Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Go beyond your Expat comfort zone

With any walk of life, everyday routines sometimes get a bit too comfortable.  Although nobody really likes to admit it, people can find themselves stuck in a bit of a rut.  This applies to expats as well.  Feeling comfortable is great, but being too settled could stop you from making the most of your expat adventure.

It’s important to keep things fresh to continue making the most out of your expat experience.  If you can relate to some of these expat-in-a-rut symptoms, here are some suggestions to keep things interesting!

Symptom: Expat complacency
Did you move with a long list of things you wanted to tick off – be that sightseeing, trying particular street foods, or visiting galleries or museums, but find you haven’t done that much?  Unlike visiting somewhere on holiday, being an expat means there is no time limit on your stay, and it’s easy to forget about the typical ‘tourist’ activities you initially wanted to do.

Expat remedy: Be a tourist once a week – pretend you only have a week left in your host country, and tick off that bucket list!

Symptom: Unvaried expat diet
Indulging in local cuisine is by far one of the greatest perks of expat life, and by now you will probably have expert knowledge of where to get the best street food, the best coffee and other local delicacies. But inevitably, this also means that expats can end up sticking to the same old favourite dish.

Expat remedy: Take a trip to some local food markets, buy some ingredients you haven’t used before!  Host a dinner party for new friends, and show case your culinary skills.

Symptom:  Over-settled expats
Getting to know your local area is great and it’s fantastic to feel like you are really ‘at home’ somewhere new.  However, don’t forget that a short drive, train or bus journey away, there are new places ripe for exploration!

Expat remedy: If you haven’t left your local area for a while, reserve one weekend a month for a road trip to get to know your neighbouring cities or villages.

Symptom: Unadventurous expats
The prospect of becoming an expat is both exciting and daunting at the same time, and often comes with visions of an adventure-filled future.  However, after being settled in a place for a while, the element of adventure can start to dwindle.

Expat remedy: To reinstate that feeling of excitement, how about becoming an adrenaline junkie for the day? Do something that scares you, be that finding some adventure sports facilities in your local area, or joining up to a new club by yourself.

Symptom: In an expat bubble
If you’ve made a good circle of friends since moving, that’s fantastic, and an important aspect of feeling settled.  But this isn’t to say you should try and stop making new friends.

Expat remedy: Set yourself a target of speaking to one new person every week – be that another expat, or a local.  You’ll be surprised how quickly you pick up hints and tips about local life where you are, and perhaps some new friends as well.

So, go ahead and step out of your comfort zone! It's not always easy but it's worth it.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Follow Ticino's yellow hiking signs

Do you enjoy hiking? Looking for company with the same passion? Then TI Sentieri, Ticino's hiking association has an answer. Their mission is setting up and constantly updating the cantonal hiking trails, while improving the information mapping. They also organize guided excursions and train guides. You'll recognise their efforts when you spot the yellow hiking signs.

Their next guided tour leads to the source of the Brenno river near Lucomagno. It is an all day hike departing at 8:45 from Alpe Casaccia and returning there around 17:00.

All you need is a good pair of hiking shoes, appropriate all-weather gear, a bottle of water and a snack and you are set. Cost: CHF 20.-

Venue: Hike to the source of River Brenno
Where: Alpe Casaccia near Blenio
Date: Wednesday, August 26th, 2015
Time: 8:45
For more info call: Mr Hess at 079/760'26'23 and register today.
For a detailed programme click here:

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Radio Fiume Ticino Summer Tour 2015

Radio Fiume Ticino is one of the two local radio stations broadcasting live from Locarno, Switzerland, which focuses on Dance Pop hits. Throughout the summer they have been setting up shop in various lidos and pools.

Radio Fiume will be at the Lido di Lugano on Monday, August 24, 2015 to keep you company and to spend a nice afternoon together. The team will be broadcasting live. Imagine hanging out with friends, lots of laughter, entertainment and music, so what if there might be a few drops of rain?

For some time Radio Fiume Ticino has also stuck a collaboration with Lugano's Hockey Club, so you are bound to bump into some players of the team promoting the new season ticket campaign, taking pictures and signing autographs.

In case of very bad weather the event will be postponed to August 26th, 2015. Check with the Lido directly at 058 866 68 80.

Venue: Radio Fiume Ticino Summer Tour
Where: Lido di Lugano, Viale Castagnola 1, 6900 Lugano, Suiza
Date: Monday, August 24th, 2015
Time: 14:00 to 18:00

Friday, August 21, 2015

Unusual world record set in Valle Maggia

Surrounded by the beautiful scenery of Valle Maggia, a 27-year old Brazilian who grew up in Switzerland has set a new world record this month. Laso Schaller is a man without fear. He proved this by jumping off the top of the "Cascata del Salto", a waterfall gushing to life with summer rains located in the depths of the Maggia valley where water comes cascading down over a sheer drop into a deep pool, creating a stunning natural amphitheatre.

Passionate canyoneer and high-diver he performed a breathtaking dive of 58.8m over the picturesque waterfall. A spectacular, extraordinary and unique flying stunt.

See for yourself:

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Random Acts of Kindness

Soon it will be back to school... summer is over and - have you heard - the first snowflakes have already fallen in the North of Ticino.

To start the school year off on a positive note, I thought I'd share a checklist of Random Acts of Kindness that I found and see how many of these acts of kindness I can perform before school starts. Feel like seeing how many you can do? You can also add your own! Remember, kindness is contagious - spread some today!

