Socialising as a Newcomer/Expat in Switzerland

Topics covered

  • Finding a social network when you first arrive in Switzerland
  • Socialising with other expats
  • Socialising with locals
  • The honeymoon period of moving to a new country
  • Cultural differences between Switzerland and the US
  • The American International Club Zurich and other expat associations

Who We're Speaking With

In this episode, we speak to James Macsay and Margaret Reilly Baer from the American International Club Zurich about how expats can build a social network in Switzerland.

James Macsay is the former president of the AICZ. He is currently on the board of the Association of American Clubs, which is responsible for American Clubs in Switzerland and all around the world. He is a communication professional married to a Swiss for many years. He works in corporate settings and as a communication consultant/facilitator and also hosted a radio show in Zurich many moons ago.

Margaret Reilly Baer is the current president of the AICZ. Originally from New York City, she has over 40 years of experience as an international event professional with institutions including the Metropolitan Opera, the School of American Ballet at Lincoln Centre, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. She is also married to a Swiss and recently retired from UBS after 21 years.

About the Episode

Finding a social network is one of the most important — and most challenging — tasks expats face. In Switzerland, local friendship groups are often very tight-knit. This can make socialising seem daunting at first.

But there are many groups, clubs, and associations that can help, especially in large cities like Zurich. Here's how you can actively build a social network:

  • Join expat associations: If you’re an English speaker, attend a range of expat events to meet others who are going through the same process. The American International Club Zurich is a great place to start. They host regular drinks evenings, cultural events, and informative talks about a range of topics.
  • Get involved in local clubs: In Switzerland, around 40% of adults are part of a local club, called Verein in German and association in French. There are sports clubs, choirs, hobby groups, and unique ones like firefighting associations. No matter what you’re into, you’ll find a Verein to suit your needs.
  • Take up a hobby: Running, walking a dog, and riding horses are the three hobbies mentioned in the podcast, but there is an endless range of options. If you pursue something you love, you’ll automatically meet like-minded people in your neighbourhood.
  • Get involved in your neighbourhood: Many apartment buildings and areas have associations that look after parts of the building or grounds. There might be a way to get involved in the decision-making process, or you could volunteer to help take care of a communal space.
  • Enjoy the cultural differences: No matter where you’re from, there will be differences between your home country and Switzerland. Be curious about how things are done here. Talking about cultural differences can be a great way to bond with your new acquaintances. Many Swiss people are well-travelled, so they love talking about different cultures.


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- Hello everybody and welcome to another episode of the ‘Living in Switzerland’ podcast.

The series is brought to you by Rigby. We are a staffing and IT services company based in Zurich. If you or anyone you know of is looking for a new role in Switzerland or if you're looking to hire, let us know. We'd be happy to help. The best way to do that is by sending an email to

Today we will be speaking about how expats can build up a social network in Switzerland. We are joined by James Macsay and Margaret Reilly Baer.

They're both connected to the American International Club Zurich, a supportive network of friends and colleagues, not only to American expats, but expats of all nationalities living in Zurich.

James is the former president of the AICZ. He is currently on the board of the Association of American Clubs, which is responsible for American Clubs in Switzerland and all around the world. He is a communication professional married to a Swiss for many years. He works in corporate settings and as a communication consultant/facilitator and also hosted a radio show in Zurich many moons ago.

Margaret is the current president of the AICZ. Originally from New York City, she has over 40 years of experience as an international event professional with institutions including the Metropolitan Opera, the School of American Ballet at Lincoln Centre, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. She is also married to a Swiss and recently retired from UBS after 21 years.

James and Margaret, welcome.

- Thank you.

- Yeah, thank you. Thank you, Kathrin.

- So why don't we start with you, Margaret? Tell us maybe a little bit about where you're from and why and when you came to Switzerland.

