Category Archives: Expat Lifestyle

I am now three months into my new job, what someone would call my first real job, and my student life seems so far behind. The truth is that less than a year has gone by since I finished writing my thesis and my student ID expired just four months ago.

Fortunately and unpredictably, 2020 was for me a rather eventful year despite what could be common assumptions. In particular, one event at the very beginning of the year marked a great part of the months that followed: in January, I happily signed my six months’ internship agreement at Global People Transitions. Only one condition initially made me doubtful about embarking on this challenge: working from home. Was I going to get the real work experience feeling? Was I going to be able to bond with my colleagues? Was I going to feel isolated or lonely?  

I look back and smile at this thought as, ironically, that was the very factor that made my internship possible at a time the world was shaken by the current global pandemic.

I started off my internship on April 1st, when some governments had already adopted heavy restrictions for containing the spread of the virus, while others still thought there wasn’t really much to worry about…things have changed so much that perhaps that’s also why it feels so long ago.

The internship at GPT kept me busy for a great part of 2020 and, in hindsight, I can see how it brought good things and concrete perspectives in 2021 as well. I feel lucky because I know that many others out there probably share opposite feelings.

The 6 months’ experience at GPT shaped me both at a professional and at a personal level. Being trained, supervised, and coached directly by the founder and Managing Director Angie Weinberger provided me with concrete tools, useful to face the upcoming work challenges with a down-to-earth approach.

Today, I would like to share with you the seven reasons, though not the only ones, why I think that interested candidates should consider an internship at GPT:

1. You Learn an Awful Lot About Global Mobility

Angie Weinberger is a renown professional with decades of experience as a Global Mobility Manager, Lecturer, Trainer and Coach. Being her right hand for six months meant earning an incredible amount of knowledge in the field of Global Mobility and being able to get a first-hand experience in the buzzing Expat World.

From the most administrative and practical aspects of setting up an international assignment to the most hidden and psychological facets of family relocation and culture shock, I learnt that being a Global Mobility expert means much more than getting the conversion rate right.

2. You get the international vibe

This might sound very much predictable – after all expats are international – however, not all internships in the Global Mobility sector offer you this opportunity. At Global People Transitions, I regularly and directly handled communications with many clients from different cultural, professional, and educational backgrounds, some of them living in Switzerland, and many others in more or less far away countries. But it’s more than that: you get to exchange with stakeholders and partners all over the world and have the opportunity to experience first-hand how things are done differently elsewhere.

The best aspect, however, is being part of a vibrant international team and this is not a foregone conclusion. At GPT I had the pleasure to work with a small though strong team of global professionals with considerable intercultural experience. Currently, GTP team counts six components spread across four different countries, three continents and four different time zones. Where else do you find these perks?

3. You Expand Your Professional Network

Something an internship should definitely give you is good prospects for the future career you want to embark on. It should build that last layer of foundations that you’ve been constantly growing with dedication and hard work through your studies and potentially, previous internships.

Now, creating a professional network for yourself is one of the most fundamental steps you take early in your career. And as an intern at GPT you are served this very opportunity on a plate. You handle communications with important partners, you participate in webinars, you set up interviews and podcast recordings with experienced professionals of various fields…you even might be invited to take part in in-person workshops with Angie’s clients!

And if this was not enough to expand your network of professional contacts, you’re given even more tools during the coaching (more about it at point 5) to help you enhance your professional presence both face-to-face and online.

4. You Boost Your Entire Skill Set

Before starting my internship at GPT I found it hard to believe I was even going to learn some basic programming and help out with graphic design. But it happened, I took the opportunity, made the most out of it and today I know a little more than I did before this challenge.

This is to say that even if officially an “academic internship”, the experience gives you the chance to strengthen skills you already have and for which you were probably selected, but also to test abilities you didn’t even know you had in you.

What I personally feel I became stronger at are interpersonal and intercultural communication, organizational, problem-solving, research, and analytical as well as digital skills. But I also definitely improved my time management skills and became a more resourceful professional, which is one of the most important teachings I take away from working in a start-up environment.

5. You are supported by an experienced coach

While you’re working hard on all those activities and putting an effort in all the tasks that are assigned to you, you’re not always aware of all the learning that happens in the background. But it’s important that you acknowledge it and that you’re able to convert it in words and facts when you face a recruiter or are discussing a promotion with your boss.

