Great idea @MrCheese! I’m interested to see if some life hacks come out of this but also a bit concerned *)
There are two cultural topics which were much more pronounced than expected. These might be sensitive topics for some, others may not have even experienced them because for a small country there’s a lot of variations thanks to kantönligeist. Your individual experiences may be extremely different but these are ours from Central Switzerland.
The first one is related to women’s rights in general and specifically both parents working as mentioned above. We knew the costs of daycare very well but not how many people are actually against the mother working. We have received comments like ”why did you have children if you want to give them to someone else”. Sometimes there’s also pressure towards the woman at the workplace after she has given birth. I always find it ironically funny when someone mentioned equal rights as an integration topic, typically in connection of naturalization or other topics concerning foreigners. The Gleichstellung von Frau und Mann may be in the constitution but some people sure have funny interpretations of it.
The biggest shock of all was the school system. Our experiences are from two different primary schools (plus those of our friends) and it feels so old fashioned and sometimes just plain backwards. The system is authoritarian - meaning the child is there for the school and not vice versa. A lot of the teaching is based on repetitive assignments and mechanical work. Very few teachers have the capacity or the motivation to teach children as individuals. As soon as someone doesn’t fit in their imaginary box it’s the child’s fault and not the system’s. Bullying is tolerated too much and rather ignored than handled professionally. We have found that the teaching staff in general don’t like questions. It feels like they might think their authority is being questioned and fall back to ”this is how we do it in der Schweiz!” We’ve noticed that children or even many parents don’t dare to question anything the school does.
Other than that there weren’t any big surprises and there are other cultural things which are very similar to my passport country. I made my research up front and more or less knew how everything works.
The original post also mentioned making local friends. I have a couple from work and some outside of work but not that many in general. I still sometimes wonder why it’s almost a taboo to spend time with your colleagues outside of work and especially on weekends. Maybe it’s because my previous workplace was very tightly knit and I’m still in touch with many of the people who I learned to know at work and became really good friends with. It’s still a bit sad how many people are so reluctant to even consider it.
In summary, a great country but can be extremely challenging with children.
*) P.S. I appreciate the effort but I’m somewhat concerned about how the topic fits in this forum. Topics like this can get political or very opinionated very quickly. There was some not so nice discussion about the coronavirus and the US elections. I hope this one stays more civil. I would urge everyone to remember ”even if it didn’t happen to you, doesn’t mean the other person’s experience is not real.”