opportunities for English speakers.

Homeless Puppy from a Shelter
 

In short, it all comes down to meeting people with similar interests.

Be they locals, internationals or expats, the most important is that you find your tribe and enjoy the benefits of socializing in Switzerland! Good luck to you! And let me know if you want to meet up...

 

Follow me

Fungai

Fungai is a blogger based in Zürich Switzerland and originally from Zimbabwe. She loves to write and to celebrate the differences that make people who they are. Fungai is also passionate about Gaelic Football, Swiss Cheese, English Breakfasts and African sunsets.
Follow me