You also might have your ups and downs and obviously might find some projects more challenging to manage than others. You might be in the middle of a relocation yourself, or you might come to clash with cultural aspects of your environment that you find hard to cope with.

Among the benefits of an internship at GPT, the par excellence benefit if you ask me, is the coaching you receive from Coach Angie. Having her as a supervisor throughout the six months spent at GPT  was already a blessing and an opportunity for growth that I will always be thankful for. Having her as a personal coach was an emotional and eye-opener experience that made me more aware of who I am, what I need and how I can achieve it. I especially took to heart her charisma and down-to-earth approach.

As I anticipated, these are not the only aspects I praise with regards to my internship at GPT. In fact, the list is still long and if you’re curious to know more about it you can reach out to me personally and I’d be happy to give you more insights.

In a sentence, the experience made me ready to enter the job market with a certain awareness, strengthened competencies and a more well-rounded profile for a junior professional like me.

 

 

Sara
Sara Micacchioni

About the Author

Sara Micacchioni is currently working in the customer care sector where she gets the chance to continue improving her skills as a people’s person in four different languages. She also works as a freelancer in digital marketing for a small start-up specialized in unbiased recruiting and diversity and inclusion projects. As a graduate in Intercultural Management, those are, in fact, topics that Sara keeps close to her heart.

In the past, she also carried out several short-term and long-term voluntary work projects in Europe and South America.

Sara lived, studied, and worked in seven European countries and speaks four foreign languages. She considers herself an interculturalist with a real passion for globetrotting. In her mission to travel the world, she has now ticked off 30 countries globally.

Connect with Sara on LinkedIn

Angie

In 2018 I wrote an article called “Digitizing Your Intercultural Coaching Practice – Ten Steps to a Digital, Global Coaching Practice” which was published in in the SIETAR Europa Journal. Since the publication, I have made further progress and hope to be able to answer your questions on how to deliver digital, intercultural coaching and what it actually means for your business model as a coach, trainer or consultant. Many of the lessons learned work for consulting as well. You probably don’t know this but I spend a large junk of my week working as a Global Mobility Project Manager inside companies. Due to the Pandemic I currently work from home and only go to the client when it is absolutely necessary. Our living room has been converted into a spaceship that could easily compete with the Millenium Falcon. We divided the space in three sections: Eat, Work, Play. Who would have thought that I could convert my “practice” into a fully digital operation in just two years. The only issue I am still struggling with today is that I am using the printer too much. 

Most executive and business coaches I know prefer to work face-to-face with their clients. This is usually possible because classical coaching happens within the same city and like with a therapist a client builds a relationship with a coach over a relatively short period of time to follow certain goals. However, a lot of coaches are passed on between clients based on good old word of mouth. It’s not really a topic you openly write a review about on LinkedIn. Hence, I find it hard to ask my clients to write an honest review. I feel it breaches our confidentiality agreement. 

Digital Intercultural Coaching still is new in the Swiss market. I’ve been running a coaching practice since 2012. My clients are all international and they are all busy global people.

In the early days of my business, I used to travel to a client in Basel for two hours for a 1.5-hour coaching session. I sometimes coached up to 15 clients in one week. That was the maximum I could manage with a good distribution of hours, without exhausting myself completely and with a good quality for the clients. Despite having a 60-hour workweek my income had dropped to one-third of what I had made as a Global Mobility Leader earlier. I know that you have to accept a loss of income in your first two years as a founder but I was not making enough money to survive. I am the breadwinner in the family and Zurich is one of the most expensive cities in the world. The cost of running a physical practice was eating up a lot of the earnings so in 2018 together with my wise accountant we decided to digitalize as much as possible.

In addition to corporate seminars, I offer a job search support group through HireMeExpress and the one-week RockMeRetreat. (Before Corona this was all possible offline, now we needed to reconsider and we offer many programs online via Zoom as well.)

If you want to build a coaching model with potential to scale you need to adopt digital practices in order to serve more clients in a shorter time frame. I had experimented with Skype coaching and other online methods already and I figured out that a lot of my methods would work online too.

The 10-Step Plan to a sustainable Digital, Global Coaching Practice

Step 1: Understand Your Ideal Client

You are not in business for yourself. If you don’t work with a client as in a person who is willing to pay for your services you probably have a hobby. Before you think about your positioning in the market, you should know what your ideal client looks like and how she or he lives and works. It’s a good idea to write a story about your ideal client.

