Category Archives: Zurich Kids

Baby Showers At The Hotel Eden Au Lac In Zurich

Although baby showers are more specifically an American pastime, they are gaining in popularity in Europe, especially as the expat communities expand and bring their own traditions with them. If you are planning a baby shower for yourself or a friend, the Hotel Eden au Lac has just launched an offering specifically geared to making sure the celebration is a memorable one. The location itself is beautiful. The minimum number of guests is eight and the Hotel is offering: 


    • Private room with guaranteed exclusiveness especially booked for you, all the options for a baby shower party are given


    • Delicious homemade appetizers (finger sandwiches, cup cakes, scones, english cake, chocolate brownies, pistachio biscuits & muffins)


    • Fresh fruit juices, mineral water, soft drinks, tea and coffee à discrétion


    • 1 glas of prosecco per person


    • Cute decoration and entertaining games (ABC list, what size has Mom’s belly, etc.)


All starting from a very reasonable 49CHF per person. More details can be found in the brochure.

Enjoy Zurifest 2013

Call it Zurifest, Zurifaescht or whatever you please, Zurich’s tri-annual celebration is almost upon us and we present a quick rundown of what is going on and how you can join in the fun. It all kicks off on Friday July 5th at 17:00, with festivities running non-stop until midnight on Sunday the 7th. The highlight will, as always, be the the fireworks displays that take place from 22:30 to 23:00 on the Friday and Saturday. In between is a non-stop festival of fun and activity for all ages, all organised with the usual high standards of Stadt Zurich. Some of the highlights:


    • Mine train along General Guisan-Quai and Mythenquai
    • Night time gongola rides at Sechseläutenplatz
    • Family paradise creche
    • Latin show from Caliente
    • Tightrope walks between cathedral spires
    • High diving shows
    • Car and bike shows

I especially like the fact that Zurich is really committed to a round-the-clock festival so that families and party-goers alike can join in the fun. there is plenty to do for kids and once the little ones reach bedtime, it’s time for night owls to enjoy the Party Mile and market stalls. Tickets for premium seating are available where you can get good seats to watch the fireworks from Mythenquai. Tickets cost 45CHF per seat on the Friday or Saturday. Note that you are not allowed to bring your own food and drink. Our Tipp: Many employers who have offices in and around the Bellevue / Bürkliplatz area open their buildings to allow members of staff and their families to view the fireworks from the roof. It’s worth checking if this is available to you. All info on Zurifest 2013 is available in German from this site.

