Sunday, April 23, 2017

World Book Day or Dia de la Rosa

International Day of the Book is a yearly event on April 23rd, organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), to promote reading, publishing and copyright.

The connection between 23 April and books was first made in 1923 by booksellers in Catalonia, Spain. The original idea was of the Valencian writer Vicente Clavel Andrés as a way to honour the author Miguel de Cervantes, who died on this date.

In 1995 UNESCO decided that the World Book and Copyright Day would be celebrated on 23 April, as the date is also the anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega.

Unesco's vision is that World Book and Copyright Day is an opportunity to highlight the power of books to promote our vision of knowledge societies that are inclusive, pluralistic, equitable, open and participatory for all citizens.

In Catalonia, St. George's Day has been "The Day of the Rose" since 1436, and involves the exchange of gifts between loved ones and respected people—it is analogous to Valentine's Day. Although World Book Day has been celebrated since 1995 internationally, books were exchanged on "The Day of the Rose" in Catalonia since 1929, in memory of Cervantes.

So, whom would you present with a rose or a book today? Which book would you choose?

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Consider launching your startup in Ticino?

Ever thought of opening up a business in Ticino? Wondering where to start?

The Lugano Chapter of Swiss Finance + Technology Association is happy to invite you to a meeting about start-up businesses that will be held at the Tecnopolo Manno where they will be guests of Fondazione Agire.

The Association is an independent membership-based organisation which is leading in the development of financial technology (FinTech) innovation ecosystem in Switzerland.

During this meeting Fondazione Agire represented by Mr. Barberis will show you the possibilities for renting spaces at affordable prices and all the other services offered for the startups. KPMG and Atty. Lars Schlichting will explain the advantages of establishing a company in Ticino.

This is the perfect opportunity to get started. One step at a time...

Venue: Tecnopolo Manno
Where: Via Cantonale 18, 6928 Manno
Date: Monday, April 24th, 2017
Time: 14:00
Register here:

Friday, April 21, 2017

Alpine Airbnb in Switzerland

Switzerland's Tourism Office has launched a platform for renting Alpine huts in Switzerland – a kind of Swiss Alpine hut Airbnb. has more than 250 offers in all categories, from very simple accommodation to a very high standard. This new platform is part of a wider summer campaign, launched on Thursday, to attract tourists into the Swiss countryside, under the slogan “Nature wants you back”.

Tourists can also go onto the new platform My Swiss Experience to make their own Gruyère or go fishing on Lake Constance in the early morning or can use the Wildlife Watching platform to find help in observing the Alpine ibex, marmot and bearded vulture, to name but a few.

So you might have to be Swiss to understand the humour in this video but Switzerland's nature needs no explanation. It is truly sensational!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Happy Easter

Friday, April 14, 2017

Swiss Easter Chocolate

The iconic Lindt Gold Bunny dressed in gold, with a ribbon and golden bell that rings!
For generations, the Lindt Gold Bunny has been just as much a part of an Easter nest as Easter eggs. What makes it so popular is that it is as simple as it is good.

Läderach's Easter egg selection. 
Läderach has stood for top-quality, hand-made Swiss chocolate specialities since 1962.

Oh look, it's a pink Easter bunny!
The perfect chocolate for my Easter Nest.

Chocolate heaven in my local supermarket

Easter version of a Swiss Carac. 
Mystery surrounds the origin of carac! We only know that it was already available in the early twentieth century. Why does it have this name? Might it be a phonetic link to carafe, which defines a type of cocoa of high quality as the one produced in the vicinity of Caracas, as noted in The Universal Dictionary of Practical Cooking by Joseph Favre (1894), Swiss cuisine theorist and cook.

What better way to start your day?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Lugano in the spring time

View onto Lugano and Monte Bré from Sorengo

Tempted to take a dip. If I swam to the other side I'd be in Italy!

Stepping out of the train station and into a picture perfect decor

Muzzano has a population of 821 inhabitants 
and the entire village is designated as part of the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites

If walls could speak I am sure their stories would be breathtaking.
Mazzano is first mentioned in 1189.