- Well, I'm from New York City originally and I'm married to a Swiss, so I came to Switzerland, actually, after opening the New York Times over the coffee cup in New York one day, and it said $99 round trip to Zurich. And I decided to splurge, and we went for a long weekend to Zurich to see my husband's mother. And that was a while ago now, that's almost 26 years ago.

He was at Oracle at the time, and he went in to say hello to the people in the Oracle office here in Zurich, and they offered him a job. So we originally thought, oh, we'll do the Europe thing for two or three years, won't that be fun? And then we got here and other things happened and I ended up getting a job that I really liked and here we are today.

- And in terms of socialising, how and why did you get involved in the expat community?

- Well, as a woman, well, no, actually, this happens to spouses on both sides when you come to any country other than where you're from and you have a career.

I sort of fell into a black hole because suddenly no one knew me, no one knew what I did. I was almost, oh, I was late 30s when I got here. So I had already a nice career in the United States.

And then you get here and you're basically the wife of or the husband of, and it's a bit disorienting. And so the American International Club, I joined it because they were not only a club, they were a club for families as well as professionals. And that was very important to me because obviously I was looking for a job. And it was because of them that I ended up going to, for example, the Professional Women's Group.

And there I was president for a few years and one of the women on the executive committee, the treasurer, who I think James you know, Lisa Sennhauser Kelly. She was the treasurer and at one point she said to me, ‘Would you ever consider going back inside?’

And I said, ‘Well, it would depend on the job.’ And she worked for UBS at the time and she put me in touch with this person who was looking for an event professional in cultural sponsorship and events and that was 21 years ago or well, 22 years now. And I enjoy the job so much, we ended up staying here.

- Right. And aside, I think you've already kind of covered this, but aside from socialising, what are the other benefits of joining an expat group? So you mentioned obviously building up some professional contacts. Is there anything else?

- I think one of the biggest things is being around like-minded people. Because when you you become an expat, regardless of where you're from - it doesn't matter, not necessarily just America - your horizon suddenly is much broader than it ever was. And you're not the same person that left, in my case, New York.

And to be around other people who have gone through that and understand what it's like, and that's the nice thing about the AICZ. For example, we're not all Americans. People from all countries. And a lot of our members are also Swiss who lived outside of Switzerland for a long time and now are no longer just Swiss.

- Kind of like me.

- Exactly. But you’re not just Swiss anymore. You have a broader horizon now. You've lived in other places. You have different ideas of what is correct and not correct. There goes my clock.

- Oh.

- Swiss timing, Margaret. Perfect.

- Speaking of Switzerland, that would be a Swiss clock you're hearing.

- That's it, and it's a good place to switch now to James. So, James, maybe you can tell us a little bit about where you're from and why you came to Switzerland.

- I'm going to give you the short version of the story here. Yeah, I am Swiss now. I became Swiss. I'm originally from the Detroit, Michigan area in the United States.

And yeah, my story, it's a long one, but the short story is that the summer many moons ago, 1985, before the internet was invented, I took a trip first time in Europe, we called it the ‘Let's Go Europe’ trip with a backpack and a book about Europe, and I was, started in England, and I met a Swiss lady who's now my wife. We met at a historic and a respectable tavern in Oxford and had a great time and she gave me her address, wrote it down on a piece of paper and said, you know, ‘When you come through Switzerland, you know, look me up and maybe you can come visit with our family.’

And so, so we did that. And, and then we had some time to get to know each other a bit more. But then I went back to the States. Long story short, we had like about a two-year sort of courtship time. And then we decided, let's get married. And then I came to Switzerland. That was back in the late 80s. And so that was the main reason - Cupid's arrow.

And I had no idea that I would ever come to Switzerland growing up as a young person in the US, but it just happened. So that's good. And so I'm still here. A lot of challenges, good times also.

Yeah, as with life anywhere, US or Switzerland, there's always things that sometimes don't go the way you want, but you go through them and it works.

- That's right.

- Yeah. And then I basically got involved in the expat community when I arrived. I didn't have a job yet. My wife was studying. So I started networking, and she had been sending out applications for me to different companies and then somebody told me, ‘Oh, there's the American Club in Zurich. Maybe you want to check that out.’

