Friday, March 16, 2018

Switzerland's language facts

Switzerland has four language regions: German, French, Italian and Romansch. Multilingualism is an integral part of Switzerland's national identity, however, that does not mean every Swiss is multilingual!

It is important to know that there are three official languages in Switzerland (German, French and Italian) but there are four National languages (German, French, Italian AND Romansch). Although Romansh is spoken by only some 10,000 people in certain parts of Graubünden, it has five distinct dialects: Sursilvan, Sutsilvan, Surmiran, Puter and Vallader.

Here are some more facts:

- German is the main language of around 64.9% of the population. However, they do not speak standard German but rather various Alemmanic dialects that are collectively known as “Schwiizerdütsch” (Swiss German).
- Swiss German is not a written language, although it is used sometimes in personal correspondence. Standard German is used for all formal, written communication.
- French is the main language of around 22.6% of the population.
- Italian is the main language of around 8.3% of the population.
- Romansch is the main language of about 0.5% of the population.
- Several cantons are multilingual: Bern (German-French), Fribourg (French-German), Valais (French-German) and Graubünden (German-Romansh-Italian).
- Swiss German is the most widely used language in the workplace (66%), followed by standard German (33%), French (29%), English (18%) and Italian (9%).
- Over 42% of the population over the age of 15 regularly use more than one language.
- Foreigners living in Switzerland also contribute to the country's linguistic diversity. English and Portuguese are the most commonly spoken foreign languages.
- Other commonly spoken foreign languages include Spanish, Serbian, Croatian and Albanian.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Young Swiss Abroad Summer Camps

Nearly 760,000 Swiss citizens are currently living in another country, either temporarily or for a longer period. The holiday camps run by the Foundation for Young Swiss Abroad (FYSA) have a long history.

The Foundation for Young Swiss Abroad:
- is a registered Swiss charity that offers Swiss children living abroad the opportunity to have a holiday in their home country, irrespective of their financial circumstances, thereby creating strong links with Switzerland.
- is an organisation that brings together Swiss children from all seven continents, allowing them to form new friendships and ties.The organisation promotes mutual understanding and support that transcends cultural and linguistic barriers.
- provides help for Swiss children living in areas affected by natural disasters and conflict

The main aim of our holiday camps is to allow Swiss children living abroad to get to know their home country for the first time or, for those who have visited Switzerland before, to get to know the country better. They will visit and look at many of Switzerland’s sights. The attractions will include cities, countryside, mountains, caves, lakes, rivers, etc. They might do some easy hikes but will also be travelling by train, bus and ship.

Each camp is led by an experienced camp leader. The camp leader is supported by an efficient kitchen team and several well qualified counsellors. In each camp at least half of the camp leaders have a federal qualification as camp leader J+S Lagersport/trekking.

As for the language, participants come from all over the world and speak a wide range of languages. The team of leaders carry out the programmes in German, French and English. So the camp language does not depend on the language spoken in the camp location.

The holiday camps will be held in simple but well-equipped houses. Children will be accommodated in rooms with three to eight beds depending on the house and will eat together with the whole camp family.

Requirements: 1.) The child or one parent must be a Swiss citizen. 2.) The child must reside abroad.

For more info on 2018 Summer camps:
Programme & Registration:

Friday, March 9, 2018

Pink your life

Think pink and get fit! Have you heard of the latest kid in town called Boutique Fitness Studio Pinkenergy? Well, it is all it promises to be; it will rev up your energy in a cloud of pink!

Pinkenergy's mission is to help every woman, at any stage of her life, find her own psychophysical wellbeing through personalized training programs and lessons in small groups. Pinkenergy wants to be not only a place to exercise, but a real community where women can recharge, help each other,  exchange views and regain their energy to live a healthy and peaceful life.

You can try a Pinkenergy Cardio Sculpt or even join a Wonder Women's Workout. Or how about a Pinkenergy Mum & Baby Pilates? Whatever your choice it is guaranteed to be healthy and fun. Pinkenergy's motto is: "ENERGY ALWAYS"!

Venue: Boutique Fitness Studio Pinkenergy
Where: Via Pico 29, 6900 Lugano – Cassarate
Tel: 091 970 36 92

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Celebrating Women's Day

“The house does not rest upon the ground, but upon a woman”
Mexican Proverb... one of my favourite.
Happy Women's Day

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Brexit in Switzerland

The British Embassy in Bern is holding a roadshow to discuss Brexit with British Nationals living in Switzerland. The British Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, Jane Owen, cordially invites you to a series of events to discuss Brexit. There will be the chance to meet the Ambassador, ask your questions about Brexit and share your thoughts on its impact on you. The events will be after work, beginning roughly at 6pm.

Here are the dates coming up:
Wednesday 7 March 2018: Basel
Tuesday 13 March 2018: Zurich
Tuesday 20 March 2018: Lugano
Friday 23 March 2018: Vaduz

Please register by emailing the British Embassy at with the subject “British Nationals Roadshow” including your full name and the event you would like to attend.

The deadline for registration for the events in Basel and Zurich are on Thursday 1 March 2018 but there's still time to register for Lugano. Please note that spaces are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Similarly, if you have specific issues or questions that you want to raise or otherwise get involved, please let us know in your email.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

20 answers to the infamous question: "Where do you come from?"

"Where are you from?" implies that you want to know what city or country is considered "home," assuming it's someplace other than where you are right now. This may be confusing, since where someone is "from" isn't necessarily where they live or where their parents are from.