Palm trees are common in this part of the world

A lovely iron gate from the past

A hidden garden with friendly hosts

A touch of colour is always good

The statue of San Francesco d'Assisi looking down onto the lake of Lugano.
The church of Santa Maria Assent in Sorengo dates back to 1298.

A pink blast of spring

Friday, April 7, 2017

Easter in the city of Lugano

Join the festive atmosphere of Easter in the City and explore the numerous intriguing and entertaining activities for young and old.

Every year Easter draws a myriad of vacationers and travelers to Lugano. In order to add some zest to the picturesque city center, the City of Lugano and their tourist center organize an event called "Pasqua in Città" (Easter in the City), which will take place from Friday, April 14th through Monday April 17th, 2017.


Here is a peak at the programme:

14.04-17.04 / 10:00-18:30 / Piazza Manzoni
Wooden handmade games for all the family, creative workshops with recycled materials and face-painting.

14.04-17.04 / 13:30-18:00 / Centro Cittadino
Musical animation with Tacalà, Duo Nostranello, Tirabüscion and the Bagiöö.

14.04-17.04 / 11:00-18:00 / Centro Cittadino

Over 100 stands with handicrafts, food and wine.

15.04-17.04 / 10:30 - 16:00 / Piazza Manzoni
Treasure hunt for the whole family in the city centre, leaving from Piazza Manzoni. Those that find all the clues along the way will be given delicious chocolate eggs as a prize.

14.04 / 14:30 / Piazza San Rocco

15.04 / 15:00 / Piazza Luini - Piazza Dante

15.04 / 17:00 / Patio del Municipio - Piazza Riforma

15.04 / 17:00 / Sala Teatro LAC
Con Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana e Coro della Radiotelevisione Svizzera

14.04 / 20:00 / Centro Cittadino
Via Crucis (start from S. Nicolao)

15.04 / 21:00 / Basilica del Sacro Cuore
Easter Vigil

16.04 / 09:30 / Chiesa Sant’Antonio
Easter Mass

Feeling at home

Once again we are back in Lugano and although it has been six years since we left - what was suppose to be our home for ever and ever - we remain attached to this magical place.

A town embedded by green hills with snowy peaks cascading into a crystal clear lake dotted with villages clinging close to the steep slopes. The stone buildings tightly aligned - dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries - embellished with frescoes and stucco decorations.

An area where - when the sun sets - the bird twitter is still more present than the traffic and the air quality is measured in terms of pollen not pollution.

A community that still greets you with a "Bun Dì" even though they don't know you. Cars stop for pedestrians with a smile and a hand gesture, the odd old boy cheers you on when you jog past and the postman leaves packages on your doorstep not worrying about them being stolen.

A town where you can still spot cows when you look out of the window and hear the church bells chime every hour.

It is a peaceful world where the stress of Paris dissolves in an instant. Where aggressiveness is replaced by courtesy and arrogance by discipline.

It is easy to slither into this comfortable lifestyle but ... then again ... I would miss the vibes of a bustling metropole.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Mac & Four Cheese Gratini en cocotte recipe

It has been a while since I posted a recipe. Here is one I discovered at the Manor department store browsing through Le Creuset's cookbook. Le Creuset "Mini-Cocote" cookbook features 25 specially created recipes for the mini cocotte and its versatile cooking and serving features.

You do know what a cocotte is, right? Yes, it's a shallow baking dish, but Le Creuset turns it so much more! Even Expat girl's friend exclaimed: "Ma questo è tutto un'arte!" when I served it for lunch today. She can definitely come back for lunch anytime!

Macaroni and Four Cheese Gratin

300gr wheat macaroni
20gr unsalted butter
15ml cup heavy cream
50gr Gorgonzola
50gr Fontina
50gr Marscarpone
50gr Parmigiano Reggiano
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Tip: Cheeses with higher fat content melt better than those that with a lower one! So combine your favorites: creamy Fontina, Gorgonzola, buffalo mozzarella, Parmigano Reggiano.

