Friday, January 31, 2020

A Swiss take on today's event...

The UK's 47 years of membership in the European Union officially end at midnight on January 31, 2020. The European Union’s 27 remaining member nations signed off on Britain's departure in a typically low-key and bureaucratic style.

At the end of 2015 (latest available data) there were 41,766 British citizens living in Switzerland (out of some 1.3 million in Europe), and 34,000 Swiss living in the UK.

Following is a link to the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affaires covering Frequently Asked Questions in regards to Brexit: FDFA - Brexit FAQ

Last year, the Swiss came up with their own farewell video... here's wishing for an Au Revoir rather than an Adieu!

Thursday, January 30, 2020

January 30th is Croissant Day!

Now here is a random fact: today is National Croissant Day in the US. Not even the French have a day to celebrate this truly iconic French product!!!

French bakery-pastry is increasingly popular all over the world, and the croissant is one of the stars.
Between 2012 and 2017 the turnover for the industry has increased twofold to reach 2 billion Euros. According to a February 2019 survey by Echos Etudes ‘made in France’ plays a major role in this market growth.

Contrary to popular belief, however, croissants are not French in origin. Food historians believe that the Austrian kipferl is the ancestor of the present-day croissant. Legend has it that kipeferl, which is the German word for crescent, was created by some Viennese bakers as a way to celebrate the defeat of Ottoman invaders by the soldiers of Vienna. The bakers according to the story, fashioned their new creation in the form of the crescent they saw on the enemies flag.

It is thought that the pastry was popularized in France by Marie Antionette, the last queen of France.

In the US the success of croissants is undeniable. Imported in the 1980s by the famous American brand Sara Lee, the crescent-shaped pastry has become a cult product. Its popularity is still strong and growing in America: in 2018, 138 million consumers enjoyed croissants and the figure should reach 142 million in 2020, according to polling institute The Statistical Portal.

So, did you have your croissant for breakfast this morning?

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Raviöö and Turtei

Carnevale is definitely the best-known festivity celebrated in the winter period. In Ticino some would argue Carnevale is just as important as the celebration of the Christmas festivities. There are processions in mask, bingo games, greasy poles, jokes, confetti, and it goes without saying, an abundance of food.

In occasion of the Carnival, eating in abundance was mandatory: the term stems from "carne levare" (take away meat), which refers to the fasting period or Lent, which starts on the Ash Wednesday, the first day following Mardi Gras, which closes the Roman Carnival.

The typical items of this winter celebration are luganighe (pork sausages), risotto, polenta, and chiacchiere (fritters). But have you ever heard of raviöö da San Provin (San Provino sweet ravioli) or turtei da San Giüsèpp (San Giuseppe tortelli)? These are sweets cooked in a generous amounts of oil, butter or lard and are eaten in February/March (March 19th is San Giuseppe) on festive occasions, both in Tesserete and Sorengo and in many other region of Ticino. Let us know how you like them.

Friday, January 24, 2020

International Day of Education

Today the world celebrates the International Day of Education, a day proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly to honour education and its centrality to human well-being and sustainable development.

The adoption of the "International Day of Education" in 2018, co-authored by Nigeria and 58 other Member States, demonstrated the unwavering political will to support transformative actions for inclusive, equitable and quality education for all.

Today, 258 million children and youth still do not attend school; 617 million children and adolescents cannot read and do basic math; less than 40% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa complete lower secondary school and some four million children and youth refugees are out of school. Their right to education is being violated and it is unacceptable.

The 2020 celebration positions education and the learning it enables as humanity’s greatest renewable resource and reaffirms the role of education as a fundamental right and a public good. It celebrates the many ways learning can empower people, preserve the planet, build shared prosperity and foster peace.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Carnevale is coming to Ticino...

Bellinzona's carnival is Ticino's most famous celebration. Following the Roman-rite, the party starts on Thursday night (Feb 20th) when the keys of the city are handed over to King Rabadan, who will rule the happy crowds until the following Tuesday.

But not only Rabadan: many more carnivals are warming up the cold winter days in the Canton starting as early as mid-January. In Locarno, the "Stranociada" is an appointment not to be missed on Friday night (Feb 21st), where the old town is invaded by masks, little tents, Guggen, music and pure fun until early in the morning.

The Nebiopoli Carnival in Chiasso is the most important Roman-rite carnival in the Sottoceneri region, and its peculiarity is the absence of a king: in fact, the hand-over of power during the carnival goes to a Prime Minister, who transforms the town into the "Free Republic of Nebiopoli"'. From Thursday, Feb 6th to Sunday, Feb 9th masked groups and Guggen transform the streets of the centre into a place of all-round fun. Don't miss the children's parade, the Guggen night parade and the 60th masked parade, which takes place for the first time on Saturday and in which many floats, groups, bands and Guggen participate.

