I see that you’re curious as to what you should bring with you, what you can leave behind, what you can buy here, and what is hard to find. Assuming that you are able to get to the shops when they are open, your shopping experiences here will be quite different from those you are accustomed to. While I won't go into every similarity and difference, here are a few for you to chew on. Let’s start with what you will find here in great quantities and with the utmost ease. Cheese, chocolate, and kitchen appliances exist in hundreds of shapes, sizes, and prices. The first two, I’m sure you expected, but kitchen appliances? Yes, my friend, if you were a housewife from the 1950’s, Switzerland would seem like a futuristic utopia of automation and culinary gadgets. Here, we have a special machine that hard-boils eggs. Next to it, feast your eyes on the little grill for potatoes and cheese. You needed a hotdog cooker with a bun warmer? Look no further. The list goes on, and whatever it is that you’re looking to do, there is sure to be a machine to do it, and it is also certain that the machine will have no other useful functions. (If you love your George Foreman grill, however, you should bring that, as it’s too multi-functional to have market appeal here).
Bring medications in large quantities, if you are the kind to take them, as the pharmacies, and only the pharmacies, are allowed to dispense such highly dangerous substances as Tylenol and Advil, and only 10 or 20 pills at a time. Vitamins are available in bottles of 60 pills, but those, too, are dispensed by the pharmacist, who, I’m sure, is checking you out to make sure you’re not one of those vitamin-junkies looking for your next fix.
Say goodbye to Skippy, Jif, and Peter Pan, and say hello to mini-jars of generic peanut butter, which are strangely gritty and oily. Cereal comes in flakes or puffs, plain or chocolate, so bid a fond farewell to the silly rabbit, Lucky, Count Chocula, Cap’n Crunch, Fred and Barney, and all of your other cereal friends. If you are a lover of fresh vegetables, seafood, and herbs, you will change them in for salad greens, canned veggies, frozen fish, and mostly dried herbs. Your red meat will be doled out by the gram instead of the pound, and your milk will come in room-temperature boxes, with all of the original milk fat included. Your eggs will come in fours or tens, but never by the dozen. Goodbye, Wonder Bread, and hello to bakery bread that is delicious for an hour, before it turns into an excellent “large, blunt object” used to commit unsolved murders. Drink your last Dr. Pepper and root beer, and savor the plenitude of Sprite, ginger ale, and Diet Coke, then prepare to spend your meals sipping tiny glasses of iced tea, Coke Light, Fanta, and Schweppes Bitter Lemon.