One of my biggest dilemma's is to answer the simple question of where I come from. Soooo many times have the kids and I been asked that depending on the situation we now have the short answer, the medium elevator pitch or sometimes even the whole 9-yards story. The difficulty here is to suss out which answer is suitable for any given situation. It takes a lot of intuition and and fast assessment of the pros and cons before launching into that discussion. It also depends on the current state of mind, at times you're happy to chat, others it's just too much to face.

My accent(s!) can't be pinned to one country, I dare say I have two mother tongues. In my mind I am a Latina although I only have Nordic blood running through my veins and my heart is lost to Switzerland.

Therefore - with a pinch of sense of humour - here are some of my families' answers to the infamous question: " Where are you from?"

- It's complicated!
- Somewhere out there.
- Do you want the long version or the short version?
- Pick a country—any country!
- Are you asking where I was born, where I grew up, where my parents are from, or what kind of passport I have?
- When I find out I’ll let you know.
- Please don’t ask!
- Um, it’s kind of hard to explain…
- Do you have enough time for this?
- Technically, I’m from…but my parents are from…but I grew up…and I do/don’t speak…but I like living…but technically I’m from…
- Are you sure you want to know?
- That’s a tough question.
- You know, I wish I knew
- Um, it depends
- I don’t know
- Well, all over the world really. Where are you from?
- Outer space.
- Why do you want to know? (shifty eyes)
- Here!
- My heart is Neapolitan!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A flight with the Swiss Air Force

Still caught in ski mode after a week's skiing in the mountains I came across this extraordinary 360°C video of the Swiss Air Force flying over the Lauberhorn Ski Race a month ago.

Not sure, you might need to have grown up in Switzerland, have done the Swiss military service or skied down the Lauberhorn slope to fully capture the beauty of this moment. On the other hand, even if you have never set foot onto Swiss turf just sit back and enjoy the flight.

Not only does it feature a Patrouille Suisse flight demonstration with cockpit view, the fighter jets are flanking a regular Swiss International Airline plane while cruising above the 89th International Lauberhorn Ski Race.

Truly spectacular viewing.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

A charming Swiss mountain village

While there was a great deal of skiing happening this week despite the bad weather... mainly by the female contingency of the family, I might add... I did get some shots from the charming village that has been the next best thing to childhood home.

Rougemont nestles into the pre-Alpine landscape and is the highest resort of the Pays-d’Enhaut holiday region in Canton Vaud. The name stems from the red rock outcroppings north of the village.

Rougemont has preserved its rich cultural and architectural heritage to the present day.

Some of them are over 400 years old and richly embellished with carvings and frescos, decorated with flowers and inscribed with the names of the builder and first owner. 

Old customs contrast with diverse modern leisure activities that are on offer in both summer and winter.

Not much shopping in this corner of the valley...

... but oh so many opportunity to take pictures.

Old tools recycled...

... modern doorbells clashing... 

... endless secrets hidden behind closed doors...

... even the stacked firewood looks orderly.

Baby, it's cold outside!

Monday, February 26, 2018

The perfect Swiss hot chocolate recipe

The so-called ‘Beast from the East’ weather front has hit Switzerland and temperatures dropped to as low as -28.9 degrees Celsius in the canton of Graubünden in the early hours of Monday, the coldest morning of the Swiss winter so far. The cold weather is expected to continue until Friday. After a day of snowfall on Thursday, milder temperatures will arrive at the end of the week.

My suggestion: stay warm and cosy and make yourself a yummy mug of hot Swiss chocolate.

Ingredients for 2 mugs:
3 dl milk
50 gr dark chocolate (Crémant is my favourite), crumbled
sprinkle of cinnamon
sprinkle of sugar, optional
1 dl cream, whipped
Cocoa powder for decoration

1.) Heat the milk, remove from the heat.
2.) Add chocolate, stirring with the whisk until melted.
3.) Add cinnamon and possibly sugar, to taste.
4.) Pour into cups and dollop whipped cream on top, dust with cocoa, serve immediately!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Portrait of a Swiss Abroad

Switzerland takes great inspiration from the experiences of its ex-patriots. This is why the link with the Fifth Switzerland is essential to promote exchanges. In order to achieve this, numerous activities and services are suggested to Swiss people living abroad. Many splendid offers for young people in Switzerland, holding the traditional Congress of the Swiss Abroad in a different place in the country each year and the network of Swiss schools around the world all form part of this fine selection of offers aimed at the public of the Fifth Switzerland.

In August 2018, the 96th Congress of the Swiss Abroad will take place on the theme of "Switzerland without Europe – Europe without Switzerland”. However, the relationship between Switzerland and Europe is an issue that largely extends beyond the European question.

For the occasion, the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) wishes to present portraits of the Swiss abroad related to the congress theme and to find out more about their impressions of life as Swiss living abroad and their view of international cooperation between their countries of origin and residence.

Get involved! In the run-up to the Congress, we'll be presenting a new profile every week on our websites and social media channels which we'll select from the most interesting submissions.
Send us your answers to the questions below with your name, country of residence and a portrait photo by e-mail to The submission deadline is 28 February 2018.

Please answer at least three of these questions as well as the last but one with the text in bold:
1.) How connected to Switzerland do you feel?
2.) When was the last time you felt really proud or ashamed of Switzerland?
3.) How is Switzerland perceived abroad or in the country where you live?
4.) What do the bilateral agreements and treaties bring to Switzerland? What positive or negative experiences have you had in this regard?
5.) How are these bilateral agreements and treaties seen in the country where you live?
6.) What does the free movement of persons bring to Switzerland? What aspects could be dealt with better here? Are you personally taking advantage of this freedom?
7.) What are the benefits of dual citizenship in your view?

Terms and conditions of participation:
By participating you consent to the display and sharing of your photograph, name, country of residence and answers on the internet. There is no payment for participation.

Further information in German and French is available on

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