In many different locations throughout the Canton, celebrations take place only at the end of the Carnival week, following the Ambrosian rite. Biasca, Brissago and Tesserete can pride themselves with some of the busiest Carnivals, with their Saturday parades featuring masked groups, floats and Guggen. The large masked parties in public spaces all over the town centres start on Thursday night, with games, risotto for everybody, many confetti and bands performing live music.

A wild world of colours, masks and sounds is not to be missed so download the list of Ticino's carnevals here and mark your agendas.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Time to register for US citizens - Vote from Abroad

Calling all American citizens – it's time to register!

Franklin University's Office of Student Life and Vote From Abroad will be coordinating a voter registration drive for American citizens this coming Monday.

In order to vote in primaries in the spring or in the general election in November, voters must register in the same calendar year as the election in which they would like to vote. It only takes a few minutes, so stop by and register to vote!

Please bring your US Passport and your last address in the US – even if it was decades ago.
If you've never lived in the States, your voting address is the last place your parent lived in the US.

Friendly and knowledgeable registration assistants will be on hand to help and answer your questions. However, if you aren't available to stop by Franklin University on January 20th, you can also register online by visiting

And remember, even if you're already registered, you'll still need to submit your FPCA (Federal post card application) to receive an absentee ballot.

Venue: US Voter Registration Drive
Where: Franklin University Switzerland
Date: Monday, January 20, 2020
Time: 13.30 – 16.00 in the Lowerre Academic Center Lobby, North Campus (parking is limited)
and from 17:00-19:00 at Ben's Den, Kaletsch Campus, (entrance Via Paradiso across from Tamoil)

Thursday, January 16, 2020

How connected is the world?

Who knows how connected the world is? According to a study conducted by the social media management tool Hootsuite, at the start of 2019 there was signifcant disparity when it comes to internet access across the globe.

While in Switzerland over 93% of households have a high-speed fixed internet connection, this is far from the case in the majority of countries around the world. A brief overview of the European and global situation.

In Europe, 86% of households are online. The Scandinavian countries are top of the class with rates close to 95-96%. Unsurprisingly, the US are close competitors of the hyperconnected European countries.

But what about emerging countries? Russia, with a connectivity rate of 76%, comes out with the best rate amongst these countries, ahead of Brazil (70%), South Africa (54%) and India (46%). Thailand, a country where a large number of Swiss Abroad live and that is frequently visited by Swiss tourists, provides 82% of its population with internet access.

The countries with the lowest rates are in Africa, more specifically in central Africa, where only 12% of the population are able to get online.

So, despite controversy around privacy, hacking, fake news and all the other negative aspects of online life, the world continues to embrace the internet and social media. Global digital growth shows no sign of slowing, with a million new people around the world coming online every day.

45% of the world’s population are now social media users: a whopping 3.5 billion people.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Modelling Swiss history

Castles, churches, buildings, Swissair planes, railways, Rhine ships and paddle steamers have been assembled ten thousand times. Over 22 million landmarks and vehicles have been thus created from 1919 to 2019. This impressive total shows that modelling is a part of Switzerland’s cultural heritage.

The most popular construction site has always been the classroom. I have sweet memories of ordering the "Modelbögen" at school in the 1970s!

There is a reason why the words “modelling” and “school” go together. The pioneers of Swiss modelling adopted a distinctly educational approach according to the writings of Edwin Morf, one of the founding fathers of Swiss modelling, in 1933: “When the evenings draw in, anyone who has children to look after asks themselves the following question: how can we keep the young ones entertained in a constructive way, especially the boys with all their energy?” Morf came to the conclusion that reading was not enough: “Young people also learn by using their hands and working with tools.”

Although only a few thousand models per year were sold initially, sales climbed to over 400,000 a year on average between 1975 and 2015. This golden age was mainly due to the educational consensus that modelling brought lasting educational benefits. However, many teachers now see less scope for incorporating 3D cardboard modelling in today’s rapidly changing curriculum. That also means: the future of this cultural pastime is uncertain as sales are falling.

Step into the past and share the experience with your little ones: modellbogen.

Typical Farmhouse from Canton Zürich

Monday, January 13, 2020

Gap Year in Switzerland

What to do after finishing compulsory education or high school? Many young people ponder questions of going to university, enrolling in vocational training or looking for a job once they have left school. Making the right choice is not always easy, which is why gap years in Switzerland could be an option.

educationsuisse advices and supports, both young Swiss abroad in addition to students from Swiss Schools abroad, who wish to pursue or complete their education or training in Switzerland.