St Patrick’s Day In Zurich

Nualan O’Brien is Irish and living and working in Zürich. She works for We all know the festival, but do we know the man who gave his name to the date? And what did he do with the shamrock? St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. While he is called a Saint, he was never formerly canonised by the Catholic Church. He got sort of “voted” in as a Saint by the Irish through popular acclaim. As a result the 17th March is the unofficial global “Let’s celebrate Irishness” day- celebrated  all over the world from a week long festival in Dublin, Ireland, a dyed-green river in Chicago, USA and street parades in Sydney, Australia. While St. Patrick’s day is mostly associated with revelry:  Irish bars, drinking and dancing – the 17th of March or “St. Patrick’s day”  is a day which marks the death of a Scottish-born missionary called Patrick – who converted “pagan” Ireland to Catholicism. (And Ireland is still predominantly Roman Catholic to this day). While we all enjoy the festivities, our hard-working Irish missionary would no doubt not approve of the “Paddy’s day” rituals  which are mostly associated with this day. It is a coldy ironic “back, back to the start” kind of Cheryl Cole pagan theme going on. St. Patrick the man and the shamrock (387 – 461 AD):  St. Patrick was born in Kilpatrick, Scotland, 387 AD.  At the age of 14, he was captured and taken to Ireland as a slave to herd sheep. During this time, he developed a strong faith in God – even though Ireland was a so-called “land of pagans and tribes”. He escaped aged 20 after God appeared to him in a dream telling him to leave Ireland by the coast. Being the persuasive fellow, he talked his way onto a ship and some sailors took him to Britain. Another dream told him that the people of Ireland were calling out to him to return to make Ireland holy. He subsequently became a priest, and then a bishop. He returned to Ireland in 433 where he and his disciples succeeded in preaching the Gospel throughout Ireland, converting many to Catholicism (and surviving death attempts).  St. Patrick was a missionary in Ireland for 40 years, until he died on March 17, 461. And the shamrock?  While the four-leaved shamrock or “clover” is often associated with the “luck of the Irish”, it was St. Patrick who used the three-leaved shamrock to explain the catholic concept of the “Holy Trinity”, namely the Catholic belief that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit – all in the one entity.  Along with the harp, the shamrock is now considered the national emblem and is used in many logos including aerlingus (the national airline carrier) and the Irish Tourist office. Legend has it that St. Patrick also banished snakes from the island of Ireland. But with Ireland being the lovely, friendly- but rather rainy and not terribly reptile-friendly place – that is debatable. As a good theologian would tell you, snakes are a symbol for paganism. And as the Irish – a nation famous for writers, musicians and entertaining folk generally would be inclined to say, “and sure – why let the truth get in the way of a good story?” Things to do in Zurich this St. Patrick’s Day  Live Music in Paddy Reilly’s  Talstrasse 82  Or Check out Zurich’s newest Irish bar   Freischuetzgasse 14, 8004 Zurich , Switzerland  Other useful links.  The Irish Week long Festival  (

Finding Childcare In Zurich

We were contacted by Tanya at Rockmybaby, offering professional childcare services in Zurich and Schaffhausen. We asked her for some helpful tips on interviewing and employing a nanny. 

Employing a nanny for the first time can be nerve-wracking for some.

Understanding the role of a nanny, preparing for an employee, conducting interviews and establishing an open, professional relationship are all things that any employer can do to help make employing a nanny a success. Interviewing your nanny:

    • Inform the nanny about your family life and children,
    • Describe the job description,
    • Ask the nanny to tell you about herself, and what she is looking for in a new job,
    • Go through the nanny’s CV in detail, asking her to describe each nanny position and why she left,
    • Run through a list of questions relating to the nanny’s abilities as a childcare,
    • Views on discipline, activities for the children etc,
    • Ask the nanny if she has any specific questions,
    • Encourage the nanny to ask questions.
    • Call your best candidates back for a second interview. Give them a chance to spend some time with your children, to go through the finer details and any outstanding questions they may have.

Finally, trust your intuition. Contact Tanya for any of your childcare related needs on 043 4440978 / 079 6609307 or email on  This article is not intended as an endorsement or recommendation. It is up to you to perform your own checks into prospective childcare providers.

Culture Stress: Long-Term Impact On The Health Of Expats

What is culture-stress and how does it impact on people’s health?

John Bowlby (1907-1990) was an internationally renowned psychiatrist and the father of ‘attachment theory’. In one of his famous lectures, he stated:

A particular clinical and research problem is that disturbed individuals seem often to maintain more than one working model both of the world and of the self in it. Such multiple models, moreover, are frequently incompatible with each other and can be more or less conspicuous.

Although John Bowlby was not referring specifically to culture-stress in this lecture, his statement accurately captures what can happen to people who integrate more than one culture into their minds and their lives. Under the surface, they become confused about their values, their identity and how they should think and behave. This can create deeply-seated stress, as we will see below.Over the past twenty-five years, two different Swiss organisations have been observing the effects of stress and culture-stress on people and families, including ex-pats living in Switzerland.


    1. At the Praevmedic medical clinic in Zürich, people have their health checked, either as a routine preventive measure, or because they have some serious concerns about their health. The people who go to the clinic are of different age-groups and different cultural backgrounds. Sometimes, they are sent by their employers; others go there voluntarily. The task of the Praevmedic staff is to identify any symptoms which need particular attention and to treat the underlying causes of such symptoms.


