Open House at the Geneva English School – Saturday 14th March

The Geneva English School, set in lovely grounds in picturesque Genthod with view of the lake and Mont Blanc, is holding an Open Day on Saturday 14th March from 09:30 – 12:00.

The school is a not-for-profit co-educational international school for children aged 3 to 11. The Open Day is is an ideal opportunity to visit the school, see the classrooms, talk to the headmaster and find out about the school’s curriculum which is based on the English National Curriculum and which includes a strong French programme for all groups throughout the week.

It’s also a good opportunity to check out the Library Learning Centre with its cosy new reading room which was opened by children’s author Anne Fine in October last year.  Register here


Photo above – A room with a view and a choice of children’s books!


Online reading and a cosy sofa!




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Geneva English School 021

Open Day at Conservatoire, Support a sponsored hike by a St Cergue resident

Tomorrow Saturday 5th April it’s Open Day/ Portes Ouvertes at the Conservatoire de L’Ouest Vaudois in both Nyon and Morges, from 10:00 to 16:00.

This prestigious music school will be open for the public to visit to find out more about the school’s courses.  Adults and children alike can learn about playing  an instrument from guitar to piano and drums. The school has its own choir and theatre group too.  There will be workshops at the Open Day for children from 3 years old and mini concerts performed by pupils at the school throughout the day. Many of the teachers at the Conservatoire speak English, so go along to find out more!


If you have never been to the conservatoire in Nyon,  it’s worth visiting just to take a peek inside this lovely old building along the lake side.

Also, on Sunday 6th April, there will be an afternoon concert at the Conservatoire at 17:00 called La Sauve Melodia, details here

Portes Ouvertes COV

Living in Nyon is always happy to consider submissions from readers and we are delighted to publish this short article by Diantha Terry.

Diantha moved with her family to the Canton of Vaud with her family five years ago and she has written a little about living in the village of St Cergue.  Diantha is about to embark on a sponsored hike in the Himalayas to raise money for Hope for Children. If you would like to read more about the charity or to sponsor her, then read on.

Diantha Terry in St Cergue

I started my career as a nurse and then worked in the pharmaceutical industry for more than 13 years.  We moved with our children, to Switzerland in 2009 when my husband took up a position with the World Health Organisation.  We were keen to continue living in a village environment as we had done in the UK, so chose to live 30 minutes outside Geneva first in the pretty village of Genolier, near Nyon, and then in St Cergue.  St Cergue is nestled in the Jura mountains and often has snow on the ground for 4 months of the year which keep its two small ski slopes  running even at night with floodlit events.

St Cergue

Photo above by Diantha Terry   St Cergue in the snow

We both wanted our children to feel part of the community they grew up in and so we sent them to the local Swiss schools. The state is very supportive and the children, who were 6 and 7 when they moved, received a lot of free extra tuition.  For us it was the best decision we made. They are both well settled and speak fluently in French at school and with their friends, and they are also learning German.

We all love the variety of outdoor activities that living in Switzerland offers, with skiing and snow sports in the winter and hiking and the lakes to enjoy in the summer. Living in St-Cergue is a true delight as so much of the outdoors is accessible and you will often find me out walking my dogs in the Jura countryside.

Desalpe 1

Photo above – The Desalpe in St Cergue

Having had such a fortunate change to our lives, by moving to Switzerland, and being very conscious of the opportunities open to us, we as a family feel it is very important to support people whose lives are not so fortunate.

In 2004 I led a successful fundraising campaign in our Cambridgeshire village and the money raised enabled a number of primary schools in Sri Lanka to be re-equipped following the devastation caused by the tsunami. (My own parents made the move from Sri Lanka to the UK in the 1970’s.)

This year, in April, I am undertaking a sponsored hike in the Himalayas for one week, to raise money for the UK-based charity Hope for Children.

HOPE is a fantastic charity that helps orphaned, disabled, poor and exploited children across Asia, Africa and Europe.  If you would like to be part of giving something more to children who have less, please visit my fund-raising page here.  Every donation is valuable, whatever size!

My target was to raise £2000 and I’m almost there.

Diantha cropped

 Photo above – Diantha Terry

Learning the language to help your integration into Switzerland

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Bonjour, parlez-vous anglais s’il vous plaît?  – Learning the language to help integration into Switzerland

Here is an excellent article written by Melina Hiralal on learning a language to help integration into  Switzerland.  She gives tips, hints and advice and recommends a good language learning website. Read on to find out how a recent trip to Australia made her reflect that language is more than a tool for integration, but is also a way of showing respect for the culture you are a guest of.

American busker 2

Melina Hiralal is a cross cultural consultant and lives near Nyon and she works with companies, families and individuals offering training and assistance during both the expatriation and the repatriation process.  This is her second article in a series on expatriate issues  (read her first here)and says that sometimes, ”living in an unfamiliar culture is like watching a foreign film without sub-titles”. If  you would like advice from Melina you can contact her at

Bonjour, parlez-vous anglais s’il vous plaît?

We’ve all been in a shop or on public transport and heard variations of this sentence. Language is one of the primary tools needed to facilitate integration when you arrive at the new location which you will be calling home for the next couple of years. In the Lac Léman region, the answer will increasingly be “yes” and information can be exchanged and transactions made in a manner that is satisfactory to both parties. Language is also one of the keys to understanding the culture you are living in and a simple grasp of French enables you to participate in local, daily life. For many expats however, mastering the local language represents a real challenge as they often have no real need for it to accomplish the job they were hired for.  The Lac Léman area is filled with English-speakers and expats can definitely get by with little or no knowledge of French.