Go out of your way to thank someone today.
Hold the door open for someone.
Add a kind note to someone’s windshield or front door.
Let a person with only one or two items go in line before you at the grocery.
Say thank you to a janitor or custodian.
Collect all your loose coins and donate to charity.
Bring a crossing guard a cup of coffee or a croissant.
Give a friend a book that you like.
Leave inspirational notes around the house or in your friend's room.
Write five things you like about yourself.
Send or text an old photo to a friend just to make them smile.
Bring a bouquet of flowers to the hospital.
Give someone a hug.
Say thank you to a police officer.
When you get a new piece of clothing, donate an old piece.
Purchase an extra bag of dog/cat food & bring it to a local shelter .
Give up your seat.
When everyone else is gossiping, be the one to butt in with something nice.
Email/write an old teacher who had a big influence in your life.
When you go to get something for yourself in the kitchen, get some for the rest of your family.
Treat a friend to a movie.
Feed the birds.
Help an elderly neighbor .
Make dinner for a busy family.
Donate used books.
Write and mail a handwritten letter to a friend.
Bake some cookies and bring them to your neighbor or to school.
Pick up litter.
Leave a nice server the biggest tip you can afford.
Invite someone who is alone over for dinner.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Gone on holidays

Thursday, August 6, 2015

What is a Swiss Pass?

Over 2'300'000 Swiss residents own a Half-Fare travel card that lets them travel half price on all Swiss train (SBB) routes and most other railways as well as on boats, buses and trams.

With the launch of the SwissPass, SBB are taking the first step in a new era of travel on public transport and personal mobility. The SwissPass is more than just a Half-Fare travelcard as it offers  access to partner services from Mobility Carsharing, PubliBike, SwissMobile and in the ski areas.

Since 1 August 2015 your Half-Fare travelcard has been included on the SwissPass. Your SwissPass is a plastic card – just like your previous travelcards. However, what is different is that this one is equipped with two electronic RFID chips – technology that is already being used for ski passes, for example. Your personal SwissPass number is saved on these chips, and this is used to check your name and travel card. It is the key to your mobility. So check it out and Bon Voyage!

Monday, August 3, 2015

What Americans think of Rivella

A few weeks back I posted a video about what Italians think of American candy. Well, right in time for August 1st my son sent me a video about what Americans think of his favourite Swiss drink Rivella. The reactions - in this video gone viral - to discovering what Rivella is actually made of will have you giggling. Let's just say it is an acquired taste as is the taste for American candy!

Happy Swiss National Day!
Posted by BuzzFeed on Saturday, 1 August 2015

Saturday, August 1, 2015

National Day 2015 greetings for the Swiss abroad

It has become kind of a tradition of mine to post the "President"'s address to the Swiss abroad otherwise known as the 1.August Speech on my blog.

President of the Swiss Confederation, Simonetta Sommaruga, will give the Swiss National Day commemorative speech on the Rütli on 1 August.

The tranquil site on the southern finger of Lake Lucerne the locals call Lake Uri is nicknamed the "Cradle of the Confederation". Legend associates the meadow in the heart of Switzerland with the alliance of the three founding cantons in 1291. In 1804 the dramatist Friedrich Schiller then combined the myth of William Tell with the Rütli. And in 1860 the Swiss Society for the Public Good purchased the meadow and gave it to the Swiss confederation as an "inalienable national asset".

Should you decide to make a day's excursion out of it, here is the Rütli programme: otherwise you'll find Mrs Sommaruga's speech to the Swiss community abroad below:

Dear fellow Swiss around the world,

Today we all live in a globalised world. As Swiss living abroad, you know particularly well the meaning of globalisation.

Some of you will say: ‘Switzerland is and remains my home’. Others might say: ‘I have two homes – the country in which I live, and my country of origin, Switzerland’.

What is clear is that everyone needs a home. And by that I mean a feeling of having roots, having an identity.

In Switzerland, there is currently a heated debate about this identity. Some people claim Switzerland stands for independence, sovereignty and going it alone in Europe.

For others, Switzerland is – and always has been – an open country connected to the rest of the world through clever alliances.

Dear fellow Swiss, Switzerland is not the only country facing these issues. Globalisation means change, and changes always raise questions and launch debates.

There is, however, one aspect on which almost all Swiss agree: our direct democracy is a unique political system – and we all identify with it.

I am proud to be president of the country whose citizens have the most political power and responsibility in the world. Direct democracy is a courageous system – and that is one of the reasons why I like it and why it fascinates me.

The results of votes are often very close. The reform of the television and radio law was approved in June by a margin of only around 3,000 votes. The Swiss media wrote that the Swiss abroad had made the difference.

And yet many citizens do not bother voting because they think their vote would not make a difference. How wrong this is was shown a few weeks ago by another vote – about car park fees – in a commune in central Switzerland. There were one thousand and sixty Yes votes. And the No votes?
One thousand and sixty-one...

So in Switzerland every vote really does count.
Dear fellow Swiss, your votes count too. Today, only a quarter of Swiss who live abroad are registered to vote in Switzerland. It would make me happy to see this figure increase over the coming weeks. After all, federal elections will be held in October. If you haven’t already registered to vote, you can do so in your embassy until mid- August.

What’s more, for many of you, votes and elections will in future be easier. This year, for the first time, a majority of cantons are offering electronic voting for Swiss who live abroad. So you can see that we are committed to enabling you to take part and exercise your responsibility.

Dear fellow Swiss, I send you warmest greetings from the cabinet and wish you a wonderful August the 1st – wherever you are in the world.
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