Saturday, August 30, 2014

Making first impressions as an Expat

It is time to go back to school soon. Expat children often need to begin a new school in a foreign place at this time of year. Although this is a very enriching experience, it is not always easy to start all over again time and time again. You also realize how important first impressions are.

Did you know that a Princeton University study found that it takes just one-tenth of a second to make judgments about a person based on their facial appearance. Judgments - on measures of attractiveness, likeability, trustworthiness, competence, and aggressiveness - made within this span of time were not significantly different than those made without time constraints. In fact, confidence for some judgments actually decreased with greater exposure time.

With the amount of time Expats spend having and creating first impressions, this should be something we talk to our kids about. Imagine one-tenth of a second when you are in a crowded airport, one-tenth of a second as you enter your new school, one-tenth of a second as you meet your new neighbors.

The researchers found that attractiveness and trustworthiness are the qualities we judge most quickly.
As a global family how important is the trustworthiness in your family? How can you model this so your child really understands what it looks like or feel like? How can you get a feeling of trustworthiness show in your face or manners?

A study published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that both clothing style and posture played a role in initial perceptions. The tone and tenor of your voice also plays a significant role in determining what kind of first impression you make on others.

Did you know that your tone of voice is what people use to judge trustworthiness, aggressiveness and warmth?

Often expat children are dealing with a second or a third language and perhaps they are shy about their language ability in their non-native tongue. How does your child project his or her voice in the new language? They might not have master the new language yet, but they can master the non-language image of ‘posture’. Have you worked on your child’s knowledge of how important posture is in first impressions?

And remember: Expat parenting is about teaching and modeling. As parents of global nomads, we must think how we can model ‘first impressions’ so our children not only understand the concept but see us in action.


Friday, August 29, 2014

A very Swiss Ice Bucket Challenge

Yesterday I shared my list of facts you need to know about ALS or the Lou Gehrig disease. Today I have come across the latest Swiss Ice bucket Challenge video and thought it was worth sharing.



The Appenzeller Cheese producers, famous for their amusing ads featuring three local gentlemen, have challenged the Swiss tourism office and the Graubünden tourism entity - which is known for their ads full of sense of humour - as well as the TV characters for Switzerland's telephone information service 1818.

This should be interesting. Keep posted!

Donations can be made to: http://www.alsa.org/ or any other charity or your choice!
#icebucketchallenge, #alsicebucketchallenge, #strikeoutals.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

I have been challenged...

I have been challenged. Yes, the ice bucket one. How can I not be...?

Everyone under the sun has been posting videos on Facebook. The Ice Bucket Challenge has reached celebrities including Roger Federer, Justin Timberlake, J. Lo, Anna Wintour (yes, she did have half a bucket poured over her hairdo!), Oprah Winfrey and billionaire Bill Gates dousing themselves in ice water. The timing is perfect since it is summer in the Northern hemisphere therefore weather and holidays allow for most of us to accomplish the challenge within 24 hours.

I filmed my son's contribution about three weeks ago on a beach in Greece without thinking it could be my turn soon.

Although I am usually the first to adhere to wacky, fun ideas, this social media buzz has gone a wee bit over the top in my opinion.

The good news is that the ice bucket donations have reached over $80 million to date - the ALS Association had raised $64 million in all of 2013 - and has become a pop culture phenomenon, but how many really know any more about the Lou Gehrig disease than a few months ago?


Therefore I accept the nomination bestowed upon me by my friend Mamita Cubana and will donate towards the ALS foundation but beforehand - rather than getting wet - I prefer to share 10 facts about this disease that you should know and remember:

1.) ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.
2.) It was first found in 1869 by French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot.
3.) It wasn’t until 1939 that Lou Gehrig brought national and international attention to the disease. Ending the career of one of the most beloved baseball players of all time, the disease is still most closely associated with his name.
4.) Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.
5.) Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death.
6.) When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.
7.) Most commonly, ALS strikes people between the ages of 40 and 70.
8.) ALS has cut short the lives of such notable and courageous individuals such as actor David Niven.
9.) The Ice Bucket Challenge went viral thanks to former Boston College baseball star Pete Frates and his wife Julie.
10.) The co-founder of the hugely popular challenge, Corey Griffin, 27, has died after drowning in a diving accident in Massachusetts last week.

Following is a short graphic video about the effects of Lou Gehrig's disease:



In the spirit of the challenge, I'd like to nominate my daughter Expat girl, the Flaneuse Press Officer and my sister Pink! You have 24 hours. When doing the challenge, please use the hashtags #icebucketchallenge, #alsicebucketchallenge, and #strikeoutals. Donations can be made to: http://www.alsa.org/

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hello neighbour...