    1. At the 5C Centre in Zug, which lies a few kilometres south of Zürich, people get help with resolving cultural conflicts and personal crises. The majority of these situations arise because of frictions between competing value-systems or ‘cultures’. The latter are related to people’s social and ethnic backgrounds, their family life and the environments in which they currently live and work. The task of the 5C staff is to identify the true sources of the problems and to help people resolve them.


Below is a list of the insights which these two organisations have gathered in helping and treating ex-pats who live in the German-speaking part of Switzerland:

Culture stress



    1. The impact of culture-stress on people’s physical and mental health is widely under-estimated.Many people find it difficult to pinpoint or explain the reasons for their lack of well-being.The reason for this is that culture-stress involves deeply-seated emotions and often quite complex dynamics of values. Neither of these phenomena lends itself easily to simple analysis or explanation.As a consequence, culture-stress often goes either misdiagnosed or completely undiagnosed for many years. This can lead to severe or even chronic health problems. In some cases, it also leads to irreversible problems in families and at work. Many of the causes of the more severe forms of culture-stress are laid out below.


    1. The ability to handle culture-stress varies strongly from one individual to another, even within the same family or working group.Consequently, those suffering from deep culture-stress can sometimes get overlooked and ignored by others. Many sufferers are classed as ‘over-reacting to their new environment’. In such cases, the sufferers then tend to regard themselves as being ‘abnormal’ and try to suppress their problems. This, of course, then intensifies the impact of the culture-stress on their behaviour and health.


    1. Proneness to culture-stress varies not only from individual to individual, but also from culture to culture. Different cultures also have different ways of handling cultural dissonance.For those people who are culturally conditioned to see the world as a ‘global village’, cultural differences tend to have a much lower significance than for those who see the world getting ‘larger’, i.e. as getting increasingly diverse. Some cultures engage with others with greater initial caution than others. Interactions between cultures which differ in such ways can lead to quite considerable tensions. Issues like ‘inadequate respect’ and ‘mistrust’ can sometimes arise quite quickly; sometimes they only arise only after a period of months or even years. Regardless of the time period, issues like these can, of course, damage relationships very seriously.


    1. Culture-stress can arise not only because of differences of national or religious values, but also because of differences of corporate, social, family and personal values. In fact – depending on the definitions one is using – ‘culture-stress’ can be classed either as a synonym for, or as a subcategory of, ‘value-system stress’.


    1. For those who suffer under the most intensive forms of value-system stress, the roots often lie in multiple sources of value-system dissonance (see below). This makes it all the more difficult for them to realise what the true cause of their symptoms is.Those who suffer under value-system stress from multiple sources such as their workplace, their families and their acquaintances can become extremely isolated and depressed.


    1. Value-system stress at work can also lead to the accentuation of other underlying conflicts, e.g. between husband and wife, or between children and parents. Problems which had been lying dormant for several years can suddenly come to the surface and create quite stressful dynamics.


    1. In other cases, people have value-system conflicts inside themselves, again very often without realising it. These can arise when a person internalises more than one value-system, e.g. during childhood or in later life. Such ‘intra-psychic conflicts’ are quite common and vary in intensity from one person to another. They are often the root of symptoms like low self-esteem, depression, burnout and isolation. If a person already possesses inner value-system stress, this can also make it difficult for him/her to come to terms with a move to another cultural environment. In fact, a move to a different country, a change of employer or a new private relationship can trigger the outbreak of issues which have been lying suppressed or misdiagnosed for many years.Cultural assimilation – sometimes the cure, sometimes the problem 


    1. Many people are able to assimilate into a new culture without too many problems. Such people are said to possess a high level of ‘intercultural competence’, at least in relation to the specific new cultural environment.


    1. However, although ‘cultural assimilation’ can indeed significantly reduce culture-stress in the individual, it can also create new conflicts and stress within families and groups.This occurs quite frequently and it arises when one or more members of a family or a group assimilate more than the others.Even international joint-ventures and strategic alliances can break down not only as a result of cultural dissonance between the parties, but also because of differing levels of cultural assimilation among the members of each party.


    1. In the case of individuals who are able to adapt very quickly, cultural assimilation can have the effect that they inadvertently internalise a new value-system which eventually turns out to be strongly incompatible with a previously existing value-system. This in turn creates inner stress, i.e. an intra-psychic conflict (see above). Almost paradoxically, culture-stress arises as a result of their ability to adapt. In some cases, intra-psychic conflict of this nature can require very intensive treatment to resolve it.


    1. Culture-stress is not always noticeable immediately. Some people give the impression that they are assimilating into the local culture, often even believing themselves that they have truly assimilated. However, it can turn out later that that person’s assimilation has only been partial and that, at a more fundamental level, a deep form of cultural dissonance remains.


    1. In the so-called ‘second generations’ of families who have moved to another country, it can happen that young people resist the ‘new’ cultural environments, even though they have grown up there. Instead of assimilating, they prefer to identify themselves with the cultural origins of their parents. The culture-stress which then arises inside themselves is very often suppressed which this can have surprising and uncontrollable effects on their emotions and behaviour.


    1. In other cases, the assimilation process can be so strong and ‘dominant’ that people experience acute forms of culture-stress when they are faced with returning to live in their original cultural environments.Cultural bereavement


    1. In some cases, people come to the subconscious realisation that circumstances are such – and their assimilation is and must be so strong – that they must depart from their original cultural identity. The process of ‘cultural bereavement’ can be just as painful and stressful as bereavement over the loss of a person whom one has dearly loved. In fact, ‘cultural bereavement’ can be even more painful and stressful, because it is to a great extent a purely internal process involving ‘departure from attachment to oneself’.


In conclusion, culture-stress, cultural assimilation and cultural bereavement can impact quite seriously on the physical and psychological health of individuals and their families. A great part of the problem lies in the fact that the true source of their problems is often not adequately understood. Once properly understood, many people can often resolve their problems quite quickly and do not need further external help. Others need more extensive treatment involving a combination of appropriately specialised psychological and physical treatment.

What can be done to recognize and overcome the effects of ‘culture-stress’ and ‘value-system stress’?

Drawing on the insights above, the following tips may be useful for ex-pats living in German-speaking Switzerland:


    1. Be attentive to the fact that, even within the same family, different people deal with new cultural environments and new value-systems in strongly differing ways. If you are a parent, for example, and you seem to be able to handle such changes quite easily, do not overlook
        • what may be going on inside your partner or your children and

        • what may be going on at a deeper level inside yourself.
    2. Be particularly sensitive to those around you who shows signs of
        • reduced energy and motivation

        • poor performance

        • sleeping problems

        • questions about their identity and purpose

        • increased feelings of anxiety, isolation or depression

        • increased reactiveness or aggressiveness

        • reduced immunity to infections

        • increasing outbreaks of allergies

        • increased suffering from pains in the back, chest, head or stomach,

        • increasing relationship difficulties and conflicts with others.

    3. Be attentive to the fact that fundamental changes which take place at an early age (up to around 14 years old) can have a particularly deep and lasting impact on a person’s health and social behaviour. This applies especially to fundamental changes concerning a person’s affectional bonds, whether these be bonds with their parents, their family or their cultural environments.


    1. Be aware of the fact that human nature tends to take matters most seriously when problems are at their most acute. Prevention, so we are told, is better than cure. However, whether a problem has already become acute or not, the most crucial aspect of any remedy is to get the problem accurately diagnosed. If addressed early enough, the solution often lies in merely pinpointing and understanding the true cause of the problem. Given the complexity of the phenomena and the effects of culture-stress, cultural assimilation and cultural bereavement, ensure that you get adequately qualified help. Be particularly wary of getting help and advice from people who are not experienced in intercultural matters. However well-meant that advice might be, it could make the problem worse rather than alleviating it.


Stuart Robinson 15th September 2012If you are interested in a talk being given by Stuart on this topic, please make contact via

Summer Theatre Courses For Kids

The Simply Theatre Academy in Zurich is holding theatre courses for kids over the Summer. Young aspiring performers from the Zurich area will have the choice between three workshops: “The Three Musketeers” workshop will be lead by a first class sword stage combat fight director and will be split into two age groups, one ranging from 8 to 11, the other from 12 to 17. The second workshop, “Movie in a Week”, will encourage children from 11 to 17 to unleash their creative talent and to work in teams to produce a short action film. They will be given the opportunity to get involved in all aspects of film making including pitching ideas, script writing, acting for screen and shooting ‘on location’.  The last workshop will give children between 10 and 17 the chance to learn a selection of show stopping musical numbers with a top choreographer and a vocal coach from London’s West End. All three workshops will culminate in a final show, such as an open-air performance or a premier viewing. “Over the week, students discover and learn many key components of an actor’s training, meet friends and develop many valuable life skills to take them well beyond the stage,” said Thomas Grafton, Company Director, of the Simply Theatre Academy. “The summer courses offer students the great opportunity to work with experienced theatre practitioners, specialising in acting, vocal coaching, choreography, and stage combat.” The Simply Theatre summer workshops all last one week and will take place at the “Tanzhaus” Zurich venue between July 23rd and August 10th. A further eight summer workshops are taking place at the Geneva venue. Enrolments for both venues are now open. Find out more on:

What Is A Swiss Finishing School?

There was a time when any self-respecting debutante would know that she would spend some time polishing off her etiquette and deportment at a Swiss Finishing School. More recently, you would be more likely to hear a reference to Swiss Finishing Schools in a joke, such as the woman downing an entire pint of beer being told “and are your parents glad they spent all that money on your Swiss Finishing School?” Some people wonder if they still exist, other whether they ever existed at all. Not only are they genuine, but they are evolving with the needs of the modern world. In order to find out more, we asked some cliché-laden questions to the Institut Villa Pierrefeu in Gilon.

The portrayal is of young ladies learning how to behave at formal dinners, gracefully enter and exit a vehicle and carry themselves in a way becoming of a young lady. How does the real world of the Finishing School differ from the misconceptions we may have been fed over the years?

The real world of the Finishing School today is about learning to be a good hostess but also how to understand and appreciate the customs and manners of other cultures, creating a harmonious atmosphere in the home and developing practical skills so as to be more efficient.  The “cliché” of learning how to walk, get in and out of a car and learning to be graceful at a dinner party is only a small part of a very large and varied curriculum.

How does the Finishing School fit in to the education system?

The Finishing School is an excellent complement to academic studies (after secondary school or University), an excellent preparation for one’s future professional and social life or a great addition to this life.

What kind of time commitment does one need in order to attend a Swiss Finishing School? Is it a permanent residence over a year or can someone attend for a longer or shorter period of time?

You can attend a Finishing School in Switzerland for a full school year but will then also learn French or consolidate English, not only have classes of the Finishing programme. Or you can choose to take only some parts of the curriculum, without learning the language and come for one to six weeks.

What would you say is the national background of the attendees at the School?

Students come from all over the world and nationalities vary from course to course.

Does an equivalent Finishing School exist for young men?

For the moment, there is no equivalent Finishing School for men as it developed as a tradition of female education.

Finally, if a parent is wondering what the Finishing School can do for their child, what benefits would you highlight in particular?

Finishing School can give a child greater self-confidence, better general culture and more efficiency in daily practical life. We would like to thank the Institute Villa Pierrefeu for their time and answers. If you are interested in their curriculum or just in learning more about the Institute, the Institut Villa Pierrefeu website contains some great information.