Saturday, May 31, 2014

5 tips for a happy Expat life

Expat life can be a roller coaster. Those of you who are on it, know this all too well. Here are five tips I have come across, that hit home and made me smile. All too often we take the little things for granted, instead we should stop in our tracks and appreciate the moment.

1.) Schedule time for your most significant relationship
Check in with each other along the relocation journey, even when it starts to feel like home. There is no-one lonelier than a lonely expat.

2.) Give yourself time to adapt, plenty of time
No matter how many times you move, or how good you get at it, it is rarely easy or straightforward. Even when it feels easy, it can still take up to a year before you are feeling settled, so be gentle with your expectations.

3.) Balance your online and in-person life
It is easy to get caught up in new friendships at the expense of old ones, or cling to friends from home as a way of avoiding making new ones. Both have their place, both are necessary and both should be cherished.

4.) Look for the similarities and enjoy the differences
Remember that people the world over are more similar than they are different. Look for the similarities and enjoy the differences and be open to whatever lies in-between.

5.) Never decide to become an expat primarily for the money
Expat life is exciting and challenging, usually both at the same time. Your heart and your spirit (and those of your partner) are much stronger indicators to success than your fatter wallet.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Meet the Parisfamily

A few weeks ago, I came across a blog called Parisfamily. And guess what, they're from Ticino!

They design, create and decorate. Their blog brings together all the little and big things that make life beautiful. You'll find inspiration for chores, recipes and many ideas to do yourself. The photos are delicate and imaginative.

So go ahead, hop over to their site and take a peek:

Their latest posts will provide you with b&w printed flags of all the teams participating in the upcoming Football World Cup in Brazil for your children to colour. Collect the nations flags each week until you have all the groups. Colour all the flags and create a garland to decorate your room. Your kids are gonna love it!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Time to hit the road - Excursions for a long weekend around Lugano

Tomorrow evening the weekend starts, yupee! And it's only Wednesday. Four days to relax and enjoy what Ticino and its surroundings have to offer.

Following is a list compiled by the International and American Women's Mums & Tots group a few years ago. It is an extensive list and comes in very handy when you need some inspiration on a Wednesday afternoon or a weekend.

It does not include the most obvious attractions that are well publicized and you can find under my "Out and About" section on the sidebar of this blog.

So, are you ready? Here goes:

In Ticino: - Parco San Grato, has a playground, restaurant and beautiful surroundings to explore - Parco Tassino, large playground and deer! Great park with lots of space, picnic and play areas - bobsleigh track, flying fox (zip wire) restaurant and great playground an adventure park with zip wires, rope bridges and climbing frames between trees in the forest - A walk rated as easy, so possible with kids, in beautiful scenery - take a cable car up to Cardada for some lovely family friendly walks.à-Ascona - one playground in Ascona, however I have been told that there is a really great playground on the lakefront of Ascona. If you go down to the mini roundabout where the start of the pedestrianised promenade is on your right (where all the restaurants are), instead turn left, walk past a large public car park, and you will see this playground - it has electric minicars - need 1CHF coins for them. - steam miniature railway - strange opening hours though. - a boat trip to the island of Brissago, perhaps combine with a trip to Ascona and the playground on the lakefront! - Has electric mini-cars and great trampolines as well as the mini golf. Is next door to a great little lido too, with a very nice beach. (and they sell Ben and Jerry's ice cream)

Near Zurich: - Switzerland's largest zoo and definately worth a trek up north - amazing looking waterpark - it is two hours away from Lugano by car but it looks like an excellent day trip nonetheless - Goldau wildlfe park, with restaurant and playground, came highly recommended by one of our members

Just across the border in Italy: - brilliant safari park, not far from Malpensa airport, complete with amusement park with rides suitable for toddlers, reptile house, animal shows... a fantastic full day out - a large park with models of dinosaurs, playground, and restaurant - a fantastic day out, an amusement park with lots of rides suitable for the youngest members of the family, reptile house, aquarium, mini farm, and to-scale models of the famous monuments of Italy - has a playground, inflatable slides and trampolines as well as the minigolf - man made lake in Milan with playground, lido and restaurant - same as (adventure park with zip wires, rope bridges and climbing frames) but in Italy - large natural park to explore, with a large lake, restaurant and what seems to be a zoo too - a zoo with a wide variety of animals, white tigers, elephants Castle of Vezio on the shores of Lake Como, complete with a display of falconry if you are lucky