When was the last time you ran out of sugar and asked your neighbour for a favour? Personally, I hopped across the landing last year to ask mine for a bottle opener. She looked very confused and surprised but handed me one nevertheless.

Pumpipumpe is a Switzerland-based project that is encouraging residents to place stickers on their mailbox to denote the goods they’re willing to lend to their neighbours.

The idea was initially formed to enable those with bike pumps to indicate to fellow cyclists that they could knock and use theirs in the case of a flat tyre — hence the name Pumpipumpe (lending pumps).

The scheme has since expanded into a system allow neighbours to advertise any object available to borrow.

Those who want to take part can simply order a pack of stickers from the project’s website. Each sticker is a small blue square that features illustrations including a bike pump, lawn mower, kitchen scale, children’s toys, and even internet access and fancy dress costumes.

The idea is that homeowners place the stickers for the items they have on their mailbox so passersby can know if they’re good to knock on the door. The stickers are free to anyone in Switzerland or Germany.

Could this idea work in your part of the world?


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Five Types of Global Minds You Meet Abroad

Are you an explorer, keen to see the world? Or are you simply moving abroad because you’re sent there on an expat assignment? There are various different kinds of Internationally minded people roaming the globe. Following are five common types of such global minds.

The Explorer
The explorer simply loves to travel the globe, to seek out foreign shores and explore the world. Displaying a keen interest in all that is new and unknown, the explorer is oftentimes particularly drawn to destinations which very much differ from home. Asia, for example, is thus a popular destination of choice for western explorers.

While abroad, the explorer actively seeks out to experience the local culture. Attempts to speak the local language are made, but not always successful. Explorers are like nomads, roaming the globe because there is so much to see, learn, and experience, with each trip or stay abroad an adventure to somewhere new.

However, there are some explorers with a particularly focused interest in one specific country or culture, then known as country-/culturephiles. Take for example the Anglophile. Self-made expats often fall into this sub-category, spurred on by their love for a destination to make the move abroad.

The Escapee
Contrary to the explorer, the escapee is less driven by a love for the unknown, and more by a desire to flee their home. Reasons for the escapee’s flight may vary, from simply boredom to trouble with an ex-wife or the law. The common theme, however, is typically the further away and the more exotic the destination, the better.

The expat retiree is a classic example for the escapee type. Finally able to enjoy the fruits of their life-long labors, most retirees seek out sunny shores to escape the wet and cold climates of their home countries. Florida and Thailand, for instance, are popular destinations for the pensioned escapee.

The Foreign Partner
The foreign partner is living abroad not because of a love or hate for one country, but simply because of love, period. Regardless of whether they have met the love of their life during an explorer’s adventure or simply at the supermarket checkout, the foreign partner finds themselves abroad because love knows no borders.

Depending on their general disposition and personality, moving abroad for love may be the happy fulfilment of a lifelong dream or have the potential of becoming a nightmare. Only the end of the honeymoon phase will tell.

The International Local
Not a foreign resident himself, the International local is nevertheless very much a global mind. They actively seek out travelers and foreigners, or are at least glad to be gotten in touch with and are thankful for opportunities to share their local expertise with strangers.

International locals are often returned explorers or repatriates themselves, hungering for familiar accents and opportunities to speak the language, keen on sharing experiences, news and stories about the former host-country, or simply hoping to get back this feeling of travelling and experiencing foreign cultures.

The Classic Expatriate
Sent abroad for a few years by their current employer, the classic expatriate typically takes this chance to further their career and ideally also get some expat benefits out of their stay abroad. Being sent abroad is, however, already where most similarities between classic expatriates end. Based on their individual characters and their behavior while living abroad, there are at least three very distinct subcategories of classic expatriates: the alien, the elitist, and the assimilator.

The alien sticks out in his host country and culture like a sore thumb, whether by choice (e.g. culturally insensitive behavior), or by circumstances (e.g. outward appearance). The elitist similarly does not integrate in the local culture, but spends most of his time, both at work and at home, with fellow expats. The assimilator, on the other hand, does their best to blend in by speaking the local language and adhering to local customs.


Of course, as is always the case with types and categories, these are very much a broad generalization. In real life, things are hardly ever as black and white. In fact, global minds can easily be identified or identify themselves with more than one of these types or a totally different type entirely. A keen explorer, for instance, may happily be sent abroad on a classic expat assignment.

So which global mind are you?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Who am I?