That was my first contact with the American, we were called the American Club of Zurich at the time. We had a happy hour, which we still do, we call it Thank Goodness It's Friday, TGIF. It was at the Eden Au Lac Hotel, which is now, I think, I think it's called La Réserve here in Zurich. But that was many years ago, but the tradition continues every Friday, third Friday of each month, people get together. And through that event, I started meeting Americans. I met, actually, one person who I kept in contact with since then, and he moved back to Michigan, and I see him every time I go back to Michigan.

I indirectly had sort of a, through networking, somebody introduced me to someone at General Motors who was a vice president of sales at the time and I had applied for a market, Junior Market Research role, and I was able to connect with this person, and indirectly that person introduced me to someone else in marketing and that helped me to land my first job in Switzerland.

So, hats off to the club for that.

I think that's, I guess, one of the reasons that I got involved with the club and I think for anyone listening, whether you're registered at Rigby AG, looking for your next IT service role or whatever you're looking for, we're a great community to meet people, connect with, and for opportunities, but also socializing.

Also, I would say, as Margaret mentioned, the sort of empathy, people, a lot of us are from, whether it's US or other countries and we're all here kind of between worlds. We're not a.. was it, ‘Weder Fisch noch Vogel.’ We're not really, we don't really belong back where we came from. And so, but there's certain community of people, this is life and we're here now and so we enjoy it.

- Right, so you'd also say the main…

- If I could add to that, James, I think what's important too with the club, I'm sure you'll agree, is that there's this openness and candidness that is native to some degree to North America, and I think the club takes that and runs with it and people enjoy that feeling when they come in that they can talk to anybody, you can just walk up and chat with someone.

- Yeah, it is that sort of, I don't know if it's a stereotypical thing, but if you go to the US and say, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ And people are interested. Okay, there's another side of that where it's sometimes a little bit, people think it's superficial, but I think the spirit, as Margaret says, we're very open and people are interested and curious, and it's, I think it's sincere too, the people who show up at least, relationships can start there or connections and things. So yeah.

- Sounds great. Yeah. I'm looking forward to actually going to the club also because I'm going to the first of August.

- That's right. The first of August.

- Yeah. Sounds good. All right. So let's talk maybe a little bit more generally about socializing in Switzerland. So people sometimes say that socializing in Switzerland can be tougher than in other countries. Why do you think they say this, and do you think there's any truth to it?

- Margaret, you want to go first?

- Well, on one hand, I think that's true and on another hand, having been here a little while, I start to think it's not so true. And I'll explain why.

Understandably, Americans are very outgoing. We tend to speak to each other and, you know, you'll be standing on a street corner in New York and something will happen and the person next you will turn and start talking about it to you. You know, it's very common. Whereas in Switzerland, that's not quite, it's not quite done.

The Swiss are very polite, and it's a much smaller country. So the boundaries, so boundaries in general are a bit more important.

You know, in America, you have, you know, it's such a big place that people tend to talk to each other because that's just, you know, what we do and I think, like I said, I think the Swiss, what do you think, James? I think the Swiss are polite and I found actually, when they hear you speaking German with an accent, they tend to speak to you, they give you, how shall I say, they give you, they realise like, ‘Uh oh, she's not Swiss. Okay.’ And then they start talking to you, which is kind of nice actually because it's as if they give you credit for not having the same worries? as they have, and then they do… And you make friends that way too, of course.

- Yeah. Yeah. If I think back when I first came here too, if in social settings the language can, if you don't know any German or Schwiizertüütsch, then you have to start in English or whatever language you're speaking.

And it works because you see, I found that the Swiss would often, even if you tried, you know, ‘Guten Tag’ or ‘Wie geht es Ihnen,’ and then they would like to shift over to English because their English skills are usually pretty good.