Ever wondered where that stunning backdrop to Daniel Craig's rest & recuperation in the film 'Casino Royale' was? Well, the name's Como, Lake Como! So, go see for yourself and explore the villas on Lake Como ( - the kids may enjoy running around the gardens while you excape into James Bond's or George Clooney's arms (in your dreams). Perhaps best combined with eating ice cream somewhere, and feeding the ducks on the lakefront, or a boat trip on the lake.

Villa Carlotta - the most well known, parking is easy, you can have access to the villa as well as the grounds. There is a fountain that is full of fish and toads which can kept little explorers amused for at ages while they watch 'toad arguments'. Also a nice cafe there, picnic areas and beautiful scenery.

Villa Del Balbianello (Lenno) - only the gardens are open to the public

Villa Melzi (Bellagio) - only the gardens are open to the public

Villa Monestero (Varenna) - The House Museum, the historical and noble residence, where its fourteen rooms can be visited following a charming itinerary.

Punta Balbianello - Villa Balbianello is the romantic spot featured in the second episode of the Star Wars saga.

Now isn't this is a smashing list? 
Thank you so much for sharing. 
This should keep your little explorers busy for a while. 
The question is can we keep up with them???

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Scherrer Park

A Greek temple on the shores of Lake Lugano, next to a Siamese teahouse, or an Egyptian temple?

Parco Scherrer in Morcote offers you the unique opportunity of taking an extraordinary trip through time and space, where past and present, history and nature co-exist in perfect harmony.

In 1930 a little old house with a stable overlooked by vineyards and a chestnut grove stood on the shore of Lake Lugano, at the foot of Mount Arbostora. Arthur Scherrer bought the house at that time, and also the land above it, hillside after hillside. First of all, he oversaw the renovation of the house, transforming it into a magnificent residence with great architectural taste. He was a passionate gardener and a romantic, and thus over the years he created his “Garden of Wonders”. During his travels Arthur had admired a great number of exotic plants and, captivated by their charm, did not hesitate to reproduce the vegetation in the park.

Many plants today are still labelled with their scientific name. The park is made up of two areas, each with a predominant style: one Mediterranean and one Asian. The path first winds its way through Mediterranean-style gardens in Renaissance and Baroque style, with a wide array of statues. It then continues through an oriental landscape of bamboo forests, surprising the visitor with its Siamese, Arab and Indian buildings, surrounded by the typical flora of these regions.

Weather permitting, this could be a great Wednesday afternoon outing with your kids.

15th March - 31th October
Opening hours: from 10 am to 5 pm. / July and August from 10 am to 6 pm.

Adults: CHF. 7.-
Children to the age of 16: CHF. 2.-

Lenght of visit: 1 - 1 1/2 h
Dogs: On the lead
Accessibility to bikes: No
Playground: No
Pic-nic area: Yes
Restaurant/Bar: "La Casa Ticinese", at the entrance of the park

Friday, May 23, 2014

The ultimate traveller's dream job

Do you like travelling the world? Then why not turn your passion into your profession?

Swiss, the airline, is offering you the ultimate travel job for six months. Apply now as a SWISS Explorer and travel all around the world. You'll visit the trendy venues and experience cultural and gastronomic highlights. You'll test the travel tips on Swiss' new website, and add your own to them. And you'll blog, report, film, document and twitter from all four corners of the globe, becoming a stylistically confident, critical, independent ambassador for the Swiss airline.

What skills and abilities do I need to have?
You'll have a personal and expressive style of writing, speak and write fluent English, understand Swiss culture, and have a flair for new media and how to use them. Yep, that would be me!!!!

If this sounds like your dream job to you, then Swiss wants you as their SWISS Explorer. I know I would apply, if I were 20 years younger and still single!

If you're tempted, check out the details here and send your application in by May 28th, 2014. Make sure you keep us posted, should you get selected!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Mathmergency of a 4-year old - priceless!

