“i am not a tourist” Expat Fair organiser Danielle de Groot

“Our aim is to bring internationals together and help them feel at home.”

What’s your expat story?
My Dutch partner landed a job in Switzerland in the summer of 