But that would be maybe one tip for newcomers to try, as Margaret mentioned, to learn a little bit or at least show you're making an effort. And then it sets the ground for, I think, a good exchange or an openness. And you show a little vulnerability, but also that you're trying to adjust to the local culture. And that is appreciated, I think, from the Swiss. And I think that helps to break that surface-level distance and discreet and standoff feeling that we sometimes get.

- And the Swiss is so multicultural that they enjoy having the chance to speak English. And that's sometimes, I know at one point I got kind of annoyed 'cause I thought, ‘well, I don't care if they're speaking English to me, I'm gonna keep speaking German because I needed the practice.’

And actually, most people were fine with that. I'd say something in German, they'd answer me in English, I'd say something again, back to them in German, say something in English and you know this went on for a little while and everybody was happy.

I was, yeah, they'll start to talk about, like to talk about vacations in the US, maybe in our case, ‘Oh yes, I was in the Grand Canyon and we did Death valley and Las Vegas.’

- Oh yeah yeah.

- So they'll quickly…

- The Swiss are well-travelled.

- Yeah, they get around, and so there's usually some, you know, rapport you can connect with and depending on where they've travelled to. And yeah, also to show your knowledge of Switzerland or places you've been is a good thing to do too.

- So if someone is struggling, they've moved here maybe and they're struggling to find a community, to find friends or just someone to socialise with at the weekend maybe. What tips would you give them? Obviously, you said learning the language, that's a really good start. But in terms of making deeper connections that maybe last a bit longer, what would you suggest?

- Well, I think definitely join these clubs that exist. And James, you can speak more to that, the Association of American Clubs. Regardless of what country you're in, you're going to find some sort of a club that will help you.

We're lucky here in Zurich. We have not only the American International Club, which is us, but we also have the American Women's Club. We have Zurich International Women's Association. We have the PWG, the Professional Women's Group. And definitely get involved in that.

The second thing that made a huge difference to me in making friends was if you like a sport, get into it, get into a club. If you're a golfer, go golfing. You'll meet the Swiss golfers.

If I was, or I am a rider and a friend of mine shortly after I got here, the Swiss friend said, ‘We need to get you a horse.’ And I thought, ‘Well, I beg your pardon.’ And sure enough, she got me a share in a horse. And it made a huge difference in how happy I was.

And it's like, I come from a family of marathon runners. If you're a runner and you run around the neighbourhood, you're gonna meet all the other runners. You're gonna know all of them by the time, oh, a month in, you'll easily know them all.

And especially, there's always, well, it's called ‘Vereine’ in German. There are also associations and clubs of different sports in Switzerland. So definitely get involved because you'll find like-minded people there. And that's a real pleasure.

- And you also have a dog, Margaret. That's another story.

- Oh, that's another story.

- Get a dog, go for a walk on the Monday night.

- Oh, you’ll definitely meet the neighbours with the dog. Yes, and all the other dog walkers.

- Yeah, all good points. So I think, yeah, aside from coming to one of our American International Club of Zurich Happy Hours and maybe becoming a member of the club, I find I go to other events too.

I often go to events, there's a group, maybe like Zurich Networking Group, or I'll even go, yeah, like International Women's Day, I was invited to something at the Kunsthaus.

So there's often, you'll see opportunities to get out and listen to a talk somewhere, an event where there's maybe, or it's a ‘Vernissage’, or it's a little gallery showing of some artwork. If you get chances to do that, or some friends invite you, or just go online and see what's happening in Zurich, just show up there and see what's going on.

And you'll usually meet somebody, or you'll, especially if you're interested in art or if you're into nature, walking groups, I think is another one as Margaret pointed out, swimming, whatever your hobby sports are, just find something you enjoy and you're going to find others and whether there's people from Switzerland or other countries, you'll meet them.

- Right. And Margaret, I know you had some personal experience with something called, you call it the honeymoon period. Maybe talk a little bit about that.