Take-aways are tough to learn, especially when you’re only four!

All US kids know to call 911 when they need help but this boy is ingenious...he took aid to a whole new level. The nice part is, that there are still human beings out there, willing to give a helping hand when needed. The importance of an emergency depends on the caller's age, I guess. Well done to the police officer who handled the mathmergency with a little humor and a lot of patience.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

La festa dei vicini 2014

On May 23rd, 2014 Switzerland joins the Neighbors' Day celebration. It is a very simple initiative that aims to promote a culture of solidarity within the neighbourhood to fight the typical isolation of today's contemporary lifestyle.

Celebrated on Friday May 23rd, 2014 by several million people in Europe, Neighbours' Day has enjoyed cross-continental success. This year, Neighbours Day is supported by more than 1 200 partners (city councils, housing organizations and local associations) in more than 30 countries! The participants have reached 10 million!

Lugano joined this initiative in 2004 for the first time and over the years, citizens' actions have increased exponentially. To date, several hundred people participate with enthusiasm at this annual event. Founded 1999 in Paris by Mr.Atanase Périfan, the Neighbours' Day encountered an immediate success and has been growing ever since.

So why not organize an informal party and invite your neighbours! A simple gesture that can help strengthen the network of solidarity to overcome the distrust and the impoverishment of social relations.

The principle is straight forward: people of the same building or within the same neighbourhood gather on the evening of May 23rd, to eat something together, have a drink, exchange a few words and get to know eachother better. An easy way to create solidarity or simply find opportunities to be together.

Three good reasons to join the party:
1. Get to know and appreciate your neighbour!
2. Unity is strength ... and makes life easier
3. A name, a face, a story...

Check your mailbox for the pre-printed invitation pack, click here or e-mail: or phone: Tel. 058 866 74 57.

You can also check out my Swiss neighbourhood rules before you embark on your adventure! Most importantly: don't forget to have fun! Remember the Swiss can be fun, just give them a chance. ;)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Photographic challenge: Know-it-all passport winner

Remember the photographic challenge for Switzerland's Education guide I wrote about in March? Well, I thought I'd let you in on the winners.

Their photos will be used as canton and chapter separator pages in the 2nd edition of Education Guide Switzerland, Know-it-all passport's comprehensive catalog covering English-language schools and academic programs in Switzerland. Click here to see all the winners:

The winner for TICINO is Michelle Mihalkovic. Bravo and Congratulations!

Friday, May 16, 2014

InCucina - Cooking courses for kids

Are your kids budding chefs?

INCUCINA organizes cooking classes designed just for little chefs who cheerfully learn to prepare tasty recipes in the company of real cooks.

Each child has his own work station with cutting board, tools, apron and everything he/she needs to be prepared. Should the batteries run low during the class, sweet drinks and a healthy, salty snack will be provided.

The courses are generally held on a Saturday morning for up to 12 children and last two and a half hours.

Don't miss the next course, tomorrow morning, where chef Sonia Porta will teach the kids to whip up some cupcakes with a fresh lemon icing and decorate them with friendly inhabitants of the sea, all made out of sugar paste.

Call quickly at 091 922 22 74 or drop them an e-mail for further information:

Venue: InCucina Children's cooking class
Where: Corso Elvezia /Via Fusoni 2, 6900 Lugano
When: Saturday, May17th, 2014
Time: 10:00 to 13:00

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Rainbow Pinwheel Cookie recipe

Today, I came across the coolest biscuit recipe ever. I was looking for some inspiration for my daughter's 11th birthday party. She is into "Peace & Love" big time. These rainbow pinwheel biscuits should be a big hit.

Here is the recipe for RAINBOW PINWHEEL COOKIES

3/4 cup butter, softened
3 ounces cream cheese
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
assorted colors of paste food coloring
24 lollipop sticks

1.) In a bowl cream butter, cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat until smooth.

2.) In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. Stir till soft dough forms. Divide dough into fourths.

3.) Tint each with a different food color.

4.) Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours.

5.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

6.) Working with half of each color, shape dough into 3/4 inch balls and for each cookie place 1 pink, 1 green, 1 blue and 1 orange ball together to make 1 large ball.