Step 2: Have a Profile on LinkedIn

You need to have an authentic online presence. Even if you work as a freelancer you need to be able to show your qualification and approach online, you need to be able to connect with clients and potential colleagues online. At a minimum you should have a good and solid LinkedIn profile. We have several articles on how to improve this and LinkedIn has courses on it as well. 

Step 3: Own a Mobile-Friendly Website

If your website dates back to 1990 and is not mobile-friendly you should invest in making it mobile friendly. You could easily have a WordPress or google site without investing a lot of money.

Step 4: Work from Home

One advantage of a digital coaching practice is that your practice becomes location-independent. If you now think that you can work from coffee shops and the beach I would say that yes, in principle that is possible. You will still want to take calls from clients but you might be able to have those during specific hours of the day when you are in a disturbance-free area.

If you can work from home without feeling distracted this is your chance to move to the mountain hut you had dreamed about. However, in my experience, you can get lonely quite easily. I prefer to work in the city of Zurich so I can engage in offline networking and still offer physical meetings with my clients when they are close to my office.

You will need a reliable Internet connection in order to hold Skype or Zoom calls. It’s worthwhile to invest in good headsets and a comfortable office chair.

Step 5: Work with an Email Marketing Provider

It took me a long time to figure out the best tools and media for sharing my messages with my clients and readers. I read a lot of blogs and reports and I curate content and events for my readers. They spend time reading interesting posts or watching relevant videos instead of digging through the social media circus. I always enjoyed sharing interesting content and now I use this skill professionally. 

It’s important to understand that despite social media marketing you still need to build an email list with your own clients and prospects. I recommend a two-list approach. One list is for everyone who is vaguely interested in what you do. This is the where you let people join when they sign up on your website for free. In my view, it is mandatory that you have such a sign-up option. In WordPress, you could start with Magic Action Box for example.

You should also have a list of paying clients. This list is important for your targeted marketing campaigns. It’s also possible to “segment” lists if you have several programs to advertise.

Step 6: Invest in tech and your user platform

We developed our own web application called RockMeApp so we could run sessions without the use of paper and in parallel to an online session. Clients can enter their coaching targets and I can follow their weekly progress. There are platforms out there offering similar options but you can obviously not influence their layout and design. If you are just starting you might want to work as a sub-provider first and invest in your own technology later, when you have a better understanding what is out there.

Step 7: Focus on Selected Social Media Channels

I could spend all day on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Youtube. So, I have hired a DIGITAL MEDIA MANAGER to help me. The main reason is that I want to focus on writing content and creating rather than sharing and discussing. With good organization I believe you can spend less than two hours a day on social media.

My advice is that you focus on the channel that speaks to your ideal client the most. I assume that most of my clients hang out on LinkedIn and this platform also serves for connecting clients and contacts with each other. Also, I often find inspiring articles there by following the hashtags I work with. 

Step 8: Organize with a Shared Cloud Drive and Master Sheets

One of the challenges of today is that we all share everything. It is more difficult to find what you need especially if the documents are not tagged correctly. I use a system where I try to sort all my work according to event date because I have a lot of events. I also use names and tags on my documents.

As a shared drive, I work with Google Drive because it allows me to share work with my global, virtual team without having to send emails back and forth. It also works with corporate clients if they use Google Drive. In order to keep overviews of projects and tasks, I developed very simple master sheets in Google Sheets. I like to use sheets as I can post a link (URL) to the relevant document or website there.

We are also using SLACK for our team to message each other and keep track of progress. However, for me (probably because I am Gen X) a simple spreadsheet is a lot easier to work with.

Step 9: Clarify your Purpose and Pivot

One of my main enjoyments in having my own company next to working with incredible Expats, Expat Spouses and Global Mobility Managers is the fact that I have the time and capacity to write and edit. I have been pretty good at maintaining a weekly blog called the “Global People Club Sandwich”. I regularly get requests for guest posts and together with collaborators my company has published two workbooks in different formats and editions. A third workbook “The Global Rockstar Workbook” is in the making.

