• Expat

    10 Tips on How to Love Expat Life

    When I was 19 years old, I left my homeland to live in a foreign country. For a year, I said, to work as an au-pair. Then I met my husband… on my very first day in Germany, but that’s a whole other story! 25 years later, I’m now back in the place where my adventure began, in a small town in Bavaria. In the intervening years, we’ve moved home 8 times, with four international moves and we’ve gathered a whole lot of experience. Here are my top tips on how to love expat life.

  • Expat

    What You Need to Know Before Moving Overseas

    ‘Steve and Mary from Nuneaton are following their dream, of buying and renovating a period property in rural France. The cottage we are showing them needs a bit of work, but we think that with a bit of updating, it could be stunning. Neither of them speak the language, but they came to this area on holiday last year, and fell in love with the natural beauty and the carefree lifestyle. Mary is an artist, and Steve is a graphic designer, and both hope to set up thriving home businesses in France.’ I quite like watching property shows, particularly A Place in the Sun, but usually spend the episode shouting, ‘NO! Don’t do it!’ at…

  • Expat

    The Ultimate Expat Family To-Do List

    Moving house is said to be one of the most stressful times of life. Moving overseas is even more stressful. Moving overseas with a family … let’s just say there will be tears, recriminations, doubts, regrets and the mother of all to-do lists. With the experience I’ve gained over the years, I’ve put together the ultimate expat family to-do list.

  • Expat,  Life

    Everything Will Be All Right In The End…

    … and if it is not all right, then it is not the end. This was one of the central themes in the film that I saw tonight – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – a story of a group of English OAPs who move to a retirement home in India only to find the luxurious idyll promised in the brochure does not quite match the reality. The group slowly find themselves warming to the hotel manager, the eternal optimist Sonny and the fascinating country in which they have chosen to live. Any film with a cast list that includes Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Dev Patel and many…

  • Expat

    The Secrets of Munich – Off The Tourist Trail

    It was a spontaneous decision. We were in Munich flat-hunting and were ready to head back to Geneva. “Shall we have lunch before we drive home?”, my husband asked. “Sure, why not. How about we have a look in Schwabing and see if a restaurant or café catches our eye?”.     Schwabing is the cool, happening place in Munich. The place where everyone wants to live, in one of the stately town houses, whose ground floors are home to designer boutiques, cafés, and bars. While the foreign tourists scour the city centre for souvenirs, and get squashed and deafened in the Hofbräuhaus, the locals sit it out in Schwabing…

  • Expat

    The Long Goodbye

    It has been several months now since we learned that we are leaving Geneva. Months in which we have slowly started saying goodbye to Switzerland. Is it perhaps a defence mechanism that we have started finding fault with our host country prior to leaving, or was it simply time to leave? I don’t know but the niggles are growing and I occasionally hear myself say, “Thank God we are leaving soon”. Which is a bit unfair to Switzerland as we have been very happy here.       The past months though have shown our limitations. The Swiss are not great at welcoming new people into their lives – which is understandable,…

  • Expat

    Welcome to 2012

    That will take some getting used to – 2012. Although if I am honest I find that it takes longer and longer to get used to the new year, perhaps because I don’t work at the moment so don’t write the date. Today is typically a day for taking stock, for thinking about what has gone before and what we want to change. I am not going to make any NY resolutions, but I did think that perhaps it would be a good time to review my Bucket List.   My Bucket List 1. Publish a novel 2.Do a patisserie course to learn how to make cakes. I can do…

  • Expat

    Au Revoir Suisse

    This was our last year in Switzerland. We have known for some time that we would be moving next year, and I must admit that I have put off blogging about it. Maybe in the hope that by not writing about it, it wouldn’t happen. Now that the moving date is set, I can no longer avoid the truth. The removal men will arrive the last week of February and pack up our belongings, which will initially go into storage until we find a house in our final destination. My husband is being moved to the Munich office, but the children and I are going to Scotland for a few…

  • Expat

    The Expat Adjustment Curve – And Why You Shouldn’t Go Home Just Yet

    Whether your plan is to relocate for a short time or long term, being prepared for physical and emotional upheaval makes the difference between a happy expat experience and a miserable one. The Expat Adjustment Curve helps you see where you are on your expat journey of discovery, and make the experience an enjoyable one. My husband’s company paid for Relocation Training before we moved to Switzerland, and while we inwardly wondered what the point of this was as Germany and Switzerland are not so dissimilar, it was actually very helpful. If you can, I would highly recommend that you do one of these courses. Basically, it is designed to…