However, on a recent trip to Australia, I was fortunate enough to spend some time with an Aboriginal in Sydney who started by telling me that in order to speak his own language and tell his own stories during the tour (he was not a native of Sydney) he had needed to ask permission from the elders of the Sydney tribes. From Aboriginal Australia to La Côte, I realised that language is more than a tool for integration but also a way to show respect for the culture you are a guest of.  Plunging ahead in your mother-tongue without asking permission to use it is just plain rude in both hemispheres!  Asking permission first (using the local language) does not need perfect language skills and can be reduced to one sentence learned parrot-style. Starting conversations with this one sentence is more respectful; it will result in a more pleasant interaction with the local population, and will generate a lot more goodwill than doing the opposite. The Swiss, more than others, have an understanding of linguistic challenges and many have faced similar difficulties on crossing the language frontier of the “Rösti fence” at some point in their lives. Therefore, most will empathise and be respectful of your attempts. So how can an expat, with little time to devote to learning a new language, learn enough to get by and participate more in local life?

Benny Lewis from the website Fluent in Three Months strongly encourages immediately abandoning the mother-tongue wherever possible. This may seem daunting but he gives an easy example illustrating how this can be done. When visiting a restaurant, he recommends asking for both the English and the local menus. The layouts are often similar (sometimes there are even pictures) and the English menu will help you to choose what you would like to eat. When it comes to ordering, you use the local one and a combination of language and pointing will probably be enough to obtain what you want.

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Take language lessons: a true beginner will need to have a few lessons, and it can save time if you look for a course using teaching methods where language is taught in “chunks” or phrases that are useful, rather than those culminating in a dissertation on “Les Misérables”.

Join a local association: a brave friend of mine joined the local fire brigade and ended up not only learning better french but meeting his neighbours which increased his sense of belonging to the village.

Join a local club: pick an activity that you are already familiar with and instead of joining the expat one, join the local one; this can be anything from singing in a choir, playing bridge, sports-related, etc.

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 Take up a course: instead of a language course, pick a creative course from the long list of the Ecole Club Migros for example. Don’t be tempted by their few courses taught in English, and endeavour to learn how to cook Thai food, sew your own clothes, or do Ikebana all in French.  This is true learning by doing and when you miss “the middle bit” of the teacher’s explanation, you’ll just need to look around at what the others are doing and follow suit. As well as increasing your language competence and possibly learning a new skill, another positive aspect of all these activities is that you will meet new people. You may not become best friends, but they can be helpful sources of information for you. Finally, as familiarity grows, you will begin to feel less of a newcomer and more at home and at ease in your surroundings.

Photo below – Melina Hiralal

Melina Hiralal for blog

Want to know more about the public and private schools in Switzerland? Two day student fair next week in Vaud

If you are looking for a school for your child or want to know more about the educational opportunities available in Switzerland, then the Léman Expat Student Fair is a “must visit” event which will take place next week in Lausanne on Wednesday 13th and  Thursday 14th March. Free entry by registering online in advance! (or pay CHF 10 on the day) 

Wednesday 13 March from 11:00 – 18:15  will be specific to the youngest students in kindergarten to pre-teen age.

Thursday 14 March from 10:00 – 20:00 will be for students from teen-age up to university and graduate age.

There will be information, presentations and informal discussions on international schools, local school system, academic support, all forms of special needs, education (autism, ADHD, dyslexia, intellectually gifted children, etc)  during this one event.  Discover and learn what’s in store for students in Switzerland.



Les Hivernales begins, Open day at Lake Léman School on Saturday, “Up with People” looking for host families

A reminder that “Les Hivernales”, the rock and beat festival has begun and continues over the weekend in Nyon -see previous post here for more details and listen to an  interview about the festival here

Saturday March 2nd – Open Day at Lake Leman International School in Morges  

Open Day  from 11:00 to 15:00 Meet the teachers and the LLIS management, discover the Primary and Secondary School and enjoy the day’s activities with your children.

The open day starts at 11:00 at the school:

  • From 11:00 to 12:00 Presentation of the website by the Secondary school students
  • From 12:00 to 14:00 – Soccer practice
  • From 13:30 to  14:15  – Story telling
  • From 14:15  to  15:00 – Art workshop

Snacks and drinks provided all day. LLIS School- Avenue de la Gottaz 34-36, 1110 Morges, Switzerland –  See school website here

Business and Professional Women Switzerland – Networking dinner

Candlelight Ceremony & Networking dinner –  Thursday, March 14th 2013, at the Restaurant du Casino in Rolle

This tradition is celebrated by all the BPW clubs around the world to remind them of the international solidarity and resources of the global association. It is  an  opportunity to discover what BPW has to offer. More details click here 

Host families required for “Up with People”  March 18-25 

Up with People is a global education and service programme focused on bringing the world together through service and music. The international cast of 120 students from 20 countries will be travelling to Geneva on March 18 for a one week stay. During their time in the area they will live with local host families, volunteer in the local community and perform 2 international shows at the Salle Communale de Versoix.

 Homes needed for 120 cast members

Can you provide a place to sleep, breakfast and dinner and give limited transportation (outside of the centre of Geneva) in the mornings and evenings from March 18-25?  If so, you’ll receive 2 complimentary tickets to the show for hosting.

Photo above  – the cast from a previous show – courtesy “Up with People”

The 120-member cast is between the ages of 18 and 29 years old and represents 20 different countries. Cast members are out of the house during regular business hours, volunteering, rehearsing or taking part in educational workshops. Sunday March 24, is a ‘host family day,’ you may choose to show them , include them in a family event or simply relax at home. If you have any questions please feel free to contact the Advance Team:

Contact Katie Baudler at 079 155 37 13 or with questions or for more information.

See the show  ‘Voices’

Salle Communale Lachenal à Versoix à  19:30 the 20th and 21st March.

Tickets available now click here