Saturday, January 31, 2015

Call for volunteers at the EU pavilion at Expo Milano

The pavilion of the European Union intends to offer all young Europeans the opportunity to actively participate in a historic event, Expo Milano 2015, contributing to its activities and creating a unique learning and communication experience.

They are looking for over 900 young persons who have a passion for Europe that they would like to share with visitors to the EU Pavilion in their capacity as volunteers.

Those selected will be responsible for crowd management and easing visitor access to the pavilion as well as the dissemination of information about the contents of the EU's participation in Expo and food-related issues.

People interested must be:
- aged between 18 and 30
- a citizen of a EU country or a country participating in the Erasmus+ program
- have good knowledge of English and fair knowledge of Italian language
- knowledge of other languages ​​will be an asset

The selected volunteers will be engaged for a period of 14 or 15 consecutive days and for a maximum of 5 hours and 30 minutes per day. During the rest of the day they will be free to visit the Expo site and all its pavilions.

The site will be open every day from May 1 to October 31, 2015 from 10 am to 11pm. In their application, candidates should indicate their preferences for the time slot and also choose the role they wish to be considered for. They will also be requested to write a short motivation letter in English.

Volunteers will be trained on the content of the EU pavilion as well as on organisation, logistics and safety rules. Urban transport and food expenses will be covered by the EU. For volunteers who do not live in Milan, university accommodation will be sought at affordable prices. All volunteers will receive an official diploma at the end of their service.

By the first half of February, a dedicated website will be activated for the Volunteer Programme for Europe through which you can send your application online. Ciessevi (Centro servizi per il volontariato nella provincia di Milano) will give timely notice on its website

Expressions of interest should be sent to Interested volunteers will be contacted shortly and will receive all the information necessary to apply online.

Friday, January 30, 2015

World’s largest database of cost of living

Yesterday's map shows the difference in living costs around the world using figures from the world's largest database of user contributed data about cities and countries worldwide.

The data was collected by Numbeo, the world's largest database of user-contributed data on costs and prices around the world. It provides current and timely information on world living conditions including cost of living, housing indicators, health care, traffic, crime and pollution.

Just type in your city and hit enter. You'll not only learn what the Average Monthly Disposable Salary is but also how much a pair of Nike shoes cost. Want to know the hourly rent of a tennis court during the weekend or how much you''ll be charged for 1 min. of Prepaid Mobile Tariff locally. Wondering how much a three course meal for 2 in a mid-range restaurant will set you back or what a pack of cigarettes cost?

Looking for concrete answers?

Click here and figure it out for yourself:

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Cost of living world infographic

Sometimes it is not great to be top of the list. Decide for yourself. In Switzerland the high cost of living comes with the exceptional quality of life. This is a very personal judgement and often difficult to measure.

Expats think about cost of living all the time, especially when they’re looking to move from one location to another. The perspective is, therefore, generally focused on that country.

The Consumer Price Index, used to determine the difference in the living costs between countries takes into account the prices of groceries, transportation, restaurants and utilities, each containing a number of variables. The cost of groceries, for instance, is made up of the price for meat, bread, rice, eggs, fruits, vegetables and alcohol. The transportation cost includes one-way tickets, monthly passes, taxi fares, petrol prices as well as the prices of a Volkswagen Golf. The restaurant costs comprise of prices for meals in expensive, mid-range and inexpensive restaurants, as well as the prices for coffee products, alcohol and water in restaurants. The utilities costs are determined by the prices for electricity, heating, water and Internet, among the few.

Here is some awesome data that forces you to take a look at the entire world. I am not quite sure how Venezuela got third place. Someone enlighten me?

An interesting map from MoveHub reveals living costs around the world.

Global Living Costs Map

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Expat with Kids Recipes

Looking for some inspiration in your kitchen? Have some time to cook together with your kids on a Sunday afternoon? Why not check out my Expat with Kids Recipe blog?

I have a passion for cooking and a curiosity for any new recipe as long as it is easy, uncomplicated and fast to prepare.

Desserts are my speciality but I can bash up a 5 course meal if I have to in a couple of hours. You'll find recipes sorted by country, category or ingredient.

So click HERE, enjoy and BUON APPETITO!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Like a Girl

Tell me what it looks like to run like a girl? Which images are going through your mind?

Using "LikeAGirl" as an insult is a hard knock against any adolescent girl. And since the rest of puberty's really no picnic either, it's easy to see what a huge impact it can have on a girl's self-confidence.

Every once in a while I come across a video that makes me smile and think at the same time. This clip is one of them. Please ignore the multinational brand (who is in no way sponsoring my blog) and focus on the message.