  • Expat

    Buying from US iTunes Store

      *UPDATE* After the stories of children running up huge bills with in-app purchases, I thought I should mention that these instructions work equally well if you are looking to limit the purchases of a child on App Store – set up an account for the iPod or iPad and put money onto their account. They can only spend what is on the account, and so learn to budget their money. Also good for older kids, when relatives don’t know what to get them for Christmas or birthdays. You can buy iTunes vouchers in supermarkets or online.    Most expats come across this problem at some point. You want to…

  • Expat

    The Joys of Expat Life

    Ok, forgive me my self-indulgent and whiny post yesterday. The sun is shining in Geneva once more, my friend is on her way to a new adventure, who knows what the next year will bring both her and my families. There is change coming, and it cannot be stopped. Today, I am going to concentrate on the good sides, the sweet side of life. What I enjoy about living in Switzerland. In Geneva. Chocolate – this is a given. Switzerland has a lot of chocolatiers. Here in Geneva we can chose from Martel, Rohr, Auer and many others. We went to the chocolate festival in Versoix this spring to see how…

  • Expat

    Saying goodbye, au revoir, auf wiedersehen…

    No matter in which language you do this, it is a bitch. And if you are living the expat life, then it is something that you have to do occasionally. I have had acquaintances come and go but today was the first time I have said farewell to a true friend. And it hurts. So I did what I do when I hurt. I baked. I cried. I drank wine. And I sat down to write. While I pounded the dough for the pizza we shall eat later, I considered this side of expat life. The side that no one tells you about, when they extol the fantastic lifestyle, the mind-broadening…

  • Expat

    Happy Independence Day

    Happy 4th July! Today I am doing something that I have never done before. I am hosting a 4th July party. Actually, it is the first time that I have ever attended an Independence Day party so I am not quite sure what I am letting myself in for. As a Trailing Spouse, I meet a lot of women from other countries and cultures, many of them wives or girlfriends of my husband’s colleagues. Some of us meet once a month for a night out and this month we decided to have a BBQ to celebrate Independance Day. I fear I got off to rather a bad start when I…

  • Expat

    Cultural Faux Pas – Buffet Canadien and Himbeergeist

        … or as a good friend of ours once said, “I made a right pas faux”. Sometimes life as an expat is not so rosy. Sometimes we make mistakes and look really quite silly. Moving to a new country is fraught with social danger, there are so many unwritten rules ready to trip you up. Much to the amusement of the locals. When I was invited to party with “Buffet Canadien” during our first summer in Geneva, I was curious what would be served. Canadian buffet – would it be moose sandwiches and pancakes with maple syrup? I racked my brains to think of other Canadian specialities – were…

  • Expat

    Parlez vous Français?

    Un peu… …is generally my answer to that question. I should speak more than just a little, and if I am honest I do. But it frustrates me that over two years after arriving in Geneva, I am far from fluent. My children are trilingual – English, French, German and are handy as translators occasionally but I don’t always have them with me. It frustrates me that my French is so bad. I have noticed in recent weeks that people seem to think that I understand more than I do – possibly because I smile and nod a lot, and because I get the gist of the conversation so can…

  • Expat

    Happy Mothers Day – An Expat’s View

    It is, I think, the 20th Mothers Day that I have spent apart from my mother. Although she may well post a comment saying, “What about that time XX years ago when you happened to be in Scotland?”, and if she does, then I stand corrected. Life as an expat is great but there are times that we miss out. We expats miss celebrations such as birthdays, weddings, christenings and anniversaries but also on the chance to say goodbye when a loved one far away departs from this life. The friends and family are far from us, but only in actual kilometers. Not from our thoughts. So today, I am…

  • Expat

    You just can’t get orange cheese…

    An American friend was chatting to one of his countrymen, who said that they liked living in Geneva, but ‘You just can’t get orange cheese!’ Cheese capital of the world Switzerland does not sell orange cheese in a spray can. For expats this is one of the biggest gripes – that some favourite food stuffs are just not available in the host country. Which is why the American/British food stores thrive in Switzerland and elsewhere in Europe. It is the taste of home, the comfort food that we crave, no matter how good the food here is. I have been an expat for 18 years – it was my expat…

  • Expat

    Aufwiedersehen Deutschland, Bonjour Suisse!

    The Swiss adventures of our family began in September 2008 when we moved to a small village near Geneva. On 22nd September the removal lorry arrived and started to pack our worldly goods. As husband was away in Munich for the week so it was just me and the kids. We said our farewells in the school and kindergarten. Leaving the kindergarten was particularly hard as it has been such a large part of our lives for the past 3 years. The last two days in Germany were quite stressful, more than I thought they would be. We headed off to the airport for the flight to Geneva, I was…