1.) Preheat the oven to 220ºC.
2.) Cook macaroni in boiling salted water for about 8 minutes; it should be al dente; not entirely cooked.  Pass the pasta under cold running water to stop them from cooking.
3.) Melt the butter in a small pan over a low flame. Add the cream, the gorgonzola, the Fontina, the marscarpone and the Parmigiano Reggiano (reserving 4 tablespoons for the top). Stir the cheese until all are well melted. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
4.) Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and divide into 4 mini-cocottes.
5.) Sprinkle the rest of the Parmigiano Reggiano over each cocotte.
6.) Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and crusty looking.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Magic tour around the lake of Lugano

Apart from Lugano itself, there are other places on the shores of Lake Lugano that are worth seeing. The best way is by ship, visiting one of the attractions of the region or dropping in for lunch in a typical grotto. There’s no better way to relax and enjoy your day.

From 8th April 2017, you can enjoy the new boat tours, for example the Magic Tour with four different stops: Leaving Lugano for the romantic village of Gandria and the Cantine di Gandria with the Museo delle Dogane then to Melide, where you can visit the Swissminiatur, the well-known park of Switzerland in a scale from 1:25 or walk along the lake to Bissone all the way to Morcote. This peaceful lakeshore village was once entirely devoted to fishing and is the winner of the contest for "the most beautiful village in Switzerland".

Check out the other lake tours Lugano has to offer:

Thursday, March 30, 2017

What do you know about Swiss expats and emigration?

The Swiss passport seems to open many doors, as an exceptionally high percentage of the Swiss expats (59%) mention that getting a visa for their host country was very easy, an opinion only 41% of their global peers share.

Swissemigration, a division of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs provides documentation and general advisory services on individual countries and specific topics. It produces illustrations on the annual figures for emigration among the usual resident population of Switzerland compiled by the Federal Statistical Office and for statistics on the number of Swiss nationals living abroad.

So, where do you fit in?

Expats from Switzerland are willing to sacrifice some of their income in order to enjoy an adventurous life abroad.

Swiss emigration to Europe for 2015

Total Swiss emigration world-wide in the year 2015

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Charity Movie Night in favour of Progetto Avventuno

In 2017 IWCL Evening Group is fundraising in favour of Progetto Avventuno, a local charity. A growing local association based in Montagnola with the aim to enhance the possibilities for people with Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome) in Ticino.

Avventuno works closely with other organisations, in Switzerland and abroad, to support families and professionals so they can provide the best social and educational setting for young people with Down Syndrome. To reach its objectives the association creates, adapts and translates specific learning tools, selects research, organises events, provides continuing training for professionals and promotes family-centred early intervention.

This is a quick reminder about tonight event. It is still possible to join IWCL last minute to support Progetto Avventuno and watch a lovely movie showing an unexpected journey and unexpected friendship.

Location: Lux Art House (, Via Giuseppe Motta 67, 6900 Massagno
Date: Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Time: 19:00 (drink with finger food) and 20:00 "Where hope grows" (English)
Price: CHF 30 fee will be donated to

Feel free to invite your friends the more we are the better for the charity we are aiming to help. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Is Money the Curse of Art?

Don't miss the next intriguing appointment of the Franklin University Switzerland Lecture Series. Join them for a lecture by Dr. Thomas Girst, Head of Cultural Engagement of the BMW Group. The event is in English and is open to all.

Thomas Girst was born in Trier (DE) in 1971. Following studies in art history, American Studies and German Literature at Hamburg University and New York University, in 2000 he became research manager of the Art Science Research Laboratory in New York. During the same period he was also cultural correspondent for German daily Die Tageszeitung.

As a curator, he organized numerous exhibitions, including “Alive and Kicking: the Collages of Charles Henri Ford” at the Scene Gallery in New York as well as “Marcel Duchamp in Munich 1912” at the Lenbachhaus in Munich.

Since 2003, Dr. Girst is global Head of Cultural Engagement at the BMW Group and is responsible for the strategy, implementation and supervision of hundreds of long-term partnerships in the fields of art, music, design and architecture with major institutions as well as artists worldwide. He teaches at the Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, at the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich, as well as at the Academy of Applied Sciences in Zurich.

