Moving from Europe to USA is not an easy task – especially if you’ve always been protected by the *mighty* Alps around you. The U.S. is a very fast-paced country and it can be very frightening the first few weeks coming from a serene and quiet background. Here’s a list of things you’ve certainly encountered if you’re an international student from Switzerland.
1. You will undoubtedly meet that one person who thinks you’re from Sweden.
“Oh so how was life in Sweden?” Well if I knew, I’d tell you.
2. Berkeley Time goes against everything you stand for.
Coming from the land of watches and punctuality, the whole “classes start 10 minutes later than scheduled” thing at Berkeley confuses the hell out of you.
3. Everyone asks you if you speak “Swiss”.
I don’t speak Swiss just like how Indians don’t speak Indian and Americans don’t speak American.
4. You realize not everyone had to learn 4 to 5 languages in high school.
You’re always impressing your peers by spitting the newest french – italian – german slang
5. The CalTrain looks like a rattling container of death compared to the SBB.
The first time you traveled by CalTrain you were impressed by the second floor and how it’s not a real second floor. You also had a few heart attacks when the train accelerated, but you made it.
6. You looked into living at Berkeley International House, saw the prices and then closed the tab immediately.
60k a year is already a fancy amount so unless you’re just here for a semester or your dad owns Microsoft, close that tab immediately and have fun making new local Bay Area friends in the UCB residential halls. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great place to live, but you might not feel like making new local American friends if you’re surrounded by people who can speak the same language as you/come from your home land as well.
7. You nervously went to the US Embassy in Bern alone for the first time to get your F1 student visa.
Yes it is very hidden and I got lost on my way, and you probably did as well. But at least the wait time is shorter than in bigger countries yay.
8. You mistakenly chanted “Hopp Schwiiz!” at a Berkeley football game.
Don’t wear the colors of the Swiss flag or else you WILL be boo’d at. You know why! *Glares across the Bay*
9. You have about 3-4 suitcases in your dorm room.
You know you can’t just ask you mom to bring something you forgot at home like 75% of your friends can, so you brought EVERYTHING with you.
10. You were sure Boba was a person because you thought people were saying “Let’s go to Boba’s place” instead of “Let’s go to a Boba place”.
The first friends you made physically dragged you out of your dorm after you said you’ve never tried boba. Now you run on it like you used to run on that cheap Emmi Caffe Latte from Coop.
11. You’ve googled how to convert the 1-6 grading scale to the letter grade system.
When applying you just hoped that Berkeley had a decent conversion chart and didn’t think that a 4 = fail. You also screamed internally when you realized you had to have above a 4 in ALL your subjects in order to pass the conditions.
12. The unit residential halls freak you out because you’re just not used to buildings taller than 4 floors.
Unless you’re from BiG cItY LIfE in Zurich, your usual view had to do with mountains, grass and cows.
13. You flew to Germany, France or Italy to sit for the SAT and AP Exams, (unless you went to an international school or IB-school, in which case, good for you friend.)
Coming from a different school system is a pain when applying to the US, but a blessing if you learn to use it to your advantage. You probably got jealous when you heard the Americans don’t have to take Geography, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, History, Economics, Math, English, German, French, Italian and PE every year for 4 years. If you line your Schwerpunktfach, Akzentfach and Ergänzungsfach up perfectly with the AP exams you’re self-studying for, you can complete two school systems at the same time!
14. The foreign passport holder immigration line at SFO makes you want to scream.
You watch all the american passport holders basically fly through immigration while you wait for 2 hours in the line with the crying baby behind you. Tip: sometimes international flights open both the front and rear door of an aircraft so try to sit at the ends of the plane, so you can be first in line for immigration.
15. You’re shocked that people actually use Uber frequently.
Uber is about 15 times the price of using the perfectly safe/clean/very reliable/punctual/fast public SBB train, bus and boat transport. In Switzerland, it would take much longer to go somewhere by car, due to the mountains, so you’re not used to cars at all, let alone taxi services. What are taxis even?
16. You somehow managed to elegantly fit 13 years of school into the UC application.
This one was tricky, but you managed and we are all very proud of you.
17. You bought a graduation cap on Amazon, decorated it yourself and then finally posted it on FB, because you wanted to fit in on the Class page.
You didn’t have a typical american graduation but you helplessly acted like you did.
18. People freak out when you tell them the drinking age in your homeland is 16 (beer) or 18 (everything else).
You’re used to going to clubs and bars and your first Berkeley college party sucks because you feel unsafe. You’ve never had to worry about cops coming and you’re really used to being allowed to drink outside next to the lake after class on a hot summer day.
19. The 9 hour time difference makes it difficult to stay in touch with friends back home, but you make it work.
You send your friends back home long voice memos and somehow make it work. Tip: The best Skyping time is when its evening in Switzerland and morning in California. That’s really the only fair solution
20. You wear your Cal gear around in Zurich hoping someone will shout “Go Bears!”
No one does, but hey, a girl can dream.
In the end you should be pretty proud of yourself! You’ve made it to one of the best universities in the world even coming from a very different and rare school system. Rock that fondue cheese! Hopp Schwiiz!