Posts Tagged ‘France’

Four great day trips just over the Swiss border

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010
The old town in Waldshut, Germany is great for shopping.

The old town in Waldshut, Germany is great for shopping.

by Chantal Panozzo

No matter how long I live in Switzerland, I always feel a rush when I cross a border, even if it’s just for the day. Grocery shopping in Germany, hiking in Lichtenstein, dining in France, part of the fun of living in a country that borders five others is being able to country-hop. Below are four suggestions to make the most of your next border crossing.

Waldshut, Germany: An adorable, postcard perfect town just 40 minutes by train from Zurich. Geraniums spill from windows in the car-free old town where shopping deals can be found on clothes, bakeries offer tempting things like Nusszopf (nut bread), and ice cream cones are only 1 Euro. 1 Euro. Yes. We are not in Switzerland anymore. And right near the train tracks, take your pick, there are three huge grocery stores just waiting to temp you with their huge selection and reasonable prices.

Lake Como, Italy: Less than 30 minutes by train from Lugano, Como and its small resort towns cluster around Lake Como. You can visit a new one each time you cross the border: George Clooney can be found in Bellagio, the Vezio castle is yours to climb in Varenna, and the cathedral awaits in Como. And if you’re feeling fashionable, Milan is just another short 30-minute train ride away.

Vaduz, Lichtenstein: Why go to Lichtenstein? To say you went, of course. While you’re in Vaduz, be sure to buy a few stamps before you embark on a 2.5 hour round-trip hike, beginning and ending at the Rheinpark Stadium.

Eguisheim, France: Not far from Basel, Eguisheim, France is one of the most charming towns in the Alsace. Brightly colored houses all seem to compete for a gardening award, bakeries serve dome-shaped cakes called kougelhopfs, and a walk in the vineyards is just steps away.

Where do you like to border-hop?

Chantal Panozzo is a writer in Switzerland. She’s the author of One Big Yodel, a blog about life in Switzerland and moving abroad, and also discusses living abroad as a freelancer at Writer Abroad.

Great Books to Read as an Expat

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

petite-uk paperbackBy Chantal Panozzo

While living in Switzerland, I have devoured many books about the living abroad lifestyle. Books about a British woman involved with too many French men. Books about an American man trying to buy something as simple as a bay leaf in France to disastrous results. And books about an Australian journalist who can’t help but run out in her sweat pants to buy a baguette to the horror of her chic Parisian neighbors.

Below I’ve listed some of my favorites—and as you’ll see, I have an affinity for books taking place in France. Am I a traitor? I don’t think so. Because right now, I can’t seem to find any memoirs about living in Switzerland, even though the country has a foreign population of 20%. But no matter. Because the experience of living abroad and reinventing one’s self is a universal theme no matter the location. And because most of the books below have reinvention abroad as a major theme, I can relate to them all—and I think maybe you will too.

Petite Anglaise by Catherine Sanderson is a memoir about life in Paris with a modern, digital twist. What happens when your blog messes with your love life and gets you fired from your job? This British author and expat has the answer.

I’ll Never Be French by Mark Greenside is a hilarious account of what happens when an American man buys a house in Brittany. It’s fun and lighthearted and makes me want to move to France.

A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke is an international bestseller, “almost memoir”, about a British businessman who takes a job in Paris. It’s an entertaining and humorous book that deals with the realities of life and work abroad.

GenXPat by Margaret Malewski and A Moveable Marriage by Robin Pascoe are both excellent informational and practical guidebooks books on living abroad.

Almost French by Sarah Turnbull is a bestseller in Turnbull’s native Australia and deals with a young woman trying to discover a new identity abroad.

But enough about what I like. What are your favorite books about life abroad?

Chantal Panozzo is a writer in Switzerland who has written for a variety of publications on two continents. She’s the author of One Big Yodel, a blog about life in Switzerland and moving abroad, and also discusses living abroad as a freelancer at Writer Abroad.

Trailing Spouse Trivia

Thursday, January 28th, 2010


by Chantal Panozzo

Probably a lot of you are like me: A former DINK (Double-Income-No-Kids) who wants to continue her career while living abroad. But if you’re an accompanying spouse, this can be a challenge depending on the laws surrounding work permits. Luckily, the international trend is to loosen these laws and some countries have already acted on them.

For example, in France, an accompanying spouse no longer has to apply for a separate work permit if they are spouses of people working at multinationals. According to the International Herald Tribune, The Netherlands, Hong Kong, Argentina, Singapore and the United States have also loosened restrictions. Unfortunately, Switzerland is not among them. And while it can be fairly easy to find a job in Switzerland as an EU National, when you’re a non-EU the task gets harder.

But it’s not impossible. As a non-EU, I was successfully able to find work in Switzerland. Every situation is different.

Some interesting facts about trailing spouses, courtesy of Yvonne McNulty, a trailing spouse researcher include:

84% of us have a Bachelor’s Degree or higher (see, we were not meant to be Hausfraus or Hausmanns!)

64% of us left careers to join our partners abroad

55% of us couldn’t continue working because of visa/work-permit restrictions

The important thing to do in any situation is to take control. If you can’t work where you’re living, or you later become laid off like moi, get creative. What else could you do? In a 2008 New York Times article, McNulty said, “What I found in my research is that almost all spouses face an identity crisis, but only about 10 to 15 percent did something about it, by becoming authors, getting an MBA or starting businesses,” she said. Most “felt they were victims, with no control.”

So instead of mourning my loss of my job idenitity, I constantly try to create new opportunities doing the things I love. In between searching for a “real job”, I’m currently writing a memoir, working as a freelancer for a Swiss magazine, and writing for U.S. publications.

If you’re a trailing spouse abroad, how have you approached continuing your career?

Chantal Panozzo is a writer and blogger in Zurich, Switzerland. She’s the author of One Big Yodel, a blog about life in Switzerland, and Writer Abroad. She also blogs for Affordable Calling Cards, a new expat community blog. This blog offers affordable calling cards in Switzerland as well as information about living abroad in Switzerland and in many other countries.

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