In 2016, Dr. Girst received the international “European Cultural Manager of the Year” award.

Venue: Lecture by Dr. Thomas Girst: "Is Money the Curse of Art?"
Where: Franklin University Switzerland, Via Ponte Tresa 29, Sorengo
When: Tuesday, March 28th, 2017
Time: 19:00 to 21:00
Entry is free. A reception will follow the lecture.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Facts about waste water

World Water Day is held on March 22nd to raise awareness of the importance of freshwater. It helps bring attention to a crisis faced by millions around the globe – limited access to fresh, clean water.

This year's theme is 'why waste water' and focuses on getting people to stop wasting the valuable resource.

It is estimated that 663 million people live without access to safe water close to their homes. Instead, they must travel long distances or queue for hours to get it. Many also have to cope with contaminated water – and the associated health problems.

The United Nations General Assembly officially designated March 22nd as World Water Day in 1993. Since then, campaigns have focused on improving water quality and access to freshwater for people around the world. In 2015 – and as part of the Sustainable Development Goals – a UN Initiative set a target to make sure everyone on the planet has access to safe water by 2030.

It is estimated that by 2030, the demand for water will have increased by 50% – most of which will be from people living in cities. As a result, World Water Day organisers are calling for new approaches to wastewater management.

Facts about waste water:
- At present, more than 80% of wastewater produced is pumped back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused.
- Despite most of the world's population being expected to live in cities by 2050, most – especially in developing countries – do not have the infrastructure or resources needed to manage wastewater.
- 1.8 billion people (more than a quarter of the world's population) use a source of drinking water that is contaminated by faeces. This places them at risk of a host of deadly diseases including dysentery, cholera and polio.
- It is estimated that unsafe water and poor sanitation kills 842,000 people every year.
- An area of land roughly equivalent to the size of Sri Lanka is irrigated with wastewater or polluted water. This causes health problems in the farmers working on the land, and eventually the people who consume the products they produce.
- Water, sanitation and hygiene could prevent 9.1% of the global disease burden – and an estimated 6.3% of all deaths.
- Improved water sources reduces the number of deaths from diarrhoea by 21%, while improved sanitation can reduce it by 37.5%.
- According to the USGS, the average person uses up to 100 gallons of water per day. 95% of this goes down the drain – meaning each person wastes between 76-95 gallons every day.
- Despite most of the planet being covered by water, most of it is not available for human use. If the Earth's water fitted into a four litre jug, just one tablespoon would be available freshwater.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Swiss hospitality at its best

This weekend brought us back to Switzerland... yet again... for Expat boy needs to make his first grown-up life-changing decision. Where to go after the International Baccalaureate?

To be perfectly honest he is his father's son, total strategic focus albeit sometimes absent-mined when not interested. His two passions: football and hospitality.

For years he has known that his goal was to study Hotel Management in Switzerland, I figured it might be a good idea if he actually visited the campus and surveyed the groundbreaking training in action.

Arriving in Lausanne on a spectacular sunny day with blue skies and gorgeous views across the Lake Leman, we were blown away by the atmosphere, professionalism, efficiency, cleanliness, organization, beauty and of course hospitality of Swiss Higher Education.

The visits to two different institutes provided an opportunity to personally discover the professionalism and excellence the Swiss hospitality training is world-renowned for. Admissions officers, teaching staff and student ambassadors did an outstanding job in demonstrating what Swiss education stands for and how it successfully prepares students for a wide variety of hospitality management careers across the globe.

So much so, that my husband has now decided he wants to go back to study!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Expat with Kids Social Media

Stuck at home with a thigh muscle strain - needless to say the weather is gorgeous and a run would seem like a great idea - I have reverted to streamlining all my social media feeds... et voilà le résultat!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

You say "tomato", I say "tomato"

It's often said that the biggest difference between a British accent and an American one is rhotacism; words in British English have a flat "r" sound, while in American English the sound is rolled.

Of course, this often isn't true, as accents within Britain and America vary so widely. New York and Boston accents, for example, have a flat "r" sound, while Cornish, Scottish and some West Midlands accents are among those in the British Isles to retain the rhotic "r".