I am considering a pivot for Global People Transitions into a publishing company, which will develop digital tools for global people in intercultural transitions. However, at the moment I still have a lot to do to fulfil my mission to “bring the Human Touch back into Global Mobility”. Hence, the publishing company probably has to remain a side business in 2021 as well.

Step 10: Use Paper as a Strategy

As mentioned my final step to full digitalisation will be to reduce all the paper in the office. In order to do that, I do not allow myself a large quantity of printing paper in the office. I try to have flyers and seminar presentations and folders printed by professional printing companies in order to be more environmentally conscious.

One of the issues is that I seem to need paper to remember information better. So now I use paper as a strategy, for example, to write “morning pages” or “have-done-lists”. I use paper to write my coaching notes.

To avoid printing, I use “print to .pdf” as a default on my printer and I work on a big screen in my home office so I can reduce the necessity to print.

I have noticed that if I cannot read a document online it might be because they were formatted for print. In that case, it helps to go back to the original source and check if the same article has an online version.

Kind regards

Angie Weinberger

PS: Usually our readers are Expats and Expat Partners. If you aspire to be a digital nomad with a coaching, training or consulting business and you enjoyed this article, please sign up here for more.

Attention through Roses

 

How to get Swiss recruiter’s attention through well-written cover letters and organized testimonials.

Getting a Swiss recruiter’s attention is almost like asking her out on a date. 

When you write a cover letter you want the other person to like you and find you attractive enough to read your resumé. The cover letter is your appetizer and the resumé is your main course. If you get to the interview stage then that’s like having the dessert on the first date. And after three interviews you might get kissed. I mean you might get the job offer you are longing for.

Don’t spoil the Swiss recruiter’s appetite by presenting the main course in the cover letter.

Imagine you are on your first date and your counterpart tells you for half an hour how great he or she is. Rather boring right? You zoom out of the conversation and wish to run away. Same is true if a recruiter reads your whole resumé already in the cover letter.

What could you do to make the conversation more interesting?

Cover letter writing is an art. With modern technology, applicants often do not see a need to write a cover letter these days but in my own opinion, it is the most artistic part of a good application. Emphatically,  in Switzerland, IT’S A MUST.

Many recruiters want to read it. They would like to see you made an effort to get that interview. I receive a number of cover letters and most of them sound like they were copied from a textbook. Nobody gets excited reading some sort of ‘copy and paste’ write-ups that are void of personal touch.  Only the more personal ones gain my attention. They have to be personal, crisp and show me who you are.

Here are rules for fresh cover letters:

  • Use the correct name of the recruiter instead of Sir or Madam. Take out time to research the recruiter’s name. This portrays you as serious. Make sure you also spell names of references correctly. Be respectful and address recruiters formally.
  • Make the letter appealing and nice looking by using one font only and adhering to normal letter writing style in the country you are applying to.
  • Speak about the needs of the other party before you speak about your needs. This is so important because the prospective job is about what you can bring to the table.
  • Find a personal connection between either you and the company or you and the recruiter. Maybe you use one of their products or you associate positive feelings with the brand because of a personal story.
  • If you copy and paste (which is not a good idea in general), please check that you did not use the wrong company name or contact person. It helps to read the letter out loud.
  • Use active language and full sentences. When I say active language I ask you to use more verbs than nouns, avoid passive constructs and keep sentences short.
  • If you are not an English native speaker check your translation and let a native speaker review your grammar. Most recruiters get pissed off identifying grammatical errors in cover letters.
  • Be brief and stick to a maximum of one page. Five paragraphs are sufficient.
  • Add your contact data in the last paragraph especially your phone number and email ID. Make sure your email sounds respectable and the name is memorable. Email addresses like ‘nancysexy@gmail.com’ are not acceptable.
  • Avoid slang and casual writing style. You are a professional so behave like one! Even if you are from Generation Y or Game, remember that this is a letter and not a chat. The person you want to date might be the age of your parents.
  • A lot of applications still do not get that this is the whole purpose of the cover letter. I also recommend brainstorming exercises to my clients on why they want to work in the role and the company before they start writing a fresh letter. (You can read all about it in “The Global Career Workbook” or you can join our HireMeExpress program.)

