A Bit of History and then some....
In Summer 2000, I came up with the idea to create a website that listed all the information I knew about Switzerland. I had hardly been online myself and no real idea of how to go about it. With the incredible help of Paul Bilton (www.PaulBilton.com) one year later, in June 2001 the site went live.
Over the years the site has grown immensely with thousands of visitors and hundreds of thousands of hits each month. My hard work (and Paul’s too), determination and belief in the site is only a part of its success. The visitors and sponsors are the other half of the equation and I thank them all for their continued information, ideas and support.
I am a firm believer of focusing on the positive things in life and hope that this site helps those that are living in Switzerland embrace all the good things the country has to offer. By helping people find the kinds of goods and services they need, I hope to make things a little easier while living in Switzerland.
The database originally started as a compilation of information I had collected from my first 10 years in Switzerland. My husband, Mark, and I moved there in 1990 when there was only the PTT offering phone service and phones (remember the Tritel that had a counter for the cost of your call?). There were virtually no American products on the market - certainly no Starbucks, no Ben & Jerry's, no Pepsi, no Diet Pepsi, no Cranberry Juice - basically not much choice when it came to shopping. It's amazing how many American products there are now and how huge the freezer sections at Migros and Coop have become! There was only Abend Verkauf on Thursday evenings just for the stores on the Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich and there was certainly NO Sunday shopping!
Life in Switzerland as an expat is very different today than it was even 5 years ago. As more and more foreign products are available coupled with the accessibility of email and the internet, living abroad today means having many more of the conveniences that people are used to at home.
That's not to say that integrating into another culture isn't easy. That's an entirely different ball game that is largely dependent on the attitude of the expat as well as the attitudes of the people you meet. For some it's much easier than for others. There are some great articles in our Article of the Month and Xpat 2 Xpat sections about just this.
I would also recommend many of the books published by Bergli Books (www.bergli.ch) which are all wonderfully written, sometimes humorous books that help us to understand the Swiss culture.
I work on the site daily - always trying to keep it up to date for the visitors. I try to listen to all the great ideas that people give me and incorporate them into the site.
In April 2010, I changed the look of The Xpat Xchange with a new logo and a new look for the website. We hope to be upgrading the site again in 2011 with a MUCH better, MUCH needed calendar for all the events!
And finally, in addition to the site, I've also added Facebook and Twitter - both for very different reasons. On Twitter you will find all new things on the site with a link! And on Facebook - I put out varying information from online articles to expat events to some basic news about Switzerland. Always looking to keep it interesting and informational.
I receive sometimes hundreds of emails and do my best to reply in a timely fashion. If for some reason you haven't heard back for a couple days, please email me again. It's easy for emails to fall to the bottom of the inbox, especially with the volume of emails I receive.
Thank you for taking the time to read.