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Integration in Switzerland – a difficult undertaking?

Integration in Switzerland – a difficult undertaking?

Recently the online platform InterNations published the latest survey of the “Ease of Settling In Index” (2017). This time Switzerland finished 61st out of 65, the fourth time in a row the country came very close to winning the wooden spoon. The reason: the Swiss are seen as needing to do better with their social interactions. A comment by Nicole J. Bettlé Surrounded by the Swiss, but mostly amongst themselves: that’s how many expats feel in Switzerland Once again the Expats Index survey has revealed the major social dissatisfaction among expats in Switzerland. But can you make friends by moaning

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Leave a Comment   |  16/10/2017 Columns, Uncategorized

The little differences (11): Time to eat – but when?

The little differences (11): Time to eat – but when?

Whether simply for nourishment or out of enjoyment – both locals and expats want to eat. What can vary, however, is who eats what meal and when. By Martin Pütter One scene made me laugh when I recently watched “The Fellowship of The Ring” (Part 1 of the “Lord of The Rings” trilogy) again. At one stage after leaving the Shire, Peregrin “Pippin” Took is clearly annoyed that he has to forgo a second breakfast and asks: “What about elevenses, luncheons, afternoon tea, dinner, supper?” A short instant later he gets hit by an apple on the head that Aragorn

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Comments Off   |  09/07/2016 Columns, Uncategorized

Quo vadis, Brexpats?

Quo vadis, Brexpats?

With a majority of just about 52 percent, the voters of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland decided in favour of leaving the European Union. However, “Brexpats” in the Basel will have to wait a few years before they are affected by the consequences. By Martin Pütter A majority of the British people seems to have shown the EU the middle finger (or rather two fingers, as is the custom in the British Isles). However, the “Brexpats” (it is astonishing how quickly new terms come up after such an event) living in the Basel area were either

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Comments Off   |  24/06/2016 Columns, Uncategorized

One door closed on fish & chips – but the latest two remain open

One door closed on fish & chips – but the latest two remain open

Many expats – and even some locals – just love fish & chips. After a sudden burst on the scene of the places where you could get one of Britain’s favourite fast foods, one of them has closed  – but only temporarily, as it seems. By Martin Pütter From sigh of relief to cry of exasperation it took just four months. In early March 2015 expats in the Basel area – particularly Brits – were over the moon that a “chippy” had opened. For those who are not familiar with this term: it means a fish & chip shop. However,

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Comments Off   |  11/07/2015 Columns, Uncategorized

English even for emergencies

English even for emergencies

Comment by Martin Pütter English-speaking expats can relax: their calls – in English – to the emergency services will be answered, even if other expats say differently. I recently read the following comment in a Facebook thread: “The Swiss fire brigade only attend if you call them in fluent German. Get a Swiss friend to record an emergency call for you – which you can then play back in the event of a fire.” I was astounded about this comment, made by a native English speaker (name withheld). Could this be true? As I had my doubts, I got in

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Comments Off   |  25/04/2015 Columns, Uncategorized

The little differences 10: Enjoy your meal

The little differences 10: Enjoy your meal

By Martin Pütter We all eat. But what we eat, especially what we like to eat most, and our attitude to food – here, locals and expats can differ. And yet, they may have more in common than you think. In early March 2015 one piece of news made many expats’ mouths water, particularly among the Brits. A takeaway had opened in Basel, serving fish and chips (it is called Tramways, and is located in Steinentorstrasse). The numerous comments on social media can be summarised as: Tramways serves up “proper fish and chips”. What they meant: the fish was not

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Comments Off   |  17/03/2015 Columns, Uncategorized

The little differences 9: Rules, rules, nothing but rules

The little differences 9: Rules, rules, nothing but rules

By Martin Pütter On Sundays, you are not allowed to hang up clothes to dry, nor to wash the car or mow the lawn; and after 10 pm on any day of the week you can play music at moderate volume only. Expats have trouble with regulations that seem (almost) normal for the locals. I must admit, this article in my series about little differences was inspired by a passage in another piece. On 1 December 2014 the Washington Times (not to be confused with the highly respected Washington Post) published an article headlined “Switzerland seeks skilled foreign workers amid

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1 Comment   |  06/02/2015 Columns, Uncategorized

The little differences: 8. The kissing question

The little differences: 8. The kissing question

By Martin Pütter For locals and expats in Basel alike there is only one certainty when it comes to men and women greeting each other: there seem to be no clear cut rules. The US comedian and actress Janeane Garofalo is spot on: “To me, there is no greater act of courage than being the one who kisses first.” And courage is required once members of different cultural backgrounds face the ritual of kissing each other when meeting or saying good-bye. Actually, you could say that “kissing” is a misnomer in this case, as cheek is pressed onto cheek, and

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Comments Off   |  23/11/2014 Columns, Uncategorized

The little differences: 7. Gas bill as ID

The little differences: 7. Gas bill as ID

For Swiss people (and perhaps many expats now living here) it is completely natural to always carry either a passport or an ID card on them. By Martin Pütter Many expats living in the Basel area may have experienced this already – just as all vehicle-driving locals will at least once in their life. You are driving your car, or your motorbike, and all of a sudden a policeman waves you to the side of the road (I use “policeman” on purpose as I have never seen policewomen do this kind of job – but I digress). After a polite

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Comments Off   |  07/09/2014 Columns, Uncategorized

The little differences: 6. Bare facts

The little differences: 6. Bare facts

Peel all their layers of clothing away, and you will still find quite a difference between locals and expats – in their attitude towards being exactly what they then are: naked. By Martin Pütter Recently, while fishing not far from Basel, I had an unusual experience. I had been working my way downstream, wading through the river, when all of a sudden a stark naked woman appeared on the bank opposite me and stepped into the water. Instead of screaming and disappearing into the nearest bush (which is what I would have expected) she just stood there, up to her knees

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Comments Off   |  20/07/2014 Columns
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