- It's funny, and that is not my term. That is, I forget where I heard it. It was at some sort of a lecture or a speech given by someone, and he referred to the honeymoon period. And it's true because you get here and you want to fit in and you make every effort. And you're learning German and you're eating cheese and you're learning about the Alps and you know, and the Swiss always amazed me.

- Swiss wine!

- They all know of course, right Swiss wine, but they all know, they know the name of every Alp, which always amazes me. They look in the distance, and they all look like mountains to me. Of course, I come from New York, so I guess if they were they skyscrapers, it would be a little easier.

But I, you know, they look in the distance and they're saying, oh yes, and that would be the Rigi and that would be the this and that would be the oh and that's oh and there's you know, Kleine Scheidegg, whatever it is, and um when you first come, and I went through this, they say that when you first get here after a period of a little while you start to almost become more Swiss than the Swiss because you want to fit in, so you want to learn this and you want, you know, ‘And I'm going to speak German and I'm going to take trams and I'm going,’ you know. And after a while you sort of go back to normal, luckily.

But there is that period where, you know, and I thought it was very funny, the honeymoon period of being more Swiss than the Swiss, because you definitely do, I see people doing that. And I think it's good because you need to jump into the cold water and start splashing around, and you'll eventually learn to swim.

- That's right. And yes, just showing, as you said before, also just showing an interest, making an effort is really important to the Swiss.

- Exactly. Yeah, and they see you doing that, you know.

- That's right. Do you have anything else you'd like to share about your personal experience when you first came here?

- Well, I think one thing is, yeah, just sort of be sort of open to different experiences that you're having without judging too much.

And one real quick story, I remember it was winter, cold. It was the first winter here and I drove my wife up to the local Migros shopping store, and I just dropped her off at the front door and I said, ‘I’ll wait outside for you. And just go do the shopping.’

And so I just kind of put the car into a parking space, but I left the engine running on the car. I think you know where I'm going with this. So I was barely there, I don't know, 10, 20 seconds and next thing I know someone comes up, and they're knocking on the window of my car and I said, ‘What's going on now?’

But some person, it happened to be, I think a slightly older female, and I rolled the window down and she goes, ‘Ja, ja, du solltest das, Sie sollten das nicht machen’, or, ‘Turn off your car, you shouldn't be letting the engine run.’

So I said, ‘Oh yeah, of course, I should have realised that.’

But where I'm from in Michigan, and Margaret might know that too, from being in these cold states, that's typical American behaviour, leave your car running so you stay warm. And in Switzerland, it's bad for the environment, you're wasting fuel. So these values around efficiency and nature and protecting the environment for others. So yeah, you'll get little, how do you say, awakenings or a little teachings.

- Awakenings.

- We like to, yeah, not control, we like to remind each other of the rules. So if somebody reminds you to do something, you're putting your trash out incorrectly or you're leaving your shoes out in front of your, the ‘Gang’ or the lobby space in front of your apartment, you know, keep that place orderly, put things away. So little things like that. I'm not saying it's like that everywhere, but there's a tendency for those cultures.

- Well, the flip side of that though, James, you'll appreciate this. So Adrian and I lived in New York for many years, well, for a couple of years when we were first married before moving here. And we happened to be out in Long Island, waiting for somebody to arrive on the, on the jitney, on the bus. And we're sitting there. There's a guy sitting next to us who's also sitting there waiting for the bus and his engine is running.

And doesn't my dear husband, my Swiss husband, rolls down the window, signals to him, the guy rolls down his window and my husband says, ‘Your engine is running.’ And he looked at him like, ‘Thank you, Mr. Martian.’

- Thanks, dude, I gotta get going here.

- There's two sides that, you see. So the Swiss go through the same thing when they come to America or to another country. They also have situations where they can't help their Swissness.

- That's right.

- Just like Americans can’t help their American. The Italians are always Italian and the Spanish are always Spanish and that.

- That's right.

- But it's one of the lovely things about traveling around the world.