After having watched this message I tried the exercise with my daughter. Let's just say, we had to repeat it!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Where are you in the Expat journey?

No matter where you are in the expatriate journey, an understanding of the stages of the expatriate integration process will help to serve as guide throughout your experience.

Pre-departure: I am really doing this?
As you prepare for departure date, you are mixed with feelings of excitement, sadness, and a fair bit of exhaustion as you try to tie up the innumerable loose ends. Bittersweet conversations with friends who are so excited for you, the awkward feeling of goodbyes and your internal realisation, this chapter of life is coming to and end.

Honeymoon: Vacations never felt like this
Your expatriate journey begins with the honeymoon stage where you constantly stimulated by a barrage of new experiences: sights, sounds and smells that feed your insatiable curiosity. Your excitement is palpable as you explore your new environs and carry out everyday tasks.

Culture Shock: Is this really happening?
The “newness” of your transplant home is wearing off, and some of the same things you found so intriguing a few weeks ago now grate on your nerves. It starts slow, but builds as you increasingly can’t help but question the seemingly illogical way things are done comparing them to the “way they do it back home”. You feel fatigued trying to communicate in a new language and successfully navigate the cultural labyrinth without offending the locals.

Transformation: Finding your groove
The transformation stage is longer than the culture shock stage, but with some time, frustration and longing for something familiar are replaced with a true appreciation of the lifestyle and culture of your new country: you are becoming an expat. This transformative stage will be an incredibly rewarding process as you learn and experience the cultural richness of your new home empowering you with a deeper understanding of your own cultural identity.

Integration: A whole new reality
You have accepted and embraced your new lifestyle by successfully bridging the cultural chasm that once existed. While you will never be a native, you have transformed yourself into an expatriate, a citizen of the world. There will be the occasional frustration, but all in all, you are generally happy and at ease in your new life.

Where are you in the expat journey?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The European Union at its best

As a little Sunday night lecture, I thought I'd share this slide I came across, hoping it will put a smile on your face just like it did on mine.

The European Union has 28 member countries, and much like snowflakes, they’re all special in their own way. Every country excels at something - and to that end, you'll discover one thing every EU nation is the best at... even if it's having the most experience working with robots.

Have a lovely week.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Children's cooking courses in Lugano

Looking to indulge in a sweet moment over the weekend? InCucina is offering a Cake Pop course for kids tomorrow.

Along with regular adult cooking classes InCucina offers sessions for children called: Cucina per bambini.

The chef Sonia Porta teaches the kids how to make Cake pops, sweets, but also savoury dishes! You'll discover many tasty ideas that can be made together resulting in fanciful finger food which is particularly appreciated by children.

Don't miss the next fun-filled cooking class:

Venue: Cucina per bambini (
Where: InCucina, Corso Elvezia/via Fusoni 2, 6900 Lugano
Date: Saturday, January 17th, 2015
Time: 10:00 - 13:00
Chef: Sonia Porta
Price: CHF 60.-

For more info contact: or call Tel. 091/922'22'74

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

What is the Expat Child Syndrome?

Many people ask me how my children react to our moving around the globe on a more or less regular bases. My fundamental belief is kids resound off their parents. They might not always feel the same way in a given moment but it is you - their parents - they trust and turn to for guidance in the end.

There is something called an Expat Child Syndrome:
Expat Child Syndrome is a term that has been coined by psychologists to describe an emotional stress in children caused by a move abroad.

What causes it?
ECS is most commonly found in children who are aged between 10 and 15. During this period of a child’s life they undergo significant emotional and physical changes and will often utilize their social circles as a mean of coping with these changes. Adolescence is a difficult period in the lives of all children, but when children are removed from their close circle of friends they can often find it even more difficult to deal with the mental and physical changes they are experiencing.

Teens are likely to need plenty of empathy and support even though they may not ask for it in an obvious way. Look out for rebelling and mood swings. These are signals that he or she needs help with the adjustment.

In order to avoid expat child syndrome occurring it is essential that parents carefully plan and implement the move abroad. Involve your kids in preparation and execution of the move according to their age, of course. Tell them it is OK to feel scared or worried or sad. Sometimes even happy or excited at the same time! Express your own feelings more explicitly but most of all talk individually and as a family: A LOT!

Keep open lines of communication throughout the emigration process. This is especially important during the settling-in phase where children will deal with unfamiliar people and surroundings, and will need plenty of positive support. Listen to your child, let them express their feelings, without necessarily coming up with solutions.

Remind yourself of the importance of having a proper farewell. Think of it as a gateway between the new life and the old. Hold a going away party, take lots of photographs and make your children feel as if they are on the cusp of a great experience. Get the children to plan their own goodbyes as well.

