While settling in at your new work place, it is important to also build up a social life to soon feel at home. There are plenty of things you can do outside work to meet new people and accelerate the process of integration.
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University of Zurich
Initially, you may want to participate in the UZH Welcome Day to get an overview of your new workplace and also get to know other new employees. This orientation event for all new employees is organized by HR and takes place twice a year either in German or English, either on Irchel Campus or in the center.
PhD candidates and postdocs
There are several events taking place regularly at UZH, which are interesting for newcomers. VAUZ co-organizes a monthly get-to-know pub for PhDs and postdocs of UZH and ETH. It is a great opportunity for informal socializing. The Graduate Campus holds regular events such as Grüezi@UZH or the Postdoc Meet Up! These are also great networking and socializing opportunities. For more information visit their respective homepage.
Student Organizations and Associations
UZH has a wide range of student associations: associations by subject, political associations and others, ranging from the AACZ (Academic Alpine Club of Zurich) to the philosophical circle "Utopia". Many of these associations also welcome PhD candidates and postdocs. A list of official student associations can be found on the UZH website.
Choir, Orchestra, Theater...
UZH associations for the artistically inclined include a choir, an orchestra, music bands, theater groups and other possibilities.
Canton and City of Zurich
City and Canton of Zurich
The Canton and the city of Zurich both offer information, events and courses to support the integration of newcomers. To learn more about their offers visit their websites:
Districts and municipalities
Your district or neighborhood area may also organize events. In the city of Zurich, you can find your local district’s community (“Quartierverein”) on the following website.
Most districts have a list of societies and other information about the area published on their website. For an overview of the district websites, visit the website of the Social Services Department of the city of Zurich.
If you live elsewhere in the Canton of Zurich, first choose your municipality from the website indicated below and then browse the municipality’s website in order to find information on events for newcomers or local associations.
Integration with Children and Family
Although it may take a bigger effort to relocate to Switzerland if you have children, you will benefit from your children’s quick adaptability. You can learn German together, as children pick up a new language much easier. Their participation in play groups, kindergarten and school offers a way for your whole family to get in touch with locals.
German Language Classes
To speak or at least understand the local language contributes to a large extent to a quick and smooth integration. But language classes also are great opportunities to meet and get to know new people. As they are probably in the same situation as you, it is easier to bond and you can exchange experiences and challenges you are facing in finding your way in your new surrounding.
There are many offers for German language classes in and around Zurich. The Language Center of UZH/ETH has classes for all levels and also organizes tandems. We're happy to support you in your search for the best language learning opportunity.
In Switzerland it is more common that newcomers introduce themselves. To get to know your Swiss neighbors, you may have to take the lead and introduce yourself first or even invite them over for drinks. It may take a while to really get to know your neighbors – if you give it some time, you will eventually be invited in return.
Sports and Other Interests
A good way to get to know like-minded people is joining a sports club. A great option for this are the ASVZ intensive courses, skiing camps or hikes, where you have more time to get familiar with new acquaintances and the nature and surroundings of your new home. Another possibility is to find people who share your interests, whether it be food, knitting or art, for instance in a meet-up group. You can either look for a matching group, or start your own.
Volunteering is an excellent way for newcomers to integrate, especially in Switzerland where it is very common and therefore even more appreciated. You can contribute with your skills and knowledge to give back something to your receiving society. You can also sign up for the volunteering newsletter.
Organizations and Clubs for Immigrants and Expats
If you would like to also keep in touch with peers from your home country, there are plenty of expats platforms with branches in Zurich. These may be helpful to meet or exchange information with people in the same situation as yours. You will find the link to some popular organizations below.
A listing of expats groups in Zurich and a magazine and city guide for expats can be found on these websites.
Some of the following books with region-specific information might be helpful in order to deepen your sense of locality and to get accommodated to your new country of residence.
David Hampshire (2007): Living and Working in Switzerland. A Survival Handbook.
Dianne Dicks, Katalin Fekete (2007): Ticking Along with Swiss Kids.
Diccon Bewes (2012): Swiss Watching: Inside the Land of Milk and Money. 2nd ed.
Gianni Haver, Mix & Remix (2014): Swissness in a Nutshell.
Kendall Maycock (2006): Switzerland – Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture.
Margaret Oertig-Davidson (2011): Beyond Chocolate – Understanding Swiss Culture.
Margaret Oertig (2012): Going Local. Your Guide to Swiss Schooling.
Franziska Schläpfer (2008): Reise in die Schweiz. Kulturkompass fürs Handgepäck.
Jürg Altwegg et al. (2003): Kuhschweizer und Sauschwaben. Schweizer, Deutsche und ihre Hassliebe.
Susann Sitzler (2004): Grüezi und Willkommen. Die Schweiz für Deutsche.
Sergio J. Lievano, Nicole Egger (2012): Hoi! Et après… - manuel de survie en Suisse allemande.