Have you ever stopped and wondered what your life was all about? Sound philosophical? Well, we spend so much time running around making sure our family settles in securely and comfortably, we tend to forget ourselves.

Stop and take ten minutes to think about your journey!

In relocating abroad we are neither the person we were before nor a blank slate. We are the product of our life-times experiences, cultural, familial and societal influences, our roles and attitude transported onto a new base of differing cultural and societal influences and evolving roles.

Here are a few questions to start you on the process of thinking about “Who you want to be?”

Think back to who you were, in your last location.

So, you left home feeling pretty clear on this one. You probably were a partner, perhaps a parent, daughter/son, brother/sister, friend, colleague, perhaps you also had a role in the local community and a career that gave you a title, something that defined you in some way, accountant, lawyer, manager, director, nurse, doctor….

So, who were you?

Write a paragraph about who you were. Think about your roles, your attitude, beliefs and what was important to you.

What changed when you relocated? Write a paragraph about how you and your roles have changed as a result of relocation.

How do you feel about this? In what ways are you comfortable and happy, and in what ways are you not?

What aspects of you/your roles are important for you to retain?

What themes come to you as you re-read what you have written so far? 

Who would you like to be in the future?



Friday, August 8, 2014

Pardo Way - another way to enjoy the Locarno Film Festival

Pardo Way is a selection of top bars and nightspots in town, the optimal itinerary to recharge your batteries between the screenings. During the Festival (6-16 August) this exclusive group of venues offers a series of gastronomic and entertaining initiatives linked to the Festival’s culture. Starting from breakfast, snacks, lunch and aperitif, Pardo Way goes on with thematic tastings, shows, concerts and nightlife that are going to amuse our festivalgoers and keep them busy. It’s been a few years since the Pardo Way label has became a synonym of quality of service, originality of entertainment, extended closing times and Festival spirit. This long-term success brought the initiative to grow and welcome three new members for the 2014 edition. Starting from the very heart of the Festival, Piazza Grande, and getting to Ascona, the members of Pardo Way keep their commitment to give sparkle and taste to the Locarno area.

The typical day of the early bird among the festivalgoers starts at the feet of the Sant’Antonio church, at the Tea Room e Pasticceria Marnin. This enchanting spot, one of the three new entries of this year, welcomes the more courageous of our visitors, starting from 5AM, for a delicious breakfast.

By continuing on the via Borghese, you will reach the Caffè al Borgo. This suggestive café litteraire in the heart of the old town, is characterized by its idyllic courtyard and its furniture that smells of ancient times: here one can read its way through several international newspapers, before starting the day with the first screenings.

If you set out to the Piazza Grande, pulsing heart of our Festival, you will get to the Fashion 2Shé, charming venue known for its music and delicious cocktails to help our guests start their nights after the screenings. This bar also turns out to be an ideal stop for a quick lunch, between one movie and another. From 6AM to 1AM, Fashion 2Shé benefits from an always-open kitchen.

For a more relaxing atmosphere, on the opposite side of the Piazza, under the walls of the mythical Rivellino, you will find the Rivellino Garden. In its idyllic courtyard behind Pardo Bar, besides a refreshing moment, one can enjoy excellent drinks along with some delicious snacks.

In the early afternoon hours, behind the Spazio Cinema (Forum), our festivalgoers can enjoy some calm moments in the enchanting lounge inspired by the exotic Orient, the Oasi Casablanca. Between its colors, scents, ethnic flavors and relaxing sounds, this venue offers refreshment to the tireless traveler of film.

After the afternoon screenings, it is time to head back to the Piazza Grande, which is slowly welcoming the first spectators. Not very far from here, Caffè Bartolomeo offers refreshing cocktails, ice creams and snacks, whereas for lunch, daily menus delight the hungry visitors.

When evening takes over, the stomachs of the festivalgoers start to grumble: before rushing to Piazza Grande, it is time for a nice dinner. Happy Carrot Project, is a meeting point with an ethnic, natural and creative flavor. Starting from 6PM, in the magnificent setting of the Piazza St. Antonio, it offers homemade cuisine and local products for sensitive appetites.

The visitors that long for more genuine and ordinary flavors, are welcomed at Negromante. This charming and relaxed atmosphere, just a few steps from Piazza St. Antonio, will enchant you with its rustic kitchen, that mixes both American and local flavors and traditions, and with its authentic Ticino charme.

Continuing your journey through the old town, you may stop at the Bistrot Teatro Paravento. From 6PM onwards, this charming spot welcomes you in a special atmosphere where you can taste natural food and good drinks, accompanied by exquisite music and live performances. This year they also present two exclusive art shows, as well as a selection of independent short films.