You are a team embarking on a new adventure. Celebrate the positive and don't forget the memories  as well as your friends that you will carry with you in your heart.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Three Kings' cake recipe

In Switzerland, the Three Kings cake is made ​​from sweet yeast dough​, which is formed into balls, arranged in a flower-shape and sprinkled with almonds and coarse sugar.

There are various types of Three Kings' cakes found throughout Switzerland. All have a white plastic king figure “hidden” inside. The person who finds this piece is then “King or Queen for the Day” meaning he or she gets to choose what to do during that day and also what chores to avoid. No washing dishes, no cleaning up, no cooking?!

The Three Kings' cake is one of the most popular traditions in Switzerland. At the Iowa AG alone, which is Migros' bakery wholesale distributor produced over 500'000 pieces in 2000. His rival Coop managed to sell over 250,000. This is without counting the hundred of thousands cakes sold in bakeries throughout the country.  The total sales amount to approx 1.5 million cakes every year. Now beat that. No other celebration is so widely spread across this tiny, multi-cultured country.

Most Swiss buy their Epiphany cake at the local bakery or supermarket.
However, home-made always tastes best. Following is an easy and fast recipe to make with your kids. And who knows, if you're lucky, you might not even have to do the washing up!!!

500gr flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons sugar
20gr (1/2 dice) fresh yeast, crumbled
60gr butter
1/2 lemon, grated rind
4 tablespoons raisins
3dl milk, warmed

1 egg, beaten
Sugar crysals, almond leaves

1.) Mix flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Add the rest of the ingredients and knead for about 10 minutes unti a smooth dough has formed.
2.) Cover dough and let rise for 2 hours until it has doubled in volume.
3.) Form 8 servings, each weighing approximately 80gr.
4.) Stick a king in one of the balls.
5.) Form the remaining dough into a large ball and place on a baking sheet lined tray with the smaller balls distributed evenly around it.
6.) Let stand for covered for another 30 minutes at room temperature to rise.
7.) Brush with egg.
8.) Bake for approx. 30 minutes in the bottom half of the pre-heated 180° C oven. Cool on a wire rack and then decorate!

The “Swiss Way” to eat the "Torta dei Re Magi" is with a good cheese selection, or butter, jam and hot chocolate at breakfast, lunch OR supper time!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Who is La Befana?

"Ninnaò, ninnaò,
questo bimbo a chi lo do
se lo do alla Befana
se lo tiene una settimana
se lo do all'Uomo Nero
se lo tiene un anno intero
ma se il bimbo fa la nanna
se lo tiene la sua mamma"

The English translation is:

"Ninnaò, ninnaò,
who will I give this child to
if I give it to the Befana
she will keep him one whole week
if I give it to the Bogey Man
he will keep him one whole year
but if the child goes to sleep
then his mother will him keep"

Depending in which country you live, tomorrow you'll be celebrating Epifany (the day immediately following the twelve days of Christmas), La Befana or Los Reyes Magos.

Particularly in the Spanish-speaking parts of the world the three kings (Los Reyes Magos) receive wish letters from children and magically bring them gifts on the night before Epiphany. In Spain each one of the Magi is supposed to represent one different continent, Europe (Melchior), Asia (Caspar) and Africa (Balthasar). Almost every Spanish city or town organize cabalgatas in the evening, in which the kings and their servants parade and throw sweets to the children (and parents) in attendance.

In Ticino the children await the Befana, an old woman who delivers gifts to children throughout Italy and Ticino on Epiphany Eve.

Christian legend had it that Befana was approached by the biblical magi, also known as the Three Wise Men (or the three kings) a few days before the birth of the Infant Jesus. They asked for directions to where the Son of God was, as they had seen his star in the sky, but she did not know. She provided them with shelter for a night, as she was considered the best housekeeper in the village, with the most pleasant home. The magi invited her to join them on the journey to find the baby Jesus, but she declined, stating she was too busy with her housework. Later, La Befana had a change of heart, and tried to search out the astrologers and Jesus. That night she was not able to find them, so to this day, La Befana is searching for the little baby.

Now La Befana flies around on her broomstick each year on the 11th night, bringing gifts to children in hopes that she might find the Baby Jesus. Children hang their stockings on the evening of January 5 awaiting the visit of La Befana. She leaves all the good children toys and candy (“caramelle”) or fruit, while the bad children get coal (“carbone”). Traditionally, all Italian children may expect to find a lump of "carbone" (actually rock candy made black with caramel coloring) amongst the candy in their stockings, as every child has been at least occasionally bad during the year.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Happy New Year

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