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  #21  
Old 17.06.2008, 10:27
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Re: Tips for Trailing Spouses

This is a great idea!

Here's one for those with little kids. Try and find a doctor for them very soon after you arrive. This saves all the anguish of needing one immediately but not knowing where to look, or finding out that they are all full.

My advice is to actually go in to the surgery to register. This way you meet the receptionist and if your German/Italian/French isn't great you can still have a conversation of sorts. They also get to meet you and know that you need some help with the language.

I did this with the doctor for my husband and myself, my daughter's doctor and my dentist. Now, with all of them, I can ring up and make an appointment and not feel too stressed by it as they make allowances for my bad (but improving!!) German.

Kate
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Old 17.06.2008, 10:43
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Re: Tips for Trailing Spouses

I am also a trailing spouse but don't have children so can't comment on that point of view, but here are my tips......

Be positive about your move, think of all the new and exciting things you are going to experience. If you go into it thinking you'll miss your family, it won't be the same, etc you'll never get anything positive out of the ordeal and you'll always have a cloud hanging over your head.

Don't compare to home - it's impossible. You can't compare costs, food, weather, people, flowers, what-have-you; you've thrown yourself into new surroundings and you need to embrace that and find new things here that you love, like you did back home.

Enroll in a language class, even if it's just to get the basics; this could be a great opportunity to meet new people in the same situation as you.

Get out and see the city while your spouse is at work. Walk everywhere, pick a new part of the city and walk up and down all of the streets and check out all of the shops. If it's raining take a book and sit yourself down in a cafe - don't sit at home, get out of the house.

Always have something (trips, concerts, movies, etc) to look forward to, even if it's just a night away in a new city. You're in the centre of Europe and there are cheap flights everywhere; this was a big thing for me and really made a difference in keeping me positive. It was my first time in Europe so everything was new. Go to Paris, Milan, Munich, Vienna - there are SO MANY places that are an arms length away.

Go out of your way to meet people. After moving here and seeing our social circle grow we realized that we make more of an effort to meet people, when you step away from your friends you finally realize that *good* friends are hard to find - take every opportunity you can to meet new friends....forum meet-ups, through hobbies, other people that have dogs, the person sitting next to you in the cafe that's speaking English, etc.

If you had a hobby back home, take up that hobby again and spend more time doing what you like....painting, gardening, biking, anything! this is probably going to be one of the few chances in your life where you can take ME time because you have lots of free time and don't have to work. Let's face it, we've all said "if only I had more time" or "I wish I didn't have to work"....

So that's my input for now, this is a great thread and I hope that those who are feeling down and homesick will read all of the suggestions here instead of the gloom in the complaints forum!
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  #23  
Old 17.06.2008, 11:13
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Re: Tips for Trailing Spouses

I can't believe I got groaned for my two tips. Believe me, having spoken to many many people about this, the attitude of the trailing spouse will be the major factor in making a success of the life here.

If the family pull together then it will be a success. If they don't then it doesn't matter in what new environment the family is placed ; the division will force a reversion to a more familiar setting and comfort zone.

dave
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  #24  
Old 17.06.2008, 11:37
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Re: Tips for Trailing Spouses

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Don't live in an expat bubble because it's easy, you'll never integrate and you'll never feel at home.
Peachy, I couldn't agree more! We moved here seven years ago and have moved a couple of times, each time we made the conscious effort of trying to find places which stayed away from the typical expat areas. This has helped loads with language practice (when your very friendly neighbours don't want to practice their English that is) and you also keep in touch with what's happening in your local community.
I also found getting out and about walking the dogs brings about a natural conversation starter when meeting other people out for a walk.

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Old 17.06.2008, 11:37
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Re: Tips for Trailing Spouses

Well, when you put it like that, it's very hard not to agree with you. Positive mental attitude and all that.

Maybe the trick is to stop thinking of it as a "trailing" spouse, but rather as a family decision. After all, families simply wouldn't move unless it was better for everyone involved.

I for one also really enjoyed a few months off. No complaints from me on that score...
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Old 17.06.2008, 11:48
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Re: Tips for Trailing Spouses

Great thread. Been here a year and what with getting pregnant on arrival and all that brings, I feel like I'm still settling in!

I agree with what has already been said: you have to recognise that your own needs take a back seat for the moment if you're going to make the move work - what's important for now is making sure your spouse is settling in successfully and that your children are happy - and this has been very satisfying - surprisingly satisfying in my case (I can be terribly precious in general, and I'm used to being the one with 'the' job!).