- Yeah, and you too, Kathrin, like you as a Swiss, going to the UK. I'm sure there's certain things all of a sudden. I can let go of that old rule and now just, or I don't know how you find that like in the UK.

- For sure. Yeah, everything's open on Sundays. It's so strange. I don't know why all the shops are open. So yeah, that's something to get used to. But let's move on to one more question about socializing in general.

So, interacting with expats and other people in a similar situation is maybe not so hard in Switzerland because there are all these clubs and opportunities. But what about meeting the locals? Can you maybe give us one or two tips about how you would go about meeting locals?

- Well, I definitely think sport, like we mentioned. My dog walking, certainly you know everybody in the neighbourhood who has a dog.

- That's a good one.

- Locals. Ah, and it is when they have, similar to the States, they have what we would call I guess in the States a Farmer’s Market. You know, they have green markets. Oh yes, and definitely go to those, chat with people and like I said, they'll hear that you're not Swiss or you know, not a native and so people do give you credit for that and are very helpful and very kind usually.

- Yeah right, we have a couple of these, sort of, urban garden boxes, but it's outside in a certain area and that's always a good chance. Someone's watering the plants where, you know, there's again this common interest in something and so that gives you a good chance to connect with others or in your apartment or your community, if there's a, you know, a what they call a ‘Wohngemeinschaft’ or a, people who come together, that's even though you may not understand everything they're talking about, it's always nice to be present there, and it shows that you're part of the community, so that helps.

And if you're young and you enjoy getting out, Zurich's got a great nightlife, all kind of clubs and places, dancing or partying and having a good time, or cultural events. So again, no matter what country you're from, you're going to find people who are interested in your culture and enjoy music together, whatever it is that you're doing.

- And it's the same for other cities as well. For example, Lausanne is well known also for its nightlife. So many other cities, no matter where you settle in Switzerland, you'll still have those opportunities. Obviously, Zurich is the biggest. But yeah.

- It's a good country for that. There's a lot of offers no matter what region you're in. And I think the nightlife transcends cultural rules and stereotypes and things.

- Well, and our TGIFs are very popular. And that's why.

- Yeah, let's see.

- Because Switzerland does not as such have a pub culture where you walk in, you sit down, you don't know anybody and you end up chatting with people. You don't find that as often in Switzerland. As you might say in the UK, it's very prominent in Ireland, in New York, you can walk into a bar, the TV set is on, and somebody's bound to make a comment to you about, I don't know, whatever ball game’s on the TV, and you end up chatting with people. And then you leave, you never see them again. But it's nice to have that contact with people and sort of non-committal contact.

- That's right. And I think that's where maybe, what maybe people mean when they say it's hard to socialise in Switzerland, because non-committal contact isn't very common. It's all either your friends with someone or you don't really interact with them very much.

- ‘Entweder oder’ -- one or the other, right? That's true.

- That's right. So let's move on and talk a little bit about AICZ specifically. So, do you want to just tell me a little bit or tell the listeners a little bit about the organization in general?

- Yeah, well, I mean, just, well, first of all, Margaret is our new president. I stepped back from the role and transferred the, how do I say, handed over the flame to Margaret after doing my.

- Yeah, for the sceptre.

- All right, anyways, but the club itself has been around since 1957, and it's always been there for friends, fellowship, or coming together and yeah, being sort of an integration spot for Americans, but also for people who have interest in the American spirit to connect here in Switzerland. So yeah, and Margaret, you're our new president. Maybe you want to add a few things that you're excited about stepping into that role.

- Well, I think what I like about the club is that, A, you don't have to be American. It's based on, I mean, obviously we have a lot of Americans or people who've lived in America. There are a lot of people who work for American companies and therefore, you know, it's a big help to have somebody you can talk about and ask questions of how things run and how things work.

But also, like I said, we have Swiss people who worked for whatever reason in other countries and then came back and enjoy being around other people with fairly broad horizons in how they look at things.