Send convincing testimonials

In Switzerland and Germany work certificates, references and testimonials are usually summarized with the word “Zeugnisse“. They are required for any job application. Some employers only request them once you are offered a job, others want to see them when you send your initial application. When a job advertisement asks you to hand in your “complete documentation” or “dossier”, then you should include all your work certificates, references, and testimonials

Helpful types of work certificates, references, and testimonials

1) Work certificates and confirmations 

Show proof from all your previous employment. Here we expect to see a qualitative element in them explaining what you do well and how you performed in your job. If you apply from abroad, request a three liner from your previous employer confirming the times you have worked for them and a contact person who will give a reference. If you only have names of referees make sure they expect to be called by the potential employer.

2) Certificates of language certifications and seminars

Our assumption is that the more additional training you have undertaken, the better you are at your job. Even if the certification is a bit older it is worthwhile adding it to your file. Make sure all foreign language certifications are translated into English.

3) University and high school diplomas

Usually, the last diploma and transcript are required. If your marks do not translate into German try to give an explanation on a separate sheet. Please note that even Switzerland and Germany have completely opposite grading systems so it is always good to explain (1.3 in Germany is excellent, in Switzerland, it is a fail).

4) Client testimonials and performance reviews

If you have a chance and it is not against any confidentiality agreements you can add client testimonials and even your performance reviews in your file. It is often more credible to hear words of praise of others than your own. You can ask your former clients and managers to edit and sign a draft that you send to them so they know exactly what you would like them to confirm about you. To make it easy for the recruiter I would advise you sort the testimonials in chronological order and give an overview on a cover page too. Scan all docs in one pdf and make sure that the file size is not more than 2MB as a lot of recruiting platforms won’t accept bigger files. If you do not have all your documents together yet mention on the cover page when you will hand them in.

HireMeExpress – From desperate to confident as a Minority Expat Partner. 

HireMeExpress is the online course that will get you from desperate to carving out an income and feeling at home in your new country.

Sign up here to find out everything you need to know in order to land a job in Switzerland or another market you are not familiar with. We will send you our 19 Fresh Resume Checkpoints and further material such as videos. In case you have any questions you can email us via angela@globalpeopletransitions.com.

Is there anything I could help you with?

You probably despise networking. You think of networking as wasting time and you don’t like to go to events with no direct outcome. Are you appalled by “coffee meetings” with people who never plan to support you but happily take your free advice? Know that feeling?

You probably heard me say this before: For me, time has an immense value and since I started my business I’ve come to the conclusion that I have three major priorities: 1) My health, 2) My time and 3) My support group (including my family and partner). Without these you cannot run a successful company of one.

In order to use my time effectively and to the best possible outcome, I am constantly reviewing my “networking” strategy and have become very strategic about building connections in a way that suits me but also generates business. At the same time with recent health challenges, working from home and restrictions on events I had to think of other ways to “network the network”. The term “working the net” already indicates that there is work involved in building and maintaining mutually beneficial business relationships. AND while this comes natural to expats and other people from more relationship-based cultures, it requires energy for people from strictly task-based cultures.

The secret to making peace with “networking” as I often explain in my talks and workshops such as “#Networking4Nerds” is to treat your business relationships similar to other friendships and to be a giver.

Here are my five recipes for working your net:

1) Connect those who would not meet

A big benefit of being a networking queen or king is that you can organize connections. Think about who would need to know whom in your network in order to move ahead one step with one of their issues. Maybe a friend needs a new job or a business contact wants a new client or needs to solve an immediate problem at hand. Risk a little discomfort. Set them up for a “Professional Blind Date”. Trust your judgement and see what happens.

Over the last few years I have made several professional introductions. Mainly I helped my clients to find jobs that they would otherwise not even know. I also benefit from introductions so I try to keep the karma of connections spinning. 

2) Accept that Relationships require work

As in a good marriage you want to keep the relationship alive by making it beneficial for both parties. Once you know too many people you might just react once you are asked but even a small advice to a junior colleague might help them to move ahead in their career or move out of a job where they have stopped to learn.

A lot of professionals I know have lost the ability to trust their managers and colleagues. Being a mentor for a more junior professional in your industry can be really motivating for this person.

3) Share your knowledge and expertise graciously

There has never been a time where too much knowledge was hurtful. It’s also impossible to shock people with well-written report summaries or other insights you have about your industry. Start posting on LinkedIn. Tell people what you know and how you view the trends. In a worst-case scenario you get a negative comment. Be bold and bring in your unique perspective to the world.