So which is the most common English accent?

English is spoken worldwide by around 840 million people, and is the third most-spoken global language after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. It's the mother tongue of 335 million people, and a second language for a further 505 million. As most English speakers don't speak the language natively, that means the most common English accent in the world is probably what is known officially, if imprecisely, as "international English".

So for some Sunday entertainment I thought I'd share the song – “You say tomato, I say tomato” – which defines the major differences and in which we supposedly agree to call the whole thing off... being half American, half British this is the story of my life!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Expats in Switzerland

It might be easy to presume that given the cultural diversity in Switzerland, the local population would be welcoming to foreigners. However, according to Internations survey in 2016, 67% of Expats in Switzerland disagree when asked whether it is easy to make local friends in Switzerland.

While it may be difficult to settle in Switzerland, the quality of life there is still a big bonus for Expats. The country ranks 10th out of 67 countries in the Quality of Life Index.

It is true that the Swiss can be a little private, reluctant to become friends with foreigners but REMEMBER once they DO become your friend it is for life!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

How much do you know about International Women’s Day?

What exactly is International Women’s Day?
International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. It aims to advance gender parity.

When did International Women’s Day start?
The first official International Women’s Day was held in 1911. It was celebrated on March 19 in Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and Denmark, and was the direct result of the 1910 International Conference of Working Women. At the conference, which took place in Copenhagen, a German woman named Clara Zetkin proposed the idea. Zetkin’s proposal was unanimously approved by the more than100 women in attendance.

So, why do we now celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8?
In 1913, International Women’s Day was officially changed to March 8. March 8, 1917 on the Gregorian calendar was a significant date for Russian women. A women’s strike for “bread and peace” began over the deaths of Russian soldiers in World War I. When the strike concluded four days later, Russian women had won the right to vote under the country’s provisional government.
In 1975, the United Nations began officially celebrating International Women’s Day.

How is International Women’s Day celebrated around the world?
International Women’s Day is celebrated in countries all around the world, including but not limited to the United Kingdom, Russia, China, Japan, Brazil, and the United Arab Emirates. Many countries have their own associated traditions. For example, in Italy, women are given bouquets of yellow mimosa flowers.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

How long do you intend to be an Expat?

How long do you intend to be an Expat was the question put out to the community by my favourite blogger 4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle. My gut answer would be: it's a mindset as much as it is a formal posting abroad.

Technically I have been an Expat all my life; my family left my native country when I was two. I grew up as a Third World Kid, only at the time I didn't know I belonged to either of these two groups. As a matter of fact I didn't fit in anywhere. All through childhood my two best friends were "misfits" just like me. I realise today "being different" is what we had in common and created a bond that still keeps us close after decades.

My parents didn't see themselves as Expats once they decided to settle in Switzerland, so we simply became foreigners calling Zürich our home surrounded by an enormous Anglo-saxon community.

It was only after I married and moved to Argentina that I started defining myself as an Expat... and this opened up a whole new universe. A world where you dare to step out of what is normal, simply because you don't always realize what is considered normal in your host country. Family and friends are far away which means you need to rely on yourself but this also gives you the freedom to explore and re-invent yourself time and time again depending of your destination.

Now THIS is where I found my fit! Thriving with every move and jumping head first into every new adventure, trailblazing making sure my family could keep up.

Being an Expat to me equals venturing out towards new boundaries, opening yourself up without giving yourself up, embracing changes and rising to challenges. It means pushing yourself that extra bit and making the effort to learn the language, meet the natives and explore the local culture.

You change with every expatriation just like your kids mature after every trip you take them on. Places impact you, people leave a mark, cultures influence your character and age shapes your attitude.

After 10 expatriations - in order to maintain an inquisitive spirit and always walk one step beyond my comfort zone - I have taken an active decision to remain an Expat for life even if it looks as though we are settling down in Paris.

After all an Expat is "a person who lives outside their native country" and although this might be the official definition, for me it's the philosophy that I am hooked on, mustering up the courage and determination to plunge into the unknown, knowing that sometimes it may be a bumpy ride but that the rewards will outweigh the hardship!

