Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010
Welcome to the fifth edition of Dear Frau. It’s kind of like Dear Abby, except with an international twist. If you have a question, be sure to contact the Frau and maybe your little Frage will be in next week’s Dear Frau column.
Budweiser is casting a World Cup reality series and we need fans of Swiss football who would want to travel to South Africa to represent their country and team at the World Cup this summer. We’ve found fans from other countries already but are having problems finding people in Switzerland. Help! We are still searching for that one lucky fan who will represent Switzerland in the Bud House. He or she will be flown to Cape Town, South Africa, for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ and enjoy luxurious accommodations, thrilling excursions, and the opportunity to have the kind of access few fans ever have. If you could help us find that elusive Swiss fan that would be great.
Find me a Fan
Dear Find me a Fan,
The Frau was once at a U.S.A./Switzerland soccer game in Basel and it was kind of sad. The stadium was maybe 1/3 full. Maybe. But the Frau didn’t care because she hadn’t come for the football—she had come for the VIP box—and was busy stuffing her face with foods she can't normally afford in Switzerland–like steak.
Anyhow. It’s hard to see many Swiss get excited about much in public—especially a soccer game where they lose to a team as pathetic as the Americans. But still. There must be some die-hard fans out there.
Any Swiss football fans out there that want to travel to South Africa this summer? (Hmm. All I heard was an echo).
Ok yodelers, it’s time to act. Ask your friends, post this on Facebook, tweet it, whatever. We can’t let Switzerland be fan-less on the world reality stage. That would just be sad. We know the Swiss love reality TV. Just watch Bauer, ledig, sucht and you'll see what I mean.
If you’re interested or want more information, you can contact Find Me a Fan directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. She doesn’t mind. In fact, she looks forward to hearing from any and all yodelers.
Deadline to apply is March 28. Good luck!
Why do you think it’s so hard to find Swiss football fans? Is Switzerland too small of a country? Are the people here too private? The Frau wants to know what you think.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
I’m moving from the USA to Switzerland soon. Are there things I should definitely pick up here before moving?
Soon in Lausanne
Dear Soon in Lausanne,
Is Obama the U.S. President? Is Switzerland full of chocolate? Is this blog worth reading? The answer is yes.
Yes, you should definitely pick up things before moving to Switzerland especially if (1) you have a paid move and (2) want to save money.
It’s not that Switzerland doesn’t have stuff, it’s just that the stuff they sell is overpriced compared to its U.S. equivalent. And if you plan to go car-less like me and many expats living here, it makes living great, but buying things a hassle. (This comes from someone who knows hassle—she brings her six-foot Christmas tree home on a Swiss bus every year).
If there are certain non-perishable foods (and let’s be honest, in U.S. grocery stores that’s pretty much all there is) that you crave, make sure to stock up on those.
If you are moving American beds, it might be smart to buy an extra set of sheets because European bed sizes are different and if you soil your sheets, well, you don’t want to end up having to buy an entire new bed because of it.
If you’re a book-a-holic like the Frau, stock up on English books you want to read because they go about $30 a paperback in Switzerland. Planning on traveling around Europe? Buy a few guidebooks in advance. What about a French-English dictionary, n’est pas?
Shoes are another consideration to bring, especially athletic shoes, which in Switzerland can run $150-200 for a basic pair of running shoes. The Frau does not pretend to understand Swiss prices; she just tries to avoid paying them. (She recently discovered that Intersport sells sweatsuits for the reasonable equivalent of $150. Wow. No wonder Swiss people don't wear these things).
Cold/Flu medicine, aspirin, these would all be smart to bring since Swiss colds are nasty and the amount of foreign languages thrown around this little country can often cause headaches.
If you’re not being moved, that sucks but you’ll survive. And paying for a few extra suitcases on the plane may be worth it. Your best bet for affordable furniture in Switzerland is either IKEA or Interio.
Oh, and if you have room in your luggage after all of this, the Frau wouldn’t mind some Reese’s Pieces. The ones her sister brought her last week are almost gone already.
Now the Frau is tired, craving peanut butter (put that on the packing list!), and has run out of ideas. Anyone else have packing suggestions for our soon to be expat? What did you not bring and wish you had?
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
You haven't really lived in Switzerland until you have done an official chocolate taste test. Thanks to my sister, recent visitor and ultimate tourist, my first Swiss chocolate taste test has been completed with the following result: My taste buds suck.
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Thursday, March 04, 2010
I come from Sri Lanka and formerly worked as a journalist there. I want to join the media here, but I’ve had problems due to language issues. The government only provides me with German courses, they will not let me go to journalism school or to the university. What should I do?
Unfortunately, problems due to language issues are not a unique situation to foreigners living in Switzerland. Even the Swiss are often confused and speak to each other in non-official languages like English (except the French-speaking Swiss. They may know other languages, but they only and ever speak French).
Despite her 2.5 years of German language training, the Frau has accepted that she will never be able to be a German journalist or German copywriter. No matter how well you learn and speak a language, writing in it professionally is something that very few can do well as non-native speakers. That’s why so many companies in Switzerland seek native speakers for certain jobs.
The Frau knows she is fortunate to speak English as a native language and be able to continue her writing career because there are English publications in Switzerland. Even so, there aren't that many, so she still must look outside of Switzerland for opportunities. Let’s just say the Frau will not be writing for the NZZ anytime soon.
The Frau would never tell anyone to give up, only that as a non-native English, German, French, and Italian speaker, she thinks you have a tough road ahead as a journalist writing for Swiss publications. Competition for jobs these days is tight enough and as a writer, your language skills must be near perfect. Even the Frau worries she might misspell things and this freaks her out.
The Frau’s advice would be to try to continue to work for your former newspaper in Sri Lanka. Do they need international news? Could you be their Swiss or European correspondent? Could you write travel articles about Europe for other Sri Lanken publications? As a writer abroad, you must learn to be creative in ways writers in their home countries don't have to be. Try to think outside the box. The other option is to reinvent yourself completely and think of other things you love and could do in Switzerland with less barriers to employment.
Whew. The Frau hopes she's not being discouraging here, just realistic. Anyone else have advice for our Sri Lankan journalist? Feel free to disagree with the Frau's advice. How have some of you reinvented yourselves abroad?
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
How different is living in Switzerland versus living in the United States? One way to find out is through cheese. Both countries have it. The difference is that one sells cheese in aerosal cans and one does not. But for those whose lives (ahem, moi) were previously processed to perfection, getting used to the real stuff is not without pain.
Monday, March 01, 2010
Is anyone as amazed as I am that Migros (a large supermarket chain in Switzerland) is running an ad campaign to tell the world that they now sell things as unique as Coca-Cola? Wow. It's like it's news that people in Switzerland do drink things besides Rivella.