Having said all that, I couldn't have survived without my Marionnaud card - it's important to spoil yourself once in a while!!
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Old 17.06.2008, 11:56
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Re: Tips for Trailing Spouses

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I can't believe I got groaned for my two tips.
I don't know why you were groaned at..for giving an opinion? Personally I think groaning should only be permitted if you post why. Is simply disagreeing a reason to groan? I thought we were here to exchange information and opinions. One doesn't need to justify thanking someone, though not everyone bothers to. Pity really. It's just too easy to groan. I vote to take the groan feature away.

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Believe me, having spoken to many many people about this, the attitude of the trailing spouse will be the major factor in making a success of the life here.

If the family pull together then it will be a success. If they don't then it doesn't matter in what new environment the family is placed ; the division will force a reversion to a more familiar setting and comfort zone.

dave
I agree. A lot of expat marriages fall apart for a variety of reasons. They don't seem to weather the trials and tribulations of moving. As a relocation consultant I have seen this happen. In many cases I think the situation could have been helped if there was more support given to the stay at home spouse (often the wife, but not always) to help settle in. Finding a house to rent, choosing schools - these appear to be the big issues but in fact, once these things are deciding, it's the day-to-day living issues that cause the difficulties. I worked in relocations overseas and our policy was on-going support throughout the duration of the posting. It made a huge difference and for this reason I offer this here. Knowing a person who has "been there, done it" is just a phonecall away really helps. So does having a good friend, and as it has been said here many times, get out and meet people and make some friends.
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Old 17.06.2008, 12:17
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Re: Tips for Trailing Spouses

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This is a great idea!

Here's one for those with little kids. Try and find a doctor for them very soon after you arrive. This saves all the anguish of needing one immediately but not knowing where to look, or finding out that they are all full.

My advice is to actually go in to the surgery to register. This way you meet the receptionist and if your German/Italian/French isn't great you can still have a conversation of sorts. They also get to meet you and know that you need some help with the language.

I did this with the doctor for my husband and myself, my daughter's doctor and my dentist. Now, with all of them, I can ring up and make an appointment and not feel too stressed by it as they make allowances for my bad (but improving!!) German.

Kate
Kate, excellent advice. At the same time it is worth asking what the procedure is for after hours. In some cases, doctors work in a group and they rotate who covers after hours. This was the case with our childrens' pediatrician years ago. In my experience, things can and do happen after hours
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Old 17.06.2008, 12:27
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Re: Tips for Trailing Spouses

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I also found getting out and about walking the dogs brings about a natural conversation starter when meeting other people out for a walk.

Jon
So true! It's so easy to strike up a conversation with another dog owner....you already have something in common. I have met many people this way.

The problem I find is that when I see this person around town, I can't always remember their name but I almost always remember the dog's name!

I also find I often meet someone with a dog when I don't have our dogs with me. The other dog knows I have a dog and usually sniffs at my jeans. The owner is usually very apologetic and often has no idea why. It's hard to imagine that I am not wearing a single dog hair But it also seems to be a way to meet people and we end up talking about our dogs.
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Old 17.06.2008, 13:05
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Re: Tips for Trailing Spouses

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The problem I find is that when I see this person around town, I can't always remember their name but I almost always remember the dog's name!
Once when we lived in Japan I was travelling to Hong Kong with a colleague on business. We were waiting in the lounge at Narita airport when a neighbour, who happened to own a dog as well, came up to me and greeted me enthusiastically as "Abby's papa". After the neighbour had left my colleague turned to me and said "I thought you only had two boys?". My reply: "I do. Abby is our dog!" Needless to say he got a kick out of that.
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  #31  
Old 17.06.2008, 13:08
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Re: Tips for Trailing Spouses

I gave up my job to move here 5 years ago with boyfriend and three step-children! I found it soul destroying not working and i too dreaded it when people asked "And what do you do?" it used to make me cringe and still does at times. My suggestion is to get out of the house! i walked everywhere or used the public transport to learn about the area.I got involved with the School for a couple of years but not a cookie baking, home building kinda mum i gave it a miss eventually. Now i have the time to read and enjoy this beautiful country and thanks to the EF i have a great and varied circle of friends and together we have organised "The Great Lausanne Fundraising BBQ in July"
If you are new here and struggling then TALK to people. Tell people you are finding it difficult but most importantly give yourself TIME.

I spent the first year constantly wanting to go back home. Now, you couldnt drag me back. If you can learn the language then thats great but i personally have got along just fine with knowing very little French.
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  #32  
Old 17.06.2008, 13:09
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Re: Tips for Trailing Spouses

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Believe me, having spoken to many many people about this, the attitude of the trailing spouse will be the major factor in making a success of the life here.

