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Living in Switzerland

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Switzerland’s “Little Big City”
Zurich is well-known as a safe and attractive city – indeed, for several consecutive years it has been ranked as having the highest quality of life in the world. Despite its relatively small size (380,000 inhabitants), the city has an international metropolitan flair and offers an extensive range of leisure amenities.
While Berne is Switzerland’s political capital, Zurich is considered its business capital: formerly an industrial town, the city’s focus has shifted to commerce and knowledge-intensive enterprise.
With its theatres, concert halls, museums, art galleries, libraries, bookshops, and educational institutions at all levels, Zurich is also a centre of cultural importance.
Its location on Lake Zurich and its proximity to the Alps and other places of scenic interest make Zurich a pleasant place to live. During the summer, its lakeside offers a wide range of leisure activities. Numerous restaurants, cafés and bars satisfy every culinary taste. The surrounding area, featuring small lakes and hilly landscapes, offers ample opportunity for outdoor activities such as hiking, climbing and cycling.
During the winter and the cooler seasons the opera, theatres, cinemas, museums, clubs and bars present attractive alternatives.
Those who enjoy skiing or snowboarding are also within an hour or two of beautiful snow-covered mountains.
Zurich has excellent air, rail and road connections. Eurocity and Intercity trains from all directions stop at the central station.
Within the metropolitan area, there is a combined network of public transportation, linking rapid suburban rail, tramways, buses and boats.
Zurich Tourism official website

Switzerland is a multilingual country. According to the most recent figures, 63.7% of the population speak Swiss German as their main language. The three other national languages are French (Western Switzerland), Italian (Southern Switzerland) and Romansh (South-Eastern Switzerland). German, French and Italian hold equal status as official languages.
The language spoken in Zurich is referred to as Swiss German, or “Schwiizertüütsch” as the locals call it. It sounds and looks very different from Standard German. Swiss German is used for almost all oral communication, whereas Standard German is the language used for written communication, e.g. in the newspapers.
Although Zurich is a cosmopolitan city and many people are fluent in more than one language, it is highly recommended that you learn at least some basic (Standard) German during your stay in Zurich.

Weather What to Wear
Zurich has a temperate climate, i.e., summers tend to be hot and sunny, while winters are cold, damp and wet, with occasional snow. Average high temperatures in summer are 23°–25°C, but can rise to over 30°C. In winter, temperatures often drop to below zero. During this season warm clothing, a waterproof jacket and sensible shoes are essential.

Residence Permit
Anyone who stays in Switzerland for more than three months must obtain a residence permit. This means that you must register and apply for your permit at the appropriate city district office (“Kreisbüro”) within 8 days of arrival. The city is divided into 12 different districts, each with its own “Kreisbüro”.
Your landlord or your flatmates will know which one is responsible for the area in which you live. If you choose to live outside the city of Zurich, you must register at the appropriate municipal administration office (“Gemeindeverwaltung”).A list of all the Kreisbüros and their opening hours can be found at:

When you register you must produce the following documents:
* Valid passport or identity card
* proof of registration at ETH Zurich
* confirmation letter from the Student Exchange Office (exchange students only)
* 1 passport photograph
* rental contract for your accommodation (if available)
* CHF 85 (EU citizens); CHF 120 (non-EU citizens);
*  Letter from your parents/family confirming that they will support you financially (not required from exchange students or if you entered Switzerland with a visa)
A few weeks later you will receive an official letter requesting you to pick up your residence permit. When it expires you may apply for a renewal.
Please note that from 2011 all foreigners in Switzerland will receive new residence permit cards containing biometric data.
The application procedure will then change slightly.

Overnight Stay / Short-Term Accommodation
You can book a room for your first night(s) via Zurich’s Tourist Information Service. They provide a list of hotels, hostels and bed and breakfasts, plus an online booking service, at:

Some of the cheapest options are:
Youth Hostel Mutschellenstrasse 114, 8038 Zurich Telephone: +41 44 482 35 44
City Backpacker / Hotel Biber  Niederdorfstrasse 5, 8001 Zürich  Telephone: +41 44 251 90 15
easyHotel Zwinglistrasse 14, 8004 Zürich Telephone: +41 0900 327 994
Hotel Etap Technoparkstrasse 2, 8005 Zürich Telephone: +41 044 276 20 00
Martahaus Zähringerstrasse 36, 8001 Zürich Telephone: +41 44 251 45 50
Hotel Foyer Hottingen Hottingerstrasse 31/Cäcilienstrasse 10, 8032 Zürich Telephone: +41 44 256 19 19
Haus Justinus Freudenbergstrasse 146, 8044 Zürich Telephone: +41 44 362 29 80

Switzerland’s official currency is the Swiss franc (“Franken” in German).
The most common abbreviation is “Fr.”, but you may also see “Sfr.”, or the official bank abbreviation “CHF”. Each franc is divided into 100 cents; in German these are called “Rappen” (Rp.). The units of currency are:
Coins 5, 10, 20, 50 cents and 1, 2, 5 francs
Bank notes 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 1000 francs
Note: Although some retailers accept euros, it is recommended to pay everything in Swiss francs. If you pay in euros you normally get a very bad exchange rate.
Credit cards such as Visa and Mastercard are accepted almost everywhere. As the city has a vast number of ATMs (automated teller machines) you are also unlikely to have difficulty withdrawing money using a debit or credit card. Most Swiss ATM machines are also equipped to accept Cirrus and Maestro cards.

For more information check this handbook-interntational-students.pdf

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