4) Help others and increase your self-esteem

It sounds like a boy/girl-scout value but “a good deed a day keeps the shrink away”. When you help your contacts then you will feel more self-respect and wake up with a smile on your face. It always makes me so happy when a client tells me they found a job they love or that a connection was really helpful.

It’s even more fun to just support people in your network (for FREE). Give them likes, +1, endorsements, retweets and hearts when you are not paid for it. It’s a great way to give people appreciation and we all could get a bit more of that especially in the corporate world.

5) Challenge yourself and treat networking as a game

I often ask my clients to set a networking target. That includes that they must give before they take. It could be a small weekly challenge such as meeting a person you never met for a coffee. You could also offer to connect someone to someone else because you know they share a theme, hobby or interest.

These connections really seem to bring out most amazing collaborations. You obviously want to ask permission before sharing details. You could implement a score card on your whiteboard and whenever you helped a connection you add a smiley there. Imagine how that will make YOU feel.

 

If you would like to know more and keep updated on how to find work in a new market sign up here to join our HireMeExpress Waiting List.

Christmas

The holiday season is upon us, I am sure most of us are ready for a well-deserved break from work. We all feel a bit more exhausted this year from working from home and being digital all day.

Do you also need a break from being online all the time?

We face unseen travel restrictions this year. This could lead to you being alone or with your partner and kids only this year on Christmas. While you might want to be with your extended family in (insert home country) you are holidaying in Zurich, Switzerland.

(Not the worst of places to be but it can get a bit lonely if you don’t know what to do.)

While the holidays may be a time of joy and happiness for most people, they can be quite bittersweet for expats.

Maybe you have lost loved ones around the holidays. Maybe you are no longer close with your extended family and your friends are all married with kids.

In Zurich, there is a high likelihood that you haven’t made any close friends yet. It could also be that like one of my friends you are in the middle of your next move and taking time off isn’t an option. You can check our relocation guide for ideas.

So, if you are worried a little about how to handle the holidays here are our ideas for the holidays on your own.

“The 12 Days of Christmas” – Alone in Zurich

Although technically the 12 days of Christmas don’t start until 25 December, we will approach this topic creatively. I also understand that the 12 nights are more important in tradition and mythology and it depends on which sources you read.

Here the first magic night is on 20 December “Thomasnacht”.

This year you have a good chance to have two weeks off with a small amount of vacation days or overtime compensation. Also, many Swiss companies close over this 2-week period now.

Before starting on this topic I would like to invite every reader and client who is not Christian to enjoy the fun around our holiday traditions with us. Full self-disclosure: I come from a catholic background and I live in a relationship with a non-practicing Muslim. I usually only go to mass on Christmas Eve with my grandmother, because I know it makes her happy, but this year I am not even sure I can see my family. I might just stay here with you.

Being a Christian means to me to be a good human and about giving to others and yourself. In my opinion, it doesn’t really matter what your faith is as long as you aspire to do good in the world. And if you only believe in science or the force I like you as well.

Christmas is also a time where we connect with our inner child and give this child all the love it deserves. By honoring special traditions and rituals around the 12 days of Christmas we collect the energy that we need to be supportive of each other.

21 December: Collaboration Day
No office parties this year and no secret Santas. If you are still at work, try to appreciate one of your work colleagues and give them an hour of your time in a virtual coffee session. In our culture we tend to forget to celebrate the success and value collaboration. So try to appreciate this one colleague you worked with this year and send them a hand-written thank you card after your call.

Order your Christmas menu. For example, order meat and bread in advance, so you just have to pick it up on Christmas eve.

22 December: Decoration Day
Buy a Christmas tree at Bahnhof Stadelhofen or in your neighbourhood. Put on a youtube mix or your favorite music and decorate your Christmas tree. Make a special ornament by yourself. Go offline for crafting If you have been in a work frenzy in the build up to the holidays you probably want nothing more than switching off. Tag us when you share photos on Instagram.

Also, this is your chance for last minute shopping. The big shops will probably still be full. Wear masks and support your neighbourhood shops instead of going to Jelmoli.

23 December: Catch up Day
Catch up with old friends via video chat. Being stuck in a foreign country during the holidays is never ideal, more so if you don’t have family or friends there. A luxury not afforded to pre-internet expats, but still in no way a replacement for family and friends, is video chat. While not the ideal replacement for the people you are missing, it can allow you to keep in near-constant touch and keep the holiday spirit fresh in you. In fact, this can also be a perfect time to reconnect with old friends and catch up.

