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Old 25.05.2019, 08:25
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Integrating in Switzerland & bonus volunteer ideas

Hope you're all gearing up for a fantastic weekend and that weather collaborates.

When I first arrived in Switzerland, which started as a 2 year stint that has grown to 7, it was tough finding activities and "a crowd". Partly this 2-year focus, partly that work is in english, partly the constant travel, partly that I'm an introvert... well, we all have our own excuses.

In the process, I've found a few activities I liked that were in English and where I could have fun in a non- "what's your name and where do you work" type of interaction.

My top 5 are:
1) Work. People tend to know your name and where you work so at least that's covered And you have a natural topic of conversation. I've made friends at work that will last me for a lifetime and been lucky enough to have made many friends on my travels abroad too.
2) Amateur theater, my skill is actually on set building more than acting. If you're in Zurich, I recommend zcc.ch. We get together 4-5 times a year, work through the night, eat snacks, and some of my closest friends come from there even if we don't see each other that often. These are the guys you can ask for help moving house, building furniture and the Christmas tree. They're always looking for volunteers!
3) Sports. I enter silly sporting competitions, play at local soccer club and have tried playing further away (but commute really is a killer). Where to look for these? Just pass by a sporting complex near your home or work and ask whoever is playing... found that to be the easiest. There's often room for one more.
4) RPG games. Ok, that definitely puts me on the nerd list. But yeah, you come together, you play a game for 4-5h, you are basically "in character" most of the time so the conversations are easier. I've been having a blast!
5) (Online) dating. Well, I'm single so that makes sense In general, people are really nice and sometimes you keep in touch even if you're not a romantic fit.

I've also tried german class lessons (fail on both community and learning aspect, so now do it online), Migros courses (in swissgerman, which made it hard), gemeinde activities (language and shyness didn't help), entrepreneurship/expat events which are great if small-ish in number but often get overwhelming, etc etc etc. For the record, I'm now on a german learning mission and looking to get to B2 by year-end.

I didn't set out to go and meet people ... but looking back I did all these things and I've built a really nice friends base here. It's great to see

Now onto the bonus area. When I first came here I thought I'd volunteer... then I realized there isn't that much need and most of it is in German. So until recently I didn't have that activity on my radar. That has changed with me meeting https://fokusnetzwerk.ch/ which provides support to refugees (and sometimes all the refugee wants is someone to teach english to his/her kids or to help with a lesson). Another thing I found out is that there is a portal that matches organizations with volunteers - https://www.benevol.ch/

Sometimes EF can turn a bit nasty, but I've learned a lot from it and I like giving back. Today I just felt like spreading good vibes and hope those reverberate further. Good luck to everyone who's "integrating" here
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Old 25.05.2019, 10:32
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Re: Integrating in Switzerland & bonus volunteer ideas

I just embrace introversion, stay at home and don't talk to anybody. Also a strategy.
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Old 25.05.2019, 13:56
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Re: Integrating in Switzerland & bonus volunteer ideas

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I just embrace introversion, stay at home and don't talk to anybody. Also a strategy.
Similar, but I talk to loads of people on the various forums I frequent.
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Old 31.05.2019, 06:04
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Re: Integrating in Switzerland & bonus volunteer ideas

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When I first came here I thought I'd volunteer...
This is a really helpful post, especially the volunteer links. Thanks!

I'm moving to Switzerland in September, going with my husband who will be studying for a year and my Grade 1 son. It's going to feel so strange to be under a family reunification plan and not the person going to work every day myself.
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