An example of direct democracy

I live in a country which features one of the most direct democracies in the world. I don’t know about you, but for me democracy is important, being it closely related to freedom, and the less it is delegated, the better.

"Switzerland chooses"

“Switzerland chooses”

As soon as I moved to Switzerland I was surprised to see long aluminum poles planted on grassy grounds arranged so that their bases formed a rectangle.
“It’s for a new building,” I was told, “to give neighbors time to decide whether they like it to be built there or not.”
That’s right, the poles represented cornerstones and height of a soon-to-be-built building, according to design plan. The neighbors had veto power on it.

However, in Switzerland ordinary people are much more involved in decisions than just vetoing buildings.

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Criminal justice system in Japans: effective but chilling to Westerners

How different is the criminal justice system in Japan if compared to the ones in the Western World? Japanese culture and history have produced a completely different justice system, with exceptional results and means difficult to accept or understand for Westerners.

I’ve recently stumbled upon an article about “crime and punishment” in Japan. Its title can be translated in “Japan, lights and shadows of Justice. The most frequent crime is bike theft.”

I found the article extremely interesting because it highlights how different Japanese law enforcement system is from the ones in the western world.

The article, authored by a European journalist who has been living in Japan for a couple decades, begins by listing facts and figures about crime in Japan.

Japan law, crime, jail, courts

  • Japan is the country with the lowest crime level among the countries belonging to G20
  • Japan has 54 inmates every 100,000 citizens (US: 700)
  • Japanese citizens who are victim of at least one crime over one year are 16% (US: 39%)
  • Risk of being robbed in Tokyo is 80 times lower than in New York City
  • Risk of being assaulted in Tokyo is 200 times lower than in NYC
  • Risk of being raped in Tokyo is 700 times lower than in NYC
  • Risk of being killed in Tokyo is 2,000 times lower than in NYC

However, such stellar results don’t come without a price.

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Driving in Switzerland: don’t deal with Swiss Police, they will deal with you

Adapting to drive in another country is not always easy.

One has to adapt to:

  • Different rules
  • Different signaling system
  • Different driving styles of the other drivers
  • Different police

Swiss Police

Different police

Imagine you are driving in northern Switzerland, where people pretend to speak German.

It’s after midnight, and I’m driving well below the speed limit, since I know there are many radars around.

Suddenly a car overtakes me, and – surprise – it is a police car.

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Culture shock experiences from expats

What is Culture Shock? How does it develop over time? Here you can find an introduction to culture shock and accounts from expats about their experience with it.

Cultural shock

If you have ever felt in the wrong place after moving to a new city, or went through a stage of continuously criticizing people around you after expatriating, or felt irritable after relocating, you’ve probably suffered from culture shock.

Symptoms

You may not even have known you were suffering from culture shock.
Did you experienced some to several of the following symptoms sometime after relocating abroad or to another part of your own country?

  • Homesickness
  • Night unrest
  • Disliking locals
  • Tendency to criticize local customs
  • Judging local customs as (partly) immoral
  • Considering native culture as ideal
  • Appearance of new physical ailments
  • Being highly irritable by small issues
  • Feeling alone
  • Feeling inadequate
  • Depression
  • Voluntary isolation from others

These are typical symptoms of culture shock

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Best countries to move to according to your needs: the Better Life Index

A grafic country rating on 11 different topics

A grafic country rating on 11 different topics

Even when people have the opportunity and the willingness to move their whole life abroad for whatever reason, it can be difficult to choose what country is the best.
Some have a dream country, but it’s not like that for everybody. Many just would know they want to move abroad, but aren’t sure where to.

I’ve personally been through that: years ago I knew for sure I wanted to leave Italy (or I should say flee), but I had no idea which country best suited my needs and my nature.
I knew for sure that I wanted to move to a less-corrupted country. I liked the abundance of opportunities that the US can offer. I loved Australia’s quality of life. I was attracted by the culture of some European countries like the UK, Switzerland and Germany.

If you are going through this yourself, please check out the Better Life Index web page.

The better life index

The OECD’s Better Life Index is an indicator that takes in account eleven different aspects in quality of life and rates countries basing on all of them or part of them. They call them “topics”.

You can rate the different topics independently from a minimum to a maximum and check what countries score best according to what aspects are most important in life to you.

The different life topics are:

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