I have never been known to be able to resist a positive challenge!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

What does it mean to live together in Switzerland?

Why are rubbish bags in Switzerland different colours? Where can you play sports, and what do you need to know when looking for a job or going to school? These are some of the questions newcomers to Switzerland are confronted with. A new app from and the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation provides the answers through an interactive quiz game and online resources.

“Together”, as the app is called, is available for free in seven languages: English, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Arabic. It allows users to test their knowledge, learn new information and challenge other players in 10 quiz categories ranging from jobs to Swiss landmarks.

The app contains more than 300 questions with more questions and categories to be released in the coming weeks and months. Users who have more questions of their own about daily life in Switzerland can submit those to the team behind the appexternal link to have them researched, answered and included in the quiz. How cool is that?!? and the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation decided to produce the “together” app to address newcomers’ desire to integrate into Swiss society and learn more about daily life in the country. Its content is largely based on’s “Switzerland How To” external link offering, which provides information about daily life in Switzerland in 10 languages. So, if you haven't checked it out yet hop over and go browsing!

Together is a playful way to test your knowledge, learn new things and find useful information. Together, we are Switzerland.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Charity Movie Night in favour of Progetto Avventuno

In 2017 IWCL Evening Group is fundraising in favour of Progetto Avventuno, a local charity. A growing local association based in Montagnola with the aim to enhance the possibilities for people with Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome) in Ticino.

Avventuno works closely with other organisations, in Switzerland and abroad, to support families and professionals so they can provide the best social and educational setting for young people with Down Syndrome. To reach its objectives the association creates, adapts and translates specific learning tools, selects research, organises events, provides continuing training for professionals and promotes family-centred early intervention.

Join IWCL to support Progetto Avventuno and watch a lovely movie showing an unexpected journey and unexpected friendship.

Location: Lux Art House (, Via Giuseppe Motta 67, 6900 Massagno
Date: Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Time: 19:00 (drink with finger food) and 20:00 "Where hope grows" (English)
Price: CHF 30 fee will be donated to
Please kindly RSVP to: by March 21, 2017
Feel free to invite your friends the more we are the better for the charity we are aiming to help. Just let us know so we can provide enough food for the aperitivo.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The world's most influential language

What makes a language influential? Is it one with the most speakers?

According to one group of scholars, including cognitive scientist and linguist Steven Pinker, whether or not a language is influential is less about that language itself, and more about how it connects to others.

To establish how languages are connected, the scholars looked at three forms of writing. If someone, a journalist for example, wants their story to go global, they will most likely print the story in their native language, as well as in those languages they think will have the biggest reach.

First, they looked at over 2.2 million book translations between 1979 and 2011, which were made in over 150 countries and more than a thousand languages. They then looked at which edits to Wikipedia were being done in more than one language, scanning 382 million edits in 238 languages by 2.5 million editors. Finally, they turned to Twitter, looking at 550 million tweets in 73 languages written by 17 million users – more than 10% of Twitter’s active user base.

If researching a global language network shows one thing, it's that English remains the number one most connected language in the world. After English, however, there was no single global network, but rather three sets of smaller networks around the world, linked together by languages that have had historical and colonial influence, such as French, Spanish, German, Russian, Portuguese and Chinese.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Do you have Expat DNA?

My love for infographics is obvious. ExpatChild published one on Expat DNA which has been around for a while but is worth deciphering. Which Expat are you?

Breaking down the Expat DNA:

What makes a great expat:
The ability to adapt to change – being flexible.
Keeping an open mind on the people and cultures that you encounter.
Learning & Speaking the local language.
Living, eating and going about life like the locals do and enjoying it : Being local.
Keen to observe and absorb the sights, sounds, smells and sensations that the world has to offer.
Open to new experiences and learning something new everyday.

Bad expat DNA:
Doesn’t stop complaining (Language is too hard, people are too rude or different).
Prefer to mingle only with expats who are similar to themselves.
Not making an effort to try the local foods or adhere to local customs.
Lead their lives like they did in their home country: resistant to change.
Gets homesick at the first thought of their home country.

