Swiss AttitudesToward Other Cultures
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For many Swiss, there are two kinds of foreigners: those who bring and those who take. Free-spending Arabs and their successors, the new Russians, business people and the rich tourists who flock to Switzerland all belong to the first category.

Refugees (Switzerland has the highest rate per capita of political refugees in Europe) are the main category of those foreigners perceived to be net “takers”, as well as, unfairly, some seasonal workers who come from Mediterranean countries to do work that the Swiss do not want themselves, such as cleaning, waiting on tables, and building roads.

Some cultures and countries stand out, especially the USA, which commands a great fascination among younger Swiss. The USA is all that Switzerland is not: big, homogeneous, not bothered by ancient hierarchies, a land of competition. Americans are the second biggest visitors to Switzerland after the Germans and they are appreciated, even though every Swiss can tell a few horror stories about culturally illiterate American tourists. Superficiality is a common cultural stereotype associated with Americans among the Swiss. This perception is enhanced by the common use of first names by Americans.

In French-speaking Switzerland, Parisians have the reputation of behaving like rude colonists, thinking they are coming to an underdeveloped country where everybody has a cow and speaks like the actors on French TV commercials for Swiss cheese.

The EU attracts mixed reactions. Basically, the majority of French-speaking Swiss are in favor of joining the EU, whereas the German-speaking part rejects it. “What is in there for us?” they ask pragmatically. Switzerland would loose its Swiss franc, loose control over the borders, perhaps even loose its neutrality and, most important of all, loose money.

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