Thursday, February 28, 2019

Ready for Rabadan?

Carnival time is upon us already. A centuries-old tradition, carnival (known as "Fasnacht" in German, "Carnaval" in French and "Carnevale" in Italian) is celebrated every year in the days leading up to Ash Wednesday, which falls on March 6th this year.

Carnival is traditionally a chance to indulge and make merry before the lean times of Lent. And while the religious significance of the festival may have diminished with time, a spirit of indulgence remains very much the order of the day with eating, drinking and partying all high on the agenda. The pounding drums of traditional ‘Guggenmusik’ bands, the elaborate costumes and the confetti-strewn parades are all part of a strong Swiss tradition albeit hardly known abroad.

Known as Rabadan (which means "noise"), Bellinzona’s carnival is the most important in the Italian-speaking canton. It all gets underway this year today when the keys of the city are handed over to "King Rabadan", who is chosen by the carnival committee to rule over the city's revellers until Tuesday March 5th.

As well as the traditional Guggenmusik, parades and children's festivities, there are also DJ sets, concerts, aperitif events and even a mass risotto-eating session on the Tuesday. Keep in mind that if you can't make it to Bellinzona, there are plenty of smaller local carnivals all over the canton which are also worth a visit.

Click here for Ramadan programme:
Click here for the Ticino Carnevale calendar: Carnevale in Ticino 2019

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Touching the sky...

It has been a glorious week for skiing. Lots of snow, cold overnight temperatures, blue skies during the day and not many tourists. This is karma, over the years you win a few you loose a few when it comes to good ski conditions. You know you are REALLY lucky when your half-term break falls onto the perfect week.

It's not too cold, not to hot, the fir trees are deep green, the birds tweeting, the mountain restaurants not overflowing with people, the slopes are perfectly prepared, the snow crunching below your skis, the magnificent summit panorama, each peak glistening in the sun and the view, oh those views are simply breathtaking! I am in seventh heaven...

Gstaad's slogan: Come up slow down!

Looking over onto the Valais mountain range

View from the top of the Videmanette

Rinderberg has a new little restaurant...

... great for a hot chocolate break

Hitting the slopes again

Off piste?!?

Even the chairlift ride is pretty

Another panoramic beauty

I just can't get enough of this view!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

A little village in the mountains

Rougemont is an unspoilt traditional village in the valley of the Pays d’Enhaut, built by monks of the Cluniac order in 1080, where people have been farming the land and practising traditional mountain crafts for centuries. Their quality of life is reflected in the superbly built wooden chalets, adorned with flowers, decorated with mottoes, dated and signed just like works of art. The love is in the detail!

Bienvenue: The local sports shop welcome

Chalet lounging

My absolute favourite chalet facade

Bits and pieces at the local brocante

Can't wait till this giant pot gets filled with red geraniums in spring

When old and simple is good

Beauty lies in the detail

A colourful neighbour saying hello

Off for a walk though the woods

Not a cloud in the sky

Monday, February 25, 2019

If wooden chalets could speak...

The village of Saanen is one of the most beautiful chalet villages in the Bernese Oberland. It owes its unique character to its narrow streets and lanes, lined with old timber houses. Saanen is listed amongst the townscapes of Switzerland most worthy of protection. Tradition, handicrafts and a rich history give Saanen its special charm.

Saanen's tourist office

Only in Switzerland

Timber-built houses and panelling in keeping with Saanen's style

Your local restaurant sign

Welcome to Saanenland

The wooden barn in the middle of the ski slope

Love Nest

When your mail box is a miniature of your chalet

New shutters to contrast the original wood panelling

Someone loves basketball

Even the ladders are stocked orderly

In pairs of three ... or not!?!

Wooden puzzle

When coming home includes greeting the eagle

Sunday, February 24, 2019

It's great to be ... skiing!

On top of the world... it is a glorious week to be skiing!

Saturday, February 16, 2019

A fun Birthday interview

I wish I had done more of these interviews with my kids when they were little...

Call me nostalgic but when your kids grow up and you stumble across questions like these, it invariably brings back fond memories. Sure, I could answer most of these questions but the fun is seeing the answers change as the kids get older.

Have you ever done a Birthday interview?

Friday, February 15, 2019

Movetia or how to promote exchange in education and training

Ever heard of Movetia? It is the National Agency for Exchange and Mobility.

They promote young people to take part in an extended exchange and mobility scheme at least once during the course of their education ensuring that exchange and mobility are firmly anchored in education policy.

They fund and support exchange & mobility projects as well as activities in education and training - in Switzerland and abroad - both in schools and in the extracurricular sphere. They link up organisations and institutions in the area of exchange and mobility to bring together providers of projects and activities, basically all those who are keen to get involved.

For example, in Swiss upper secondary schools, vocational education and training schools, native speakers enrich language lessons and exemplify cultural aspects of their country of origin. These language assistants, usually young students from abroad, are placed by the national agency Movetia in collaboration with educationsuisse.

This is how a Swiss Abroad from Canada found herself working  as a language assistant at the Kantonsschule Zug since September 2018.

Applications for language assistants for the school year 2019/20 are being accepted until the end of March 2019. For detailed information about the Language Assistance programme, kindly contact or

For the detailed info of all programmes click here:

Thursday, February 14, 2019

10 surprising facts about Valentine's Day

Love it or hate it, Valentine's Day is just around the corner. Whether you're single or coupled up, chances are you have a thing or two to learn about love.

Here are ten of the most surprising facts about this holiday:

1.) Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14 each year. It is celebrated in many countries around the world, although it remains a working day in most of them. It is the second most celebrated holiday around the world (after New Year’s Day).

2.) Malaysia, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Pakistan have banned Valentine’s Day! Celebrating Valentine's Day with flowers, chocolates or a glass of wine could result in severe punishment.

3.) In Japan, women give chocolates to their boyfriends, male friends and co-workers on Valentine's Day. Men return the favor on March 14, known as White Day, by handing out white chocolates, lingerie and jewelry to their female friends and loved ones.

4.) One day isn’t enough for the Argentineans. They take a week to celebrate Valentine’s Day and in addition to February 14 they also set aside seven days in July for “sweetness week”!

5.) Valentine’s Day is not the most popular holiday for greeting cards. Christmas is more popular.

6.) Teachers receive the most Valentine’s Day cards.

7.) Nearly three quarters of men will buy flowers on Valentine’s Day.

8.) Pets can be your Valentine too. About 3 percent of pet owners will give Valentine's Day gifts to their pets.

9.) Women buy most of the Valentine’s gifts – even the ones for themselves!

10.) The most fantastic gift of love is the Taj Mahal in India. It was built by Mughal Emperor Shahjahan as a memorial to his wife.

So… What will your gift be? HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Three things relocating spouses look for

According to the recently published Expat Insider 2018 Business Edition, with 18,135 respondents, relocating spouses don’t only need more support in general, but they also require rather specific types of assistance when moving abroad

1.) Access to Local Networking Opportunities
Only 12% of relocating spouses were offered access to networking as part of their relocation support, with 68% stating they would have liked to receive this. While there was no major difference in the percentage of relocating spouses receiving access to networking opportunities compared to foreign assignees and international hires, there was a disparity between the expat types when it came to those who desired such support. The difference in relocating spouses indicating a desire for networking opportunities was close to ten percentage points more than the other two expat types. One Russian female relocating spouse living in Germany said: “There are no networking opportunities and it feels like social isolation”.

2.) Membership In An Expat Organization
Only 8% of relocating spouses received membership in an expat organization as part of their relocation support, with 67% stating they didn’t receive it but would have liked it. While foreign assignees and international hires had the same percentage of respondents receiving this type of support (8%), relocating spouses had a higher percentage than both the other expat types indicating a desire for this. A British female relocating spouse living in Kazakhstan said she found it “hard to find out what is happening in the city”.

3.) Access to Local Socializing Opportunities
A large percentage of relocating spouses (65%) also indicated that they would have liked to receive access to socializing opportunities. Only 20% actually received this type of support. In comparison with the other two expat types, relocating spouses again indicated a stronger need for this type of support. One German female relocating spouse living in Sweden said: “It’s difficult to socialize and make friends”.

What Do These Types of Relocation Support Have in Common?
The need for interaction and engagement with other people. Relocating spouses that participated in the survey were generally at home either taking care of their households and children, or looking for work, therefore, a large share (44%) devote most of their time and attention to their families. This may be a reason why there’s such a strong desire to interact, engage and be supported by others — an important point for employers to ponder when offering spouse support.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Expat wives in Switzerland

A little sense of humour always helps!

Monday, February 4, 2019

The typical Expat woman

Is there a typical Expat woman? Of course, there isn't but if you take all the findings of Internations' latest survey this is what you get:

1.) In terms of age group, the average expat woman is most likely to be thirty-something — with 31%, women between 31 and 40.
2.) When it comes to the typical countries of origin, the top five nationalities among expat women are very similar to the worldwide average: female expats from the US, the UK, Germany, France, and Canada make up 39% of all women participating in the survey.
3.) Women’s current top five countries of residence are Germany, the US, the UK, Spain, and Switzerland — these are destinations preferred by all respondents regardless of gender.
4.) Women most often give one of the following reasons for moving abroad: their partner’s job or education (16%), the wish to live in their partner’s home country (12%), as well as finding a new job on their own (11%).
5.) Before actually moving, expat women tend to see these factors as a particular benefit: general living standards in their host country (63%), personal safety (51%), as well as language (44%). Indeed, more than one in four women (27%) speak the local language of their destination fluently.
6.) Those women who do have a significant other are just as likely as male expats to be in an intercultural relationship: nearly three in five (57%) are in a relationship with someone from another country.
7.) There’s one thing both genders have in common when it comes to romance: men and women alike are satisfied with their relationship — 84% and 85%, respectively, judge this aspect of their life positively.
8.) More than one in four women (27%) are currently raising children abroad.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Expat spouses challenges

In global transfers, the spouse has the most difficult role of any family member. Where as employees have the organization and job structure that continue from the home to the new country, and children have the continuity and routine of school, spouses often leave behind many of the most important aspects of their lives, including friends, relatives and meaningful activities ... the challenges of adjusting successfully are therefore both different and greater.

84% of expat 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

Expat spouse’s "lived experience" during an international assignment is frequently exacerbated by the loss of a career, social networks, extended family support, and financial independence, as well as unemployment, all of which require adjustment to new family roles and responsibilities along with shifts in relationship dynamics within the family unit.

The ultimate solution for expat spouses to thrive in relocation lies in 3 keywords: preparation, training and personal development. The amazing power of Internet and virtual careers to help spouses develop their own source of accomplishment is not to be underestimated. Internet is a major facilitator that expat partners didn't have in the 80s, when the topic of "trailing spouses" emerged. Whether it be entrepreneurial or volunteerism, today we have more opportunities than ever and we have to seize them.

Using internet and email (91%), socializing with expatriates (90%) and spending time with their spouse and children(81%) were the top three adjustment coping mechanisms. (Data: Sink or Swim)

So, which aspects of moving abroad do relocating spouses find the most challenging? What support do you need to overcome these challenges?

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