July 20, 2018

Expat with Kids Recipes

My friends know I have a passion for blogging. My Paris blog is a home for all my photos - because you cannot stroll though Paris without taking pictures - as well as an outlet to share my Parisian adventures with the world.

To keep a close link to Switzerland I have also continued my original Lugano blog Expat with Kids, a funky lifestyle website for the English speaking community in Lugano that began back in 2010 as the first English online Ticino guide.

Only few know, that tucked away I own a third blog called Expat with Kids Recipes. I adore recipes and have been collecting them since my teens. A giveaway to my Swiss upbringing is that I have been a loyal subscriber to Betty Bossi since 1996. My recipe blog came to life since I decided to have all my favourite recipes in one place and available online to wherever I travel.

As of late, I have decided to blow some wind into its sails and have revamped the site entirely.

Expat with Kids Recipes are a mix of origins true to my own heritage and travels. You'll find Swiss, American, British, Italian and French recipes. My faible for the Caribbean is also quite apparent in my choice of exotic recipes.

The one thing they all have in common is that they are easy and fast to prepare. Simple ingredients and straight forward directions keep it hassle free and tasty!

My biggest success is definitely the Italian Tiramisù recipe. So, tell me, which is your favourite?

July 18, 2018

A panoramic view of Madrid

One of the glories of having friends to stay is that you are obliged to at least give them a taste of the city no matter how hot it might be. Let's face it... I won't make my teenagers visit the Prado or any other museum during the summer hols in a town they call home... therefore the next best option is a double decker bus tour around the entire city.

At 35°C under the burning sun, equipped with sun hat and Spanish hand fans, we settled on the top deck of the bright red Madrid City Tour Bus as not to miss a thing listening to the guide through our red headphones. Turns out Expat daughter decided to listen in Chinese to see how much she would understand having studied the language for four years. One of her friends listen in German, the other in English and I opted for the Spanish version. Who would have thought the guided bus tour could also turn into a language lesson? 

The advantage of sitting on the top of a double decker bus is the marvellous panoramic view...

... allowing for a whole new perspective...

... and I like what I am seeing.

Unarguably the most beautiful building in Madrid is "Correos"!
Originally used as the headquarters of the national postal service of Spain, the building now serves as the seat of the Madrid City Council.

Shutters are kept closed in order to keep out the heat.

At over a hundred years old, the Gran Via, is one of the city’s main arteries and one of its most iconic avenues.

Its construction, between 1910 and 1931, marked the beginning of the modernisation of the city, with the appearance of the country's first skyscrapers and the adoption of modern architectural trends originating in the United States.

The Palace is an iconic hotel that has thrived since its opening in 1912. With 500 suites it was Europe's largest hotel at the time and the first to offer in suite bathrooms along with a telephone in every room.

Siesta time

July 14, 2018

What's it really like to be an Expat Wife

Something's been bugging me terribly over the past two days... a podcast that has been doing the rounds amongst my Expat friends. Now, I usually don't get worked up about small details but somehow this Conde Nast Traveler's podcast struck a nerve... and not a good one!

Entitled "Women Who Travel Podcast: What It's Really Like to Move Abroad" the podcast's guest chat about the many highs (and lows) that come with living an ocean away from home, what it really takes to move abroad in the first place (and in some cases what made us decide to stay), and explore why the word "expat" itself is a problematic term.

It made me realize just how big the Expat generational gap is between the women who spearheaded through unknown territory before the internet access and those who sailed on the net into (nearly) any country on the globe with most information at the tip of their fingers before even setting foot in it.

We had to figure it ALL out without Google, Facebook groups or WhatsApp chats when we started off. These ladies don't even want to call themselves Expats because it seems an unfair word?!?

Women who travel are not automatically Expat women. A language exchange does not make you an Expat. Teaching English abroad for a few months does not make you an Expat. Following a boyfriend to another country does not necessarily make you an Expat wife. Yes, an Expat wife is a term I am proud to call myself surrounded by many awesome Expat women and connecting with local and global Expat networks.

