Spot the Difference

13 Oct


Unsurprisingly, there are many differences between life in Switzerland and life in the States. In Switzerland, if people don’t pay their bills online via automatic transfer, they pay them at the post office in cash.  Checks don’t exist, and you can’t pay with a bank card.  It’s not unusual to be standing in line behind someone carrying the equivalent of $10,000 in their pocket.  Friends greet each other by kissing three times on the cheek.  Official documents are printed in four or five languages (French, German, Italian, English, and sometimes Romansch).  TV programs are produced from around the world, and if you have the appropriate technology, you can listen to either the original language or the local-language voiceover.

After I moved back to the States and landed myself in the hospital again when I had a seizure, it was inevitable that I would note a few differences between Swiss and American hospitals.

My thoughts from Room 911:

The food:

Switzerland — general, everyday food (hot chocolate with rolls, butter and jam for breakfast, and a meat, a vegetable, and a starch for lunch and dinner) with a little ostrich thrown in now and then for fun.  Usually very tasty.

The US — a decidedly more American flair.  Migas for breakfast, hamburgers for lunch, and cake for dessert.  So far, all I’ve been able to eat is the fruit and vegetables.

The accommodations:

Switzerland — a mix of private and semi-private rooms and four- and eight-person wards.

The US — private and semi-private rooms, and a private toilet!  Nothing better in life than a private toilet.


Switzerland — obsessed with it.  The floors were mopped several times a day, and the doctors and nurses always washed their hands in front of me.

The US — getting better about it.  My mom said there’s a big change at the hospital since my grandma was there the previous year.  The doctors still don’t wash their hands in front of you, though, which kind of worried me – my longest friend Renée’s fiancé Sam worked in a hospital where a scan was taken of each doctor’s hands while on duty to evaluate them for germs.  Most of the doctors had germier than desired hands due to poor hand-washing.

The stay:

Switzerland — they keep you until they’re sure you’re not going to be coming right back through the door.

The US — the length of stay is dictated by the insurance company.  If you stay longer than they want you to, the doctor has to call in an override.  They tried to send me home even when I told them I was too sick to leave.


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