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Helping expat spouses to fit in

In Switzerland it’s hard to settle in and make friends, according to a new expat survey. But help is at hand for expat spouses to speed up integration. (SRF/

The Expat Insider 2017 survey was published by InterNationsExternal link, the “largest expat network in the world”. According to this, when it comes to being made to feel welcome, Switzerland does very badly, ranked 61st out of 65 countries. 

Expats in Switzerland consider the locals reserved (78%), distant (57%), traditional (64%) and not very dynamic (54%). One US respondent said “people in Switzerland are friendly but are not actually looking for friends”.

But there is help available for expat spouses, at least. In Zug, for instance, the local authorities offer courses on Swiss customs and how the local schools work. Many companies even provide jobs for spouses or engage external companies to help them find work. 

In Basel, all foreigners who move to the city are invited for welcome chats, where they learn about the importance of the German language, local customs and integration services. Basel’s immigrants are also allowed to attend free German lessons during their first year.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR