Read our interview with Jerry Isturis, an expat dad and blogger who moved to Switzerland with his family a year ago. He tells us about his blog www.thetrailinghusband.weebly.com, his experience as a trailing spouse in Switzerland and shares his top tips to make the transition as smooth as possible!
My expat family and I
We’re from the Philippines and we moved to Vevey in May 2011. My wife, the expat, and I have two kids aged 5 and 6 (they were 4 and 5 when we arrived). Our daughter is 5 yrs. old and our boy is 6.
An Expat Blog is Born
The idea came to my mind within the first week of our stay here in Switzerland. There were so many new things to learn, from road laws to household chores that we weren’t sure how to deal with because no one had told us how to go about it.
Case in point was the Parking Disc. We didn’t know how to use it. I had to browse on the internet for some time to learn how to use it. Only after reading about it on the web I learned that not using it meant being fined, and fines here are horribly costly!
Similarly, I came across other “stumbling blocks” that made me realize that other trailing spouses like me might need guidance and advice as well. I thought to myself: what if I could share my experience through a blog, so that other expats in a similar situation wouldn’t have to go through all the trouble of learning how to do simple things all the time?
Realizations like this prompted me start my blog, in order to help other trailing spouses and save them the extra time and effort to learn to do simple chores. I wanted other expat spouses to have a quick reference point.
It was easy for me to start the website since I’ve been creating websites for a couple of years already. Some of my other websites are: www.pinoywordofmouth.blogspot.com, www.foodpanasoniciphone.blogspot.com.
Top Tips for Trailing Spouses
I believe that keeping oneself busy everyday prevents depression to sink in. I also believe in the saying, once you stop growing, you begin dying.
Deciding to be a trailing spouse means giving up something temporarily or permanently. Leaving something is depressing. I left so much behind in exchange for this stint in Switzerland: a career, a job I liked, a monthly salary, freedom to buy what I want, friends I always see, proximity to parents and siblings. Sulking in the loss might have been depressing, so obviously, keeping it far from thought is the perfect thing to do.
My advice to other trailing spouses would be the following:
1. Accept that you no longer have the life you had in your home base.
2. Keep yourself busy by finding a hobby or learning new things (anything to improve yourself or increase knowledge) and create a routine.
3. Interact with the locals and enjoy their company (you learn more things from them aside from your co-trailing spouse of the same country of origin).
4. Always remember that having your family with you during an expatriate assignment is reason enough to be happy amidst the tons of household chores.
Lastly, on a personal level I found that relying on my faith really helped me, because it kept me sane enough to thank the Lord for the privilege to be relocated to another country and having my family with me.
The Children & School
Having the opportunity to enroll the children in any international school of our choosing, with tuition fees covered by my wife’s employer is such a blessing.
My advice for other trailing spouses who have the same benefit would be choose the best school there is in your area. And when I say the best, this means that it has to be the best for both you (parents) and your children and not just the one closer to you.
With regards to settling in, luckily my kids had no problem at all. At ages 4 and 5 at the time of our arrival, they were still excited to be in a new school and meet new friends. And also, our kids were already speaking English back in the Philippines, so they had no language problem entering into an International school where English was the primary language.
Best Thing about Expat Life in Switzerland
The best would be, hands down, that Vevey is very safe for children. The kids can walk in the streets without the threat of being kidnapped or mugged. Honestly, I haven’t yet encountered an activity here that really pushed me to the brink of tears. Maybe because I find everything so convenient here in Switzerland (for instance there’s very little traffic, Government processes are fast and efficient, etc.).
Our Family’s Favourite Place
The lake here in Vevey (Lac Leman) is beautiful all year round. We all love to walk, run or scoot along it when we have time.
My Advice to All New Expat Families
Well I would love all new expats to follow my blog! I always update it and I still have to put more content on my travel and shop pages, which they should not miss.
My goal in creating the website/blog www.thetrailinghusband.weebly.com is to share my experiences of living as an expat trailing spouse in Switzerland. I hope that my experiences, as well as my tips, will help newly assigned expat spouses and their families to adapt easily to life in Switzerland.
Alongside my Swiss blog, I am also the author of the Philippine Travel Website http://www.pinoywordofmouth.blogspot.com.
photo credit and copyright Jerry Isturis 2012.
We hope you enjoyed Jerry’s interview. We’re looking forward to hearing your thoughts & comments about being an expatriate trailing spouse in Switzerland, so we hope you will share your tips with us!
Are you an expat trailing spouse or expat dad who would like to feature in our “Expat Dads” section? Please get in touch, we’d love to hear your story!