It's interesting too, I think we take advantage and that's what I like, we take advantage of the openness that is an American trait. Openness in the sense of, if you're having fun and you can chat with someone, like the TGIFs, if you're having fun, you can stay four hours, if you're not having fun, you can talk to one, two people, have a drink, leave. Nobody is being insulted, nobody, you know, it's up to you.

And that's very nice. And it's also nice to have, there's bound to be somebody, and I always say this, there's somebody in the room that you'll enjoy talking to. You just have to find them, you know, and they may find you, which is nice too. And it's nice to be around like-minded, open-minded, friendly people. And I think that's very important when you come to another country because you need the support and the camaraderie that will help you find your place and make your life.

- It's probably also good to know, to add onto that, Margaret, that the club itself doesn't have any like, commercial or political affiliations.

- Yes.

- People don’t come out and wanna hear about the Democrats or the Republicans or what's going on. So, people will have their own opinions, but there's no particular stance or objective and apolitical, really. So there's no, basically it's a not-for-profit service organization like a ‘Verein.’

- And our, yeah, we don't have any political associations and that's very important.

- And we do a good job to keep events. So they're not, if we have speakers that, or things that are not charged in one way or politically or cultural religious themes, nothing like that. People may talk about that on their own at the happy hour in their own way, but we're not promoting anything.

- And is that, or are these factors reasons why you chose this club, or did you just sort of happen upon it by chance?

- I think for me, I didn't really think about it. I kind of assumed that it would be like that. So I think maybe that's again, sort of the American values and the US people can be quite polarised and opinionated. At the same time, people in general will respect each other in such an environment and not impose others or bring in their own, use the event for their own purposes.

- And the funny thing is, and now you're reminded me, when I first came here, I didn't want to be around Americans too much because I was afraid it would keep me from learning German, it would keep me from, it would keep me too rooted on the other side of the Atlantic. And so I purposely didn't hang out too much. That was the, you know, the honeymoon, be more Swiss than the Swiss period, I think, a little bit.

But the funny thing that, and this is why I enjoy living abroad, actually, things like this, I had a Thanksgiving dinner shortly after I came, and I invited a couple of the neighbours. And so we had, which is not that usual, I guess, in Switzerland, oh, we had maybe 14 people around the table, 14, 16 people.

I have a large table that you can put leaves into, and it'll hold up to 18 people. And Thanksgiving is known for getting everyone together. And aside from, well, it was interesting too, I couldn't find, I had to get three or four turkeys because my oven wasn't big enough to fit what I considered a proper Thanksgiving turkey. So that was fun because some of the neighbours helped to cook.

And one of the things that I found interesting though, and this is a bit of a difference, or it was at that point in America and Switzerland. And that was afterwards, one of the neighbours said, ‘Oh, Margaret, I was sitting next to,’ I forget what his name was, ‘Wälti, I was sitting next to Wälti, and we don't agree on the parking issue in the town right now. But we didn't bring it up because I would never do that to a lovely dinner party like yours.’

And I said to her, ‘Why didn't you bring it up? This is the perfect chance over a glass of wine to have a good,’ you know, I said, ‘Nothing like a good argument to make an,’ you know, ‘to make a dinner party interesting.’

And that's a very different way between how the Swiss see it and the Americans see it.

I was saying to myself, you know, in America, you have a good fight across the, you know, across the dessert tray. And you know, and then everybody's still friends when you leave, you know, you say, ‘James, I think you're full of baloney. And would you like another glass of wine?’ And nobody takes it as rude to have started a discussion, an active discussion at the dinner table. Let's put it that way.

And I found that very interesting and I thought, ‘Oh, that is a difference. I'll have to remember that if I go to someone else's house for dinner.’ Because in an American household, yes, you can have a big chat about something that not everybody agrees on and it's no big deal. Whereas here it was seen as disrupting a lovely event.

- Right. So, another cultural difference maybe to keep in mind. Tell me a little bit about the events. So I know that the club offers a balance of Swiss and American events. So tell me for example, if someone wants to join, what can they expect?