Border crossing to keep your visa is NOT to be considered... such a bad idea on so many different levels.

So ladies, please stop generalizing and do your research: An expatriate is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country other than their native country. The term often refers to professionals, skilled workers, or artists taking positions outside their home country, either independently or sent abroad by their employers (companies, universities, governments, or non-governmental organisations).

Immigration is the international movement of people into a destination country of which they are not natives or where they do not possess citizenship in order to settle or reside there.

Yes, we miss our National food and feel homesick, however, we come to terms that we have chosen the Expat lifestyle (through work or love). We have kids who might feel home is a different place to ours and that sometimes hurts. The ultimate Expat experience is actually giving birth in a foreign country.

Towards the end of the podcast the ladies touch on the big secret of being an Expat without even realizing it: it's a little thing called sharing.

Sharing is the best quality of an Expat. This does not mean connecting because you share the same language or similar personal experiences because you come from the same place. Expats share for the sake of helping others!!! They share their knowledge, offer advice, and happily give out their secret tips.

According to current estimates, there are over 8 Million company transferred Expats worldwide. Still only 1 out of 4 is female. The majority of women living abroad are Expat partners who joined their husband on this adventure abroad. The Expat network empowers and supports the millions of Expat Women worldwide who have been brave enough to quit their job and joint their partner on his adventure abroad.

Here's to all my fellow Expat wives and partners, may we keep on supporting each other in a community that I am proud to be a member of!

July 10, 2018

It's official, we have a third campus!

"Oh my God the new campus is so cool."

When during your holidays you are hanging out in your living room on a hot summer afternoon taking a break from the sun and you hear one of your daughter's friends making that comment about the Instagram account, you know the school has nailed it.

After years of planning, months of negotiations and weeks of refurbishing to make the three buildings in the center of Paris fit for purpose, the moment has finally arrived...

... last week the "Commission de Sécurité" gave the school management an "avis favorable" for the opening of its new campus.

I cannot describe how delighted I am to receive this news after much hard work by many people over these past years. Bravo to the Head of School and the Board for committing the school to the project. An immense appreciation goes to the Leadership team for poring over the plans and moving things along. The IT team, the building maintenance, the departmental teams and even the students were all instrumental in designing and creating the learning spaces.

The "avis favorable" was a very important step in the project, as it means that the school now has the formal authorisation that the building is fit to house a school. The new Middle School campus will open its door in September to students from Grade 6 to Grade 9.

It's official! The Cortambert Campus has officially been cleared for opening! We have ourselves a third campus!

July 7, 2018

When a number changes your life

Yesterday I realised there is yet another emotion Expat parents share, no matter which country you are in... the IB results! Over 165,000 students from 2799 schools across the globe received their Diploma (DP) and Career-related Programme (CP) results.

As the International Baccalaureate celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, students from across the world received the results of their May 2018 IB diploma exams yesterday at 2pm GMT. Many a student was sitting on needles along with their parents waiting for the announcement upon which a crucial decision rested... will they have the required points to access their first choice higher education? It is a life-deciding moment that all IB students share across the globe. Luckily for most it is good news since the IB is all about inclusive education.

The IB believes that an inclusive education is something every IB World School should embrace and work towards. Students should be prepared to exercise their rights as citizens and take their responsibilities in the wider community. The IB Learner Profile implies a commitment to help all members of the school community to learn to respect themselves and others, as well as the world around them. Inclusivity then is larger than a recognition of cultural diversity. 

In this first session of 2018, more than 607,000 examination papers - the largest number since the introduction of the Diploma Programme in 1968 - were processed in 75 languages. Yes, that would be seventy-five languages! Over 13,000 examiners across the world worked together to establish accurate, internationally-benchmarked grading criteria across subjects, and ensure consistency throughout the evaluation process.

