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An Expat Talks about Living in Geneva, Switzerland

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Geneva

How long have you lived there?

5 years

What activities, clubs and organizations would you recommend to newcomers to help them meet others?

North Americans will particularly enjoy linking up with the local softball league. This a great time for the athlete and non-athlete to get out in the countryside and play. You will meet all sorts of nationalities as many unexpected fans of American baseball pop up from all over the world. Contact by email or, if you work in one of the Orgs, ask around about the league. There are many teams.

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In terms of religious, racial, economic and cultural diversity, are the people of this city or town diverse? Are they accepting of differences? Describe.

With the International Organizations in town there is an incredible amount of diversity. As noted by others here, it is difficult to meet the locals but I found them warm and hospitable on a one to one basis. They enjoy including their "exotics" (us) in their activities and we have been invited to family dinners, weddings and birthday partys over the years. If you are a francophobe though, you may have trouble. Learn a bit of French and you will have a totally different experience!

What are the main industries in this city? What types of career opportunities commonly exist? How do most people find new jobs?

International diplomacy and commerce dominate the workplace. A handy footnote for spouses of people who are posted to Geneva, you do not need a visa to work for the internationals and your salaries are not taxed when you do. Temp work is available that is very interesting and challenging. The best, and practically the only way into that system is through connections, i.e. the "old boy network". Steno skills help as do language skills but there are many diverse opportunities for what they call "local hires" as opposed to the recruitment of international "experts".

In general, what are peoples' priorities in this city? For example, do lives revolve around work, family, socializing, sports, etc.?

There is a lot of socializing and traveling in small groups or as individuals. Most of the people you will meet who are expats are well educated and excited to be at the heart of Europe with what are pretty reasonable salaries and a lot of free time to enjoy the perks.

Skiing, climbing, bicycle touring, etc. etc. on the physical side are just a few of the attractions. GAOS, the amateur theatrical group is far more interesting than their title would indicate and many folks get immersed in their activities.

Of course, everything you do in Geneva will eventually lead you to a banquet to celebrate something or other which will lead you to yet other

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If a friend of yours was thinking of moving to this city or town from far away, what other advice would you give them.

Don't bother bringing anything unless you are totally convinced that you won't be able to get it in Geneva. If you can think of something that fits that catagory I would love to know what it was as I haven't found anything (a long while ago we couldn't find "crunchy" peanut butter but forget that problem, it's here)lacking here.

Go to the library and check out a couple of books on Switzerland. The locals will be amazed when you are able to demonstrate any knowledge about history, especially theirs. North Americans have been judged, and rightfully so, deficient in an appreciation of history and the role it plays in Europe generally. You will have to read the books, by the way!

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