- Well we have the, as we mentioned, the Thank Goodness It's Friday, TGIF events, third Friday of every month. So that's kind of usually the entry point where people have the first contact with us, and you can meet Margaret there, other members from our executive committee, people who come maybe for the first time, others who are long-time members or frequently attending the event.

And then after that, we, you know, people might say, ‘Boy, this was fun.’ And, you know, ‘What's coming up next?’ And then we might say, ‘Well, we just had a great fourth of July party.’ Margaret can tell you more about that.

That's the bigger events. We do Thanksgiving dinner, which a lot of people know about this American tradition.

The Swiss side, we've got a farmer's brunch, right Margaret? Coming up August 1st. So you celebrate, okay, first of August, recognise that day we have a nice location. That one is out in the countryside, Unterlunkhofen, but it's, yeah, we organise it and there's a big, nice farmer's brunch available.

And the last thing in August we have, we're doing a golf day in Otelfingen. So if anyone's into golf.

- Oh yes, that's a new one. Yeah, a revised one.

- We might even do an Après-Golf for those who don't want to golf but want to join the Après-Golf, Après-Ski-Golf. But that's coming up. So, and you can go on the website and find all about that. It's the

Yeah, Margaret, do you wanna add something about… Yeah, we had this great Fourth of July party out at the lakeside in Zurich, right down by the lake.

- Yeah, and it was great because the lakeside, as you know, is pretty much, well, in the heart of Switzerland, of Zurich. And so it was great because people who were working that day, it was on, it happened to fall on a Tuesday. So people who were working could easily get there. So that was nice. And we had a good crowd. We had over a hundred people. And it was a nice mixed crowd. There were some kids there.

We had a very lovely rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" by a gentleman from the Zurich opera, Cheyne Davidson. And he's American and has been here, again, he's been here since 19, I think, 1991, I think he said.

But that got me started, of course, thinking, ‘Oh, maybe we should have some opera outings,’ because I like opera. And more than one person said, ‘Oh, count me in.’

And the other thing that we're thinking about doing now is getting a Young Professionals group started. So if anyone listening is interested in that sort of thing, for networking, for having talks by various professionals and experts on different subjects. So yeah, there's a lot going on. And it's all on our website,

And look it up. We'd love to have you. And again, you can also come as a non-member to events. We'd love to see you. You can, you know, it's nice because then you can come to a few events. You can test the waters, see if you're happy, see if you think this is a group for you if you enjoy it. And yeah, we're always happy to see new faces.

- Right, perfect. Yeah, so I'll definitely join your next event. Looking forward to it. And listeners can also look out for a summary of that on the blog where I'm going to publish that just tell you a little bit about my experience.

Maybe as a last thing to cover is just, for those listeners who are not looking to settle in Zurich, maybe who are interested in another part of Switzerland, it's important to emphasise that these clubs exist all over the country, don't they? So do any of you have anything to say about that, about clubs in other parts?

- Yeah, I think we referenced it earlier. It's called the Association of American Clubs, and this is something over the last, it existed some years ago and then now there's been a resurgence to bring together. Let's say our club in Zurich, there's one in Geneva, Lucerne has one, and then if you go around Europe, Lisbon has a big club, Berlin, we have people with Barcelona, and so what we're doing, we're trying to bring together those clubs, so like if you're going to travel to those areas and you need a contact or you'd like to reach out through the American community that, you could do that.

So it's getting better, it's coming together, but we're all doing this on sort of a volunteer basis, so it just takes time to really follow up and get work done and make sure that websites are running and people know what's out there. But that is another one, good question, Kathrin. Thank you.

- All right. Well, so that's it for today. So thanks once again to James and Margaret for joining us and to you for listening.

We'll include links in the show notes to our two guests and to further materials about some of the topics that we have spoken about today.

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So, thanks and until the next time.

- Yeah, thank you, Kathrin. It was great to be with you.

- Thank you. This was fun.