At 9.30 PM the lights in the Piazza Grande slowly fade out, and silence overwhelms the main square of our town. It is time to enjoy the enchanting atmosphere of this main venue, while allowing oneself to be carried away into the fantasyland that is film.

After the screening in Piazza Grande, the festivalgoer can relax in the Cinebar Swisscom, film lounge in Largo Zorzi, right behind the big screen. Here you can enjoy refreshing summer drinks in a relaxed atmosphere. Entertainment is assured by live concerts and shows.

More live shows continue at the nearby Bar Magnolia @ Spazio RSI, where live radio shows and music programs will delight your evening.

The Locarno hub, La Rotonda del Festival, maintains its usual strength and attraction points: from 6 PM to 3 AM it is lightened by lights, music, ethnic flavors and entertainment, offering our festivalgoers four main Areas of fun: Area Villaggio (food, beverage and market), Area 621 (where the nightlife of Locarno starts), Area Lounge Garden (for a more sophisticated atmosphere), and Area bambini (where fun is guaranteed also for the little ones).

The Pardo Way and its nightlife do not stop in Locarno: thanks to the free shuttle bus you can enjoy your nights in Ascona as well. The Lido Patriziale di Ascona, located on the lakeside, offers a modern atmosphere, DJ sets, cocktails and parties until 3AM.

The last stop of Pardo Way is the Club Seventy7, a nightclub open until 5 AM, on the main Piazza of Ascona, which welcomes party people with great music and special guests. All the Pardo Way venues 2014 are indicated on the Festival official map and have an official sign at the entrance.


Good luck and enjoy!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Film Festival Locarno 2014

Founded in 1946, the Festival del film Locarno is one of the oldest film festivals in the world, alongside Venice and Cannes. Created as a festival aiming to discover new talent and new trends, Locarno has established itself on the international scene, as an invaluable launch-pad for the new generation in world cinema.

Throughout its 67 year history, the Festival del film Locarno has occupied a unique position in the landscape of the major film festivals. Every August, for eleven days the Swiss-Italian town of Locarno, right in the heart of Europe, becomes the world capital of auteur cinema.

Thousands of film fans and industry professionals meet here every summer to share their thirst for new discoveries and a passion for cinema in all its diversity.

At Locarno they find a quality programme, rich, eclectic, surprising, and where emerging talent rubs shoulders with prestigious guests. The audience is the soul of the Festival, as exemplified in the famous evenings on the Piazza Grande, whose magical setting can accommodate up to 8,000 filmgoers every night.

You should be one of them!

Venue: Locarno Film Festival
Where: Piazza Grande, 6600 Locarno
When: August 6th to 16th, 2014
Programme 2014 click here: http://www.pardolive.ch/en/


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Impressions of a Swiss Mountain village












Monday, August 4, 2014

Best photo of August 1st

Have you taken photos on Swiss National Day? Do you have one you really would like to share? Have you ever heard of Viewfinder?

As Switzerland’s first English-language photography learning center, Viewfinder leads the way in providing creative learning experiences that encourage people to develop their own passion for photography, take better pictures and simply have more fun with photos.

Viewfinder Center is hosting a photography contest for images shot on August 1st 2014. A holiday is good enough reason to become excited, but when the opportunity to shoot some fun photos and perhaps win a terrific prize also presents itself, they will certainly be waving flags and enjoying themselves.

Have you captured images of how you spend Swiss National Day in Switzerland? Then e-mail them to david@viewfindercenter.com in order to take part in the competition. Viewfinder are hoping to see a large variety of pictures from different parts of the country.

Entries will be judged by the Viewfinder jury according to photographic merit, originality, Swissness and humour. Tradition, sport, natural beauty, history and geography may be some keys which help when deciding what you would like to submit.

Submit your 3 best images by midnight on August 8th 2014. In order to be eligible for  their competition. Images should be taken within Switzerland during the 24 hours of August 1st 2014 and delivered by e-mail to david@viewfindercenter.com (JPG format, max. flie size of 200kB).

By submitting your pictures, each photographer agrees to allow the Viewfinder Center for Photography to display their work on the Viewfinder news blog and grants Viewfinder permission to share their images via Social Media without limitation.

The winner will be awarded a free Viewfinder Excursion offered in the next 12 months. Viewfinder will also print any image belonging to the winning photographer up to 70cm x 50cm (canvas with hidden frame).

Here is my contribution of Swissness:



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