7.) Shape into a 12 inch long roll (like a snake), starting at one end, coil roll to make a 2 3/4 inch round cookie.

8.) Roll edges of the cookie in sprinkles

9.) Place cookies 3 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheet. Carefully insert lollipop sticks into bottoms of cookies.

10.) Bake cookies for 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Ultimate Family Moving guide

Anyone who’s ever been through a move knows it can be a stressful experience - and even more so when relocating abroad. The stresses of moving affect not only you but your family too, especially when young children or elderly family members are involved.

Removal Services Scotland has put together "The Ultimate Family Moving Guide", so whether you're a moving pro or a first timer, this handy guide can take the stress out of your next move.

As any expat knows, the key to a successful move is all in the preparation. By readying yourself for any possible bumps in the road ahead of time, you can rest assured you’ll be prepared to handle anything moving throws at you, or so we'd like to think...

This guide focuses on the four big milestones you’ll face when moving your family, and considers your family’s happiness and wellbeing every step of the way.

1. Helping your family prepare for the move
It'll provide you with helpful advice on ways to support your family and cope with the emotions and fears which often arise when moving from the family home.

2. Packing up your family life
It'll give you practical tips to help you successfully organise and pack up your family life ready for the big day.

3. Getting your family through the big day
Using our experience and research, this guide will provide you with some useful tips, advice, and things to consider for your family on moving day.

4. Settling into your new family home
Read the expert advice on how to settle your family into your new home. It'll also consider ways to help your whole family adjust to their new surroundings.

Click here to download: The Ultimate Family Moving guide

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Ever heard of Sinplus?

Ever heard of Sinplus? They are a Swiss duo, made up of brothers Ivan and Gabriel Broggini. Not only are they Swiss but they are Ticino natives from Losone.

The duo was chosen to represent Switzerland in the Eurovision Song Contest 2012. Now they have come out with a new summer-vibe song. It's a fresh melody and a simple, but powerful message: the best things in life are for free! “Love Is Free” is the new single featuring a very special guest: the Jamaican British singer Lady Chann.

Check out their video, you might even recognise a few places close to home:

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Trailing Spouse facts

Lately I have been reading many articles about what is called the trailing spouse syndrome. Personally, I find this term sounds overdrammatic but who am I to judge?

There is one research I would like to share with you by the entitled "Being dumped in to sink or swim: an empirical study of organizational support for the trailing spouse".

Mrs Yvonne McNulty found that spouse adjustment is a multi-faceted construct that is inflfenced by a range of factors and corresponding support. Trailing spouses identified a number of activities that they perceived would help with their adjustment during an International assignment:

- using internet and email (91%)
- socializing with expatriates (90%)
- spending time with their spouse and children(81%)

were the top three adjustment coping mechanisms. Unfortunately, spending enough time with their (employed) spouse proved to be a tremendous challenge and was cited as a major source of marital tension and frustration. The least important adjustment activity was voluntary or unpaid work (41%), which was resented by some spouses as "supporting the local citizens for free", without being "good enough to be employed, pay my taxes and be given my independence".

They found that 84% of trailing spouses had a tertiary qualification or a college education and 79% had a career prior to relocating. Yet, only 36% were able to continue their career once relocated due mainly to visa and work permit restrictions.

Social and professional support were found to be important facilitators of spouses’ identity reconstruction as a way "to belong" and "to be able to create a life of my own". Being "dumped in to either sink or swim" and "being treated by the company as totally invisible" were frequent complaints. Language training was found to be important for building self-esteem and coping with everyday practicalities, where fluency in the host-country language was perceived to provide "power and independence".

The study concludes that International assignments rarely impact just one aspect of life for a trailing spouse, but instead feeds into and influences other areas of life such as feelings of self-worth, self-esteem, identity, and marriage and family relationships.

Attitude can also play an important role. Despite some rather negative findings, spouses recognized that certain stages of a move are more stressful than others. In recognizing that the development of a portable identity is both an outer as well as an inner journey, spouses were clear that "it comes down to the individual" where "being the trailing spouse can be viewed as an encumbrance or an opportunity".

...which I have been preaching all along the way. Check out my post onmy personal blog at:

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