Do all your laundry because you cannot wash between Christmas and New Year. We call this time “zwischen den Jahren” (between the years). I like this expression and did a bit of research.

***
24 December: Giving Day

Read a novel to an elderly citizen on Christmas Eve. I’ve never spent Christmas Eve alone as far as I can remember. You probably know that I come from a big family and I hardly find time to see all my relatives.

If I am in Zurich on Christmas Eve, I will do my grocery shopping for three days and then use the chance to read to someone. In my neighbourhood I often see lonely elderly people.

There is also a shelter for homeless people and you could volunteer there. Or check with your religious community if you can help a child with a present. I’m sure you will find a way to help someone less fortunate.

25 December: Christmas Day

After you opened all your presents you could organize yourself a walking tour of Zurich with a lovely Christmas dinner at a cozy place like Rosaly’s or Wilder Mann. Probably you could meet a few lonely hearts in Bohemia. I would probably check if I could get a ticket for the opera or the Schauspielhaus. Despite the limited numbers they seem to be open.

26 December: Boxing Day

I don’t know why it’s called Boxing Day in English. Maybe it’s time to put a few things in boxes? Or box away the calories? My grandmother calls this day “Stephanstag”. This is a holiday in Zurich and shops are closed so you could plan a spa day or go outside. For example, take the S-Train to Greifensee and walk around the lake for a while.

Later, you should go to one of the nicest hotels in Zurich for afternoon tea and sip a glass of champagne.

27 December: Skiing Day

Why don’t you go to the mountains and check out if there is a chance for a skiing day. One of the lesser known places would be Hoch-Ybrig.

***

28 December: Clean up the (Home) Office Day

If your office is open use the chance to clean up. Update your LinkedIn profile with Nabeha’s tips. It’s time to review your work year. Write down one big accomplishment for every month or check the reporting facility in our RockMeApp. Send me a summary of what you are most proud of this year.

Have lunch with a poor colleague from HR, Accounting or IT who has to work in the office and wants to get home. With a cup of hot cocoa (or Gluehwein, if that’s allowed) start to clean up your desk.

  • Throw out old files,
  • Clean up your computer,
  • Update your task lists,
  • Prepare your performance reviews,
  • Order that new work phone and
  • Pay all your outstanding invoices.

Maybe you still have personal administrative tasks to do. My advice is to use the “Pomodoro” technique to start working on the task for 25 minutes.

29 December: Wish Day

For me this will be the day where I write down everything I’m grateful for in my life and what my wishes are for 2020. Join us for “Star Wars” or pick a movie and go to KOSMOS zurich or another movie theatre you usually don’t go to. Enjoy an “apéro” at YAMAS Zurich, the little Greek restaurant with a flair of the meatpacking district and Greek hospitality.

Don’t forget to stock up on groceries. If you’re like me, you probably have an empty fridge by now.

30 December: Pamper Day

No matter what gender you identify with, we all have a need for a pamper day at least once a year. Book an appointment at your favourite spa and enjoy the treatment. PURE zurich is great for that. If you still feel stressed you might want to get a massage from Pascale at CHINADOC.

These days the Bahnhofstrasse isn’t as crowded as usual, so you could also go to the city and buy a new outfit. Maybe with style advice from Rowena Downing.

31 December: Let Go Day

Take a leisurely stroll on Lake Zurich to Zurichhorn, a boat trip or if it’s raining take the tram 8 to Hardturm and check out the furniture and design stores near Prime Tower. Go up to the bar prime tower and enjoy the view.

It’s time to let go.  With your diary write down everything you wish to leave in the old year and join me for writing and a glass of champagne at the Savoy Bar around 3 PM. If you are into it please text me so I know you will be there.

Even if you can’t party order yourself a special dinner for tonight.

1 January 21: Welcome the New Year Day

Start the New Year with sleeping in as long as you can, watch your favorite movies or bing-watch a series. Be lazy for once.

I hope you enjoyed my tips and I look forward to meeting you in 2021.

Happy Holidays!

Angie and Team

PS: Check out those great blogs for more ideas: newinzurich and girlfriend guide to zurich.