• 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

    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.

  • Social Media

    Social Benefits of The Internet – LondonCyber Conference

    Do you remember the years before the internet? When we had to look up telephone books and encyclopaedias for information. When we used maps – real proper paper maps – to find the way to a friend’s house. When we had to estimate how long it would take us to get there, and look up bus timetables that were kept in a box under the stairs? If I were to tell my 9 year old daughter that I used to have to limit my phone calls to my parents in Scotland to once a week, as the international phone calls were so expensive, she would likely ask why we didn’t…

  • 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

    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

    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…

  • Feminism

    Life as a Feminist Trailing Spouse

    The term “Trailing Spouse” may not be one that you are familiar with, unless you are a fellow expat wife. It is used to refer to the partners of those who move abroad for work. In most cases, we are women, although there are some men out there. I first heard of the term when we were planning our move to Geneva. An email from a colleague of my husband referred to his Trailing Spouse; you can imagine my reaction. When I told a friend about this, she asked if I were planning to wear Laura Ashley dresses and waft about, chiffon scarves floating in my wake. Or perhaps become…

  • Geneva,  Switzerland

    Schools in Geneva

    One of the most important issues when expats move to a new country is schooling. You can out up with a less than stunning kitchen (and you often have to here) or a slightly boring social life but if your children are unhappy in school then the assignment will be a short one. Or of course if you are unhappy with the school. When we moved to Geneva we faced the decision – local schools or international/bilingual schools. Cost was not a factor, as my husband’s company would pay for private schooling for the duration of our stay in Switzerland. Our children were still quite young, just 4 years and…

  • 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…