The average diploma point score globally was 29.78 (of 45 possible maximum) but the kids' school in Paris achieved a significantly higher average with a very healthy 34 points... 

... and a special shout out goes to an exceptional young lady who has hit one out of the ball park and straight into our family's hearts! You go girl!

Congratulations and well done class of 2018. So proud of you all! Good luck to all IB graduates in their future plans.

A souvenir from Expat boy's graduation: Class of 2017

July 5, 2018

Pit Stop with Pintxos

Paris to Madrid by car equals 1250 km in roughly 12h50min. according to Google maps. Well, I love to drive but there are limits. Therefore, every year we make a little treat out of our long journey South and stop in San Sebastian.

The identity of San Sebastián as a seaside resort began over a century ago, when this wild stretch of Atlantic coast was favored by Spanish royals on holiday. Since then, Donostia as the city is known in Basque, has also established itself as a world-class gastro-paradise. In 2016 it was even nominated European Capital of Culture, whereafter the city has begun to reinvent itself as a cultural destination.

The moment you arrive in San Sebastián, La Concha beach invites you for a dip or a pleasant stroll along the shore, even when the weather is bad. It is a great way to relax after a 9 hour car ride. At which point we have earned our world famous pintxos (a variety of small snacks typically eaten in bars), for which every bar in the Old Town is a treasure trove. And of course, the Tinto de verano cannot be missing either!

La Concha de San Sebastian...

... when the tide is out!

Calling it a day

Off to the old town in search of some pintxos.

A typical Spanish scene... 

... all that is left after a delicious meal.

Strolling back along the Concha towards our hotel feeling happy.

July 2, 2018

On the road again...

Same as every year... we hit the road to escape the big city heading South in search of the sun... and when you see the first Osbourne bull you know you've nearly reached your destination...  1250 km and every single kilometre is worth it! Viva Espana!

June 28, 2018

When your drama teacher leads you to UNESCO

When your daughter receives an invitation through her Drama teacher to take part at a conference hosted at the UNESCO headquarters you know her school is awesome!

PERFORM stands for Participatory Engagement with Scientific and Technological Research through Performance. This programme explores a participatory educational process on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) through the use of the arts. I just wish they had such cool workshops when I was studying science back in the days...

During the two-day conference, scientific researchers, performers and young people from all backgrounds worked together to develop performance-based activities. The idea being that collaboration will increase young people's engagement with science, its values and the processes of research.

Expat Girl and her peers were coached to imagine and develop performing arts activities on scientific topics of their interest, collaborating with young researchers, professional communicators and their teachers.

Not only were the girls ask to work on different subjects but also could choose which language to use: English, Spanish or French. When global education is linked to girl power the sky is the limit and the next generation is fully aware of this fact.
Let them spread their wings without loosing their roots!

Meanwhile Mummy is enjoying a yoga session on a roof top... only in Paris!

June 27, 2018

Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened!

We talk about how children need to learn how to be resilient ... well, it is that capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, that ability to spring back into shape that I lean on when the end of the school year draws close.

By the time June rolls around bitter-sweet feelings start rising in the knowledge that - yet again - our family will have to say goodbye to people who a few years ago were perfect strangers but whom, over a little timespan, have become the next best thing to family; for the shortest distance between new friends is a smile.

It is hard at the best of times watching your kids wave a tearful goodbye to their buddies but does it get easier?

Yes and no. I brace myself every year thinking this time will be easier since we've been though this exercise soooo many times. And then it hits me, usually on a beautiful sunny day. I wake up feeling blue, my heart is heavy and I know I will be spending all day fighting back those tears. It might not even be the day we bid our farewells but the sadness sits inside of me and there it will remain until the last day of school.

I don't get as emotional as I used to and I believe it is the resilience and the resistance that you acquire by seeing friends depart year after year. You learn how to handle the hurt, you manage your reactions and you focus on the good side of things.