Bridge-year courses: used to be referred to as the “tenth school year”. They are run by the cantons and can vary considerably in nature. On average, a bridge-year programme will last six to 12 months. Many help to fill gaps in schooling or provide guidance on choosing a profession. This will often include helping people to find apprenticeships.
Voluntary work: in return for doing voluntary work, you will receive free board/lodging and possibly a small amount of pocket money. Many volunteers like to work on farms. Agriviva is a body that organises agricultural placements for some 1,500 young volunteers from around the world each year. Swiss Abroad also take advantage of these opportunities.
Internships: provide an in-depth insight into the world of work. From hospitality and healthcare, to media and construction – almost all professions offer work placements. Most of these are advertised on various online platforms. When applying for an internship, you must provide a CV, cover letter and references – just like you would if you were applying for a permanent job. Interns are treated as employees and usually receive a small wage.
Movetia offers a language assistantship programme that allows students from abroad to gain initial work experience by helping out for a year as a language assistant at an upper secondary school or vocational school.
Au pair: working as an au pair for a family with children can be an interesting experience for young men and women alike. Although the remuneration is nothing to write home about, you not only receive free board and lodging but are also given enough spare time to attend language courses and get to know Switzerland better.

Information sheets on the relevant options are available to order free of charge from educationsuisse by email at

Sunday, January 12, 2020

An excuse to pop over the border for a little Swissness

Visiting Expat Boy and his housemates is always a pleasure. Their friendship forged during the first year at uni and now a soft-spoken Brazilian, an audacious Bulgarian, a self-confident Luxembourger and my diplomatic son are sharing a rather cool abode in the Swiss countryside. They might have a TV in the kitchen, however, they are not protected from water leaks... gosh, this is just like Paris... encore une fuite d'eau?!?

So what, if the wallpaper is coming apart, 
some improvised deco will do the trick to cover the water leak.

A little jog through the Swiss country side is always a good idea. After all, I cannot spend the entire day cooking and cleaning for the boys! ;)

A true Swiss invention: the Vita Parcours. A fitness trail/path through the woods with outdoor exercise equipment or obstacles installed along its length for exercising and promoting good health. Invented in 1968 by Swiss architect Erwin Weckemann with support from Swiss life insurance firm Vita.

The latest Swiss phenomena: little free libraries built in garden sheds or old telephone booths. A cabinet which may be freely and anonymously used for the exchange and storage of books without the formalities associated with libraries.

Welcome to the insect hotel! Also known as a bug hotel or insect house, is a manmade structure created to provide shelter for insects. It consist of several different sections that provide insects with nesting facilities – particularly during winter, offering shelter or refuge. Their purposes include hosting pollinators.

I can smell the cows!!!

What a wonderful Swiss scene. Unfortunately these kind of barns are dwindling in numbers as modern construction along with technology takes over.

Nothing beats a Swiss Birchermüesli with berries and a banana smoothie for breakfast!

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Swiss Snow report at your fingertips

Whether you picture the glamour of St. Moritz or the dazzling vision of the Matterhorn towering above Zermatt's classic chalets, every skier has dreams of hitting the slopes as soon as the snowy peaks are visible at the horizon.

Not everyone skis like James Bond (and we all know Roger Moore did not shoot those scenes himself), and the majestic Swiss mountains are not just for experts, most have dedicated slopes and lifts just for learners and beginners.

Following are 250 Swiss ski resorts at a glance, fun parks, cross-country trails, ski and snowboard slopes. This snow report is updated daily with actual snow conditions and slope reports.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Travel Admin App

An unforgettable trip starts with being well prepared. Travel Admin is the new app developed by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) to replace the itineris app.

The Travel Admin app meets your needs with a simple layout and a fresh, appealing design. In addition to the integrated trip registration, you can update your current location at the touch of a button, so the FDFA can contact you more easily if there is an emergency situation at your destination. In the event of a crisis in your destination country, the FDFA will notify you by SMS. At the push of a button, you can send everyone in your contacts list a message to reassure them that you're OK or inform the FDFA of your current location.

The app allows you to search and display on a map all Swiss representations abroad that provide services to Swiss citizens. You can create and manage your own travel checklists by attaching copies of important travel documents like your passport and insurance policies to the checklists. You can also consult the FDFA’s Travel Advice.

Download the App from the Apple and Google app stores. Bon voyage!

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