Research suggests the Swiss have a negative view of expats

by Ray Clancy on May 8, 2017

In Switzerland people think expats are rich people who live on generous relocation packages and send their children to expensive private schools, but this is far from the truth, according to new research.

Expats are often regarded in a negative way, but in reality this is based on a complete lack of knowledge of the expat community, according to Tania Zittoun, a professor at the institute of psychology and education at the University of Neuchatel.

Her research, carried out over three years, had found that many expats in Switzerland do not fit the stereotype and they usually earn the same amount as their Swiss counterparts and take jobs in a wide variety of sectors.

The research involved speaking to expat families all over Switzerland and it found that children adapt well, making new friends and not questioning the move. But expats also tend to cling to certain things to stave off homesickness, such as singing favourite songs, cooking particular dishes and reading books from home. She believes that such traditions help them to cope.

The research also found that expats tend to have items that they take with them when they move to remind them of feeling at home. These objects can vary from a comfortable sofa to a much loved teddy bear.

Spouses who follow a partner abroad can find it more difficult, the research also found. They are often left to deal with the more mundane matters such as sorting out a family doctor, paying bulls and can find it harder to make friends or find work.

This can lead to feelings of isolation and they seek out likeminded expats as they have few opportunities to socialise with others and this can lead to Swiss people thinking that they are not making an effort to integrate.

The study concludes that the Swiss Government should make it easier for so called ‘trailing spouses’ to get jobs in Switzerland and make teachers aware of the difficulties faced by expat children.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Iamgoing June 25, 2017 at 9:55 pm

Generally the description you are giving covers the role of expats in the world even though the Latin meaning does not reflect it, the term is used for specialists or exceptional leaders offered copious packages to obtain set goals (set up a company for a multinational, establish mining facilities, perform vendor implementation, high management of significant investments, etc….). This is done under a timebound expat package and salaries are agreed on a net basis and all concerns are taken care of so the highly desired expat can focus on the agreed task at hand and is willing to share what makes him/her special outside the known environment.

Having done this myself and recognizing the terminology I am amazed to see that from my experience it’s only the (cheap) labor in the Middle East and something similar here in Switzerland referring to themselves as expats without these packages (one or two hustlers in other locations aside). I may be mistaken, but such is my experience and usually the expat packages are time based to allow for specific taxation and home base continuation.

Though the income in Switzerland may seem high compared to many home bases, most foreigners working in this country have to pick up their tax and housing bills themselves and there is little arranged in relation to the home country, which in the country I come from makes these “expats” guest workers. Even the perceived high salaries may not attract Swiss nationals, which makes it cheap labor, which does distort the market for Swiss nationals and in addition a lot of this “cheap labor” pursuits Swiss nationality, which makes the market disruption structural so even though you may be on the receiving end it may be worthwhile to consider the point of view of these poor people as well as it does not fit their square indoctrinated pea brains (accepting their views doesn’t make them less rude or ignorant).

I am glad to leave this week and hope not te be dragged here again, unless it’s an actual expat assignment 😉.


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