I consider myself lucky to have made many a precious friendship over the past decades and I am grateful to have met exceptional people. For it is the ability to find meaning in friendship that makes it all worth the effort. It is the realization that no matter how far away they move, you have shared a chapter of your life with them. As Anais Nin says so nicely: "Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born."

June 25, 2018

Window Shopping La Croisette

For a small town, Cannes is big on luxury shopping. Indeed, Cannes might just as well survive on the world tourist map exclusively by the wonderful shops hosted along La Croisette. So, if sunbathing sessions do not represent the best way of spending time you can think of, it is highly likely that the next best thing to opt for is shopping.

My friends will know that sunbathing is much farther up on my list of pampering than shopping but as the heat of the day had ebbed to a comforting warmth and the sunshine had lost its brightness, the family could not resist a stroll down La Croisette for some window shopping after dinner. 

However, I remain adamant, never underestimate the power of a good tan on a bad day!

La Croisette by night

A peculiar Louis Vuitton window display...

... but their courtyard garden is beautiful.

Gucci is in the pink...

... and features a pretty kinky interior deco

Chanel in black and white

Yves Saint Laurent with its eternal elegance.

Hermès gone minimalist.

Philip Plein... definitely not my cup of tea!

Just saying!

June 24, 2018

A summer day in Geneva

 A hot summer day in Geneva and I cannot get enough of the colours and sights...

A ferris wheel in Geneva ... this is new?!?

The Île Rousseau is an island and park in Geneva, situated in the middle of the Rhone.

Who said the Swiss weren't welcoming?

The world-famous Jet d'Eau dates back to the 19th century. Its white plume rises 140m into the air from a stone jetty on the lakeside at Eaux-Vives; that is about 50m higher than the Statue of Liberty.

Turned on each morning by caretakers whose job it is to keep the fountain working, the Jet d'Eau is one of the city's most famous landmarks.

View from Bains des Pâquis onto the Cathedral and Geneva's city center

Flashback from my childhood... Hero Confi in little portions!

A simple healthy Swiss breakfast 

A touch of luxury spotted everywhere you go...

... but a pink vintage Jaguar just takes the cake!

My white chocolate mousse in form of cheese surrounded by meringue mice is a close second! 

Geneva is also wine country. Chateau du Crest - a castle built in 1222 - is one of the largest privately owned farm in the country, and grows more than 18 different varieties of grapes including Chasselas, Gamay, Riesling-Sylvaner, Pinot Black, Gamaret and less common varieties like Malbec and Muscat. The vintners in the Château du Crest fields practice an unusually meticulous handwork to care for their strategically planted low vines with high density yield.

Hanging out with old friends enjoying the view, the sunset and a glass of Dôle Blanche... 
... life couldn't be better!

June 23, 2018

Where I feel right at home again

When various events fall into place and they align perfectly with your agenda it provides the irresistible excuse to squeeze yet another little trip between a weekend away and the summer exodus starting next week.

Expat hubby travelling, Expat boy at university and Expat girl taken care of, I am off for a four day trip to Geneva.

This city was my home for nearly ten years and it will always have a special place in my heart. It is where I felt at home for the first time after never having quite fit in with Zürich. Here, all my peers were Swiss born of foreign parents and no explaining was needed why you called Switzerland your home eventhough you spoke a language other than Swiss German or French at home, we all did!

My career began in Geneva and I had a brilliant start. Through work I met a charming Neapolitan and we got marrried in Geneva before starting our Expat adventures.

I have kept a handful of loyal friends and many fond memories of my time in Geneva and although it has been two decades since we left I am happy to see that some things never change...

... unconditional friendship and ... Bains des Pâquis!

Geneva at its best!

The Anglican Church where we got married 20 years ago

Postcard picture

On my way to Pâquis plage

My old playground still looks the same...

... heading for a swim with the ducks!
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