Irrelevant DNA:
Being a well travelled individual has no bearing on being an expat. First time expats have just as much fun.
Have a high paying job – not a prerequisite to leading a fun and happy expat life.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Expat life: not always a smooth ride

Expat life is not as easy and smooth as many people think. Moving to another country can be one of the best and most exciting experiences of someone’s life, but it can also be very stressful. Rates of depression among expats can be up to 50% higher than the general population. At the heart of expat stress is homesickness, and many, if not all, expats will experience homesickness at some point. 41% of expats say making friends is a key concern of theirs when moving abroad. Learning the language of your destination country is a key part to truly settling in, though speaking English can get you by in most situations. For expats moving abroad, on average it takes between 5 and 7 years for them to fully adjust and integrate into their new country.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

International Mother Language Day

UNESCO is celebrating International Mother Language Day (IMLD) today. 2017 runs under the theme “Towards Sustainable Futures through Multilingual Education”.

On the occasion of this Day, I launch an appeal for the potential of multilingual education to be acknowledged everywhere, in education and administrative systems, in cultural expressions and the media, cyberspace and trade. Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General  

Well, Switzerland represents the prefect example with its four National languages: German, French, Italian and Romansch. Multilingualism is an integral part of Switzerland's national identity, however, that does not mean every Swiss is multilingual.

It is important to know that there are three official languages in Switzerland (German, French and Italian) but there are four National languages (German, French, Italian AND Romansch). Although Romansh is spoken by only some 10,000 people in certain parts of Graubünden, it has five distinct dialects: Sursilvan, Sutsilvan, Surmiran, Puter and Vallader.

Here are some more facts:

- German is the main language of around 64.9% of the population. However, they do not speak standard German but rather various Alemmanic dialects that are collectively known as “Schwiizerdütsch” (Swiss German).
- Swiss German is not a written language, although it is used sometimes in personal correspondence. Standard German is used for all formal, written communication.
- French is the main language of around 22.6% of the population.
- Italian is the main language of around 8.3% of the population.
- Romansch is the main language of about 0.5% of the population.
- Several cantons are multilingual: Bern (German-French), Fribourg (French-German), Valais (French-German) and Graubünden (German-Romansh-Italian).
- Swiss German is the most widely used language in the workplace (66%), followed by standard German (33%), French (29%), English (18%) and Italian (9%).
- Over 42% of the population over the age of 15 regularly use more than one language.
- Foreigners living in Switzerland also contribute to the country's linguistic diversity. English and Portuguese are the most commonly spoken foreign languages.
- Other commonly spoken foreign languages include Spanish, Serbian, Croatian and Albanian.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Swiss Export shopping

It is common for expats to develop quirks about favourite foods and other items from their home country. If you have ever lived abroad you know the feeling.

Strange shopping habits can be spotted before leaving home and returning to an expat destination. Our family calls it Export shopping: it results in a family shopping spree around the Coop (sometimes Migros) stacking the trolley with our favourite food which has now become our comfort food. 

These items cannot be found in the host country and may or may not have actually been part of the expats' lives in their home country but which given half a chance - and with some luck a car rather than a suitcase to fill - will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of being back home. 

A bottle of Ramseier Apfelsaft, a Branchli or a Ragusa, an Ovo crunchy spread or Champions Birchermuesli will make us feel just a little bit better when we get hit with homesickness or nostalgia. A glass of Dole Blanche or a moité-moité cheese fondue will certainly hit the spot. And nobody makes bouillon cubes like the Swiss. NeoCitran, a widely-used cold remedy, will do the job in case of sickness, and the earplugs that come in a pink box let me sleep through thick and thin. And don't get me started on the chocolate... cooking chocolate, white hot chocolate, dark powdered chocolate, marzipan chocolate tablets, nutty chocolate bars and chocolate pralines!


Nor can we resist a Swiss bakery

Suntigszopf im Ussland

Familia Birchermüesli with Hirz Yoghurt... a champion's breakfast!

Le Chiacchiere di Carnevale... bring back sweet memories of Lugano

Ramseier or Rivella?

A typical Swiss Export shopping bag
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