Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Things I will never understand about Zurich, version 1.0

1) Cars stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk. Always. Even if they were going really fast. Even if the road is busy so many cars will be forced to wait. Even if you would be willing to let the cars pass and cross when the road is clear. I've taken to holding back from the sidewalk and idly staring into space so as to clearly convey the fact that I do not intend to cross the street in front of the car. In Boston, pedestrians always had the right of way in theory, but only had the right of way in practice when they were accumulated into a sufficiently dense group such that, were the car to attempt to plow through the throng, it would be brought to a near-halt due to conservation of energy and momentum.

2) Stores close early. Very little other than restaurants is open past 8pm any day of the week. On Sunday, you can only buy groceries at the main train station and the airport. Can you imagine going to the airport to buy some milk?

3) Bike theft is rare. A New York City-grade bike lock consists of at least six pounds of triple heat-treated boron manganese steel, and the wheels, frame, and seat must each be locked to an immovable object. In Zurich, a small cable lock wrapped around the back wheel to keep it from spinning freely seems to be sufficient unless you have a particularly fancy bike.

4) The language of social discourse is an unintelligible tongue called "Swiss German." The dialect spoken in Zurich is not the same as the dialect spoken anywhere else in this country which smaller Tennessee, has a population less than that of New York City (not state, city), and of which half speaks French rather than Swiss German in the first place.

5) Brewed coffee cannot be purchased in units roughly equal to my head in volume.

6) Fruits and vegetables which are out of season are not imported from Argentina or Chile by default.

7) When in season, the tomatoes are delicious enough to make a grown man cry.

8) The bill at any restaurant other than a fast-food joint is likely also enough to make a grown man cry.

9) The internet is not the default destination for all purchases other than groceries.

10) The cashiers at the supermarket make roughly twice as much as I do; I am living comfortably on a standard graduate-student stipend.

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