If the family pull together then it will be a success. If they don't then it doesn't matter in what new environment the family is placed ; the division will force a reversion to a more familiar setting and comfort zone.

dave
Couldn't agree with you more Dave. I think many people underestimate the fact that the person who is being relocated by a company has work to keep them busy, kids have school (or are too young to notice) and the spouse is left to his/her own devices. And that makes their position the most difficult to cope with. Companies who relocate staff all too often pay too little attention to this fact.
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  #33  
Old 17.06.2008, 17:24
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Re: Tips for Trailing Spouses

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Can we start a thread on "how to become a trailing spouse"?

i need a break from my stupid job and 12 hour workdays.

New book (one hopes) by Douglas Coupland -- 'Generation Zzz'.


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Keep the ideas rolling in folks!
...
Read an English newspaper in a local park. (If you do this when it's raining, you may catch the eye of another English speaking person even more quickly).
That's too funny, Longbyt.
(Even if you don't hook up with another English-mumbling person, you can spend hours relishing the art and craft of papier mache at the end of it.)
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  #34  
Old 17.06.2008, 18:07
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Re: Tips for Trailing Spouses

This is a wonderful Thread.

If you can, find a contact in the place where you are moving to.
I was lucky to find a contact in Basel before I moved here. Someone I had not met before but she was a friendly woman also from Australia who had 'been there, done that'. She has since moved back to Australia, but for a few months was able to answer a lot of my questions about how things work and daily life. It gave me great confidence. I am now repaying the deed. By coincidence another 'family' forum I read, had a member announce they are moving to Switzerland. I contacted her and now have corresponded several times answering similar questions to those I had initially.

Peachy. you mentioned not living in an expat bubble. I agree in part with this, however I find sometimes you just need to be able to talk to someone about stuff. When you can barely order lunch in the unfamiliar language you really need to be able to speak to someone else who you can have a deeper conversation with. The English speakers I have met who live local to me have been wonderful. I have swapped babysitting, called on them when I needed help and they know I will do the same for them, we are all in the same boat, families with children with no family support. I am trying to learn the language, but I think I would be very lonely if I had to rely on brief conversations on the tram or in the street.

I asked around and found an English-speaking toddler group I could attend. These are great mixed groups, with people coming from all over including Swiss who may have English-speaking partners.

I see this time as a great opportunity for me. I can learn a new language, see a new country and the surrounding ones. Over summer I plane to make a lot of day trips with the kids and go exploring. When my youngest goes to preschool full-time at the end of summer I will be able to take time to indulge my hobbies.

cheers
Larissa
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  #35  
Old 18.06.2008, 18:45
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Re: Tips for Trailing Spouses

You actually wanted to go back to Margate?!

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I spent the first year constantly wanting to go back home. Now, you couldnt drag me back.
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  #36  
Old 21.06.2008, 19:34
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Re: Tips for Trailing Spouses

This Thread seems to fill a gap in the infos in the Forum (many, many thanks to all posters). On coming to a new country one reckons with different food, a different language, different coinage, a different school system, but it does throw folk who rent a flat in Switzerland to be confronted with the communal washing-machine and laundry room situation. As the only Threads I have seen are not exactly ‘positive’ but we still have to live with it, here goes…

Laundry Rota in Apartments
In the newest flats each may have their own washing machine and dryer. In other apartment buildings there are one or two rooms in the basement with washing machine(s), sometimes a separate spin-dryer and often a tumble-drier. Usually there will be a room with washing lines and also a Stewi (rotary drier) to put into its ’socket’ in the garden.
In most of these houses there is, or was once, an official list which shows when each tenant (i.e. each apartment) in rotation has use of the machines and drying room. Sometimes the laundry is locked and the key has to collected from and returned to the caretaker or collected from the previous ‘washer’ and passed on to the following one. In many places the tenants arrange the rota among themselves and in some you can wash ’whenever you like’. There may well be a blank list and anyone wanting to wash, enters their name for the appropriate date/day/time.
Obviously, sharing laundry facilities can cause problems, not only for a foreigner unused to the idea, but also among the Swiss themselves. There are, however, methods of making ones own life easier.
· Try to stick to the arrangement, whichever form it takes, until you understand how it works.
· ‘Everyone washes anytime they like’, can be slightly misleading. It is worth asking if there are any ‘unwritten’ arrangements. Perhaps Mrs. B always washes on Tuesday, Mrs. C every second Friday and the stay-at-home Mums wash in the daytime, but by tacit agreement the evenings are left free for those who are out at work all day.
· As we may assume that in a house with a 14-day rota, the Mums at least, wash in-between times; one can try to find out how they arrange it.
· Often the tenants ask each other – ‘can you let me know when you have finished, so that I can quickly do a load?’; try to be obliging if you are asked. Even if the other folk aren’t always super-friendly, you’ll feel better about asking if you have been helpful yourself.
· If you do washing when you know the ‘correct washer’ doesn’t want to use the machine for any reason and you have to leave the house while the machines are still running, it’s not a bad idea put your washing basket beside the machine so that anyone else wanting to benefit, can drop your washing into it.
· If you are not 200% certain that the machine is free but use it anyway, leave a note saying who you are.
· Try not to leave washing hanging when it is long since dry.
· If you tramp on someone’s toes and they return from their holiday when you are merrily using ‘their’ day, apologize and stop as soon as possible unless they specifically say you can finish off; if it is obviously causing them a lot of inconvenience, a bunch of flowers, chocolate or something similar help to smooth ruffled feathers. I don't mean grovel, but it IS their day, and it IS a nuisance.
· On the plus side
o Mostly the machines are bigger than those one has in the kitchen in England. If you have a king size bed it can be a real advantage.
o Your teenage sons and daughters cannot blame you if their favourite whatever hasn’t yet been washed.
o To folk who say ‘I like to wash whenever I want to’ – do you really want to wash every day, or is it just a habit?
o Think of how green it is and how good for the environment to wash just that little bit less often.
· If you decide to buy your own washing machine in a rented flat, make sure it is permitted and also get someone to check the electricity requirements. It can be a nuisance if you blow a fuse each time you use the vacuum cleaner when you are doing the washing. (Been there, done that!)
· If you dry things in the flat, remember that in Swiss flats, with their good seals on doors and windows, there is very little ‘movement’ of air. With the additional moisture you may be in danger of having mould on the interior walls. (See other Threads).
· If the washing doesn’t dry very well in the drying room, ask other tenants if they have problems too. If there is too little ventilation, even quite a small fan can help.
· In an apartment house with a lift, the laundry is probably the only place you will see your neighbours. Here is the golden opportunity to ask them if they will empty your letter-box each day while you are away on holiday!
The idea of a shared laundry may seem crazy to us. Things in other countries seem crazy to the Swiss. And here, WE are the aliens and the ones who need to fit in with the Swiss system.

Much of this is so obvious to us – but judging by other posts, it clearly isn’t to folk who just arrive.
Please add any helpful ideas or other forms of washing rota you have experienced so that this is as complete as possible.
I plan to edit this post later and remove the ‘internal’ comments at the beginning and end!
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  #37  
Old 22.06.2008, 02:51
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Re: Tips for Trailing Spouses

I have recently moved from having a place with own laundry machine to a shared laundry. Its not working so well for me. Reason being the tenants in my block wash `as they wish` no roster or anything. Have had troubles with the woman elderly caretaker, she seems to interrupt me every time I am down there - to ask in her horrible serbian sounding schweizer deutsch `Wie lange bleibst du in der waschküche...`` I dont speak much swiss german and I am beginning to dislike her....I tend to feel she watches my every move `weird`.....
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Old 22.06.2008, 12:05
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Re: Tips for Trailing Spouses

Sorrya ngina, but this is not what I was looking for. I am sending you a PM - perhaps it will help.
There is already a thread with tales of woe about the Swiss system, but here I am really looking for ways to avoid problems and successfully 'live with it'; I've been doing it for almost forty years and have never yet come to blows... If anyone needs to let off steam, please use the other Thread under Complaints Corner.
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Old 23.06.2008, 12:33
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Re: Tips for Trailing Spouses

I appreciate that none of the following is what ngina wants to hear. But if we can't find the right answers, sometimes, at least, it's because we are asking the wrong questions.
Divide and conquer.
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I have recently moved from having a place with own laundry machine to a shared laundry. Its not working so well for me. Reason being the tenants in my block wash `as they wish` no roster or anything.
Is your problem that the machine is always running when you want to wash? How does the 'as they wish' actually function?
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Have had troubles with the woman elderly caretaker, she seems to interrupt me every time I am down there -
I tend to feel she watches my every move `weird`.....
Unpleasant feeling but her job is to keep things running smoothly in the house. Perhaps this is her way of doing it.
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to ask in her horrible serbian sounding schweizer deutsch
We are the aliens...
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`Wie lange bleibst du in der waschküche...``
Answer: ten minutes... half an hour... I still have two machinesful to wash...
I can only hope that someone out there sees what I am trying to get at.
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Old 23.06.2008, 12:46
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Re: Tips for Trailing Spouses

Very much agree Longbyt. I've heard quite a few people express surprise at how "agressive" Swiss and German people are. Ultimatly, they are not being rude, they are just from a different culture where the direct approach is perfectly normal (in Britain we are always uber-polite about things, often not asking the question we really want answered).

The laundry lady is probably not being rude or agressive, she's probably just trying to keep things moving like you said.


And, as I think Dave said earlier, the trick is to try not to feel like a victim. I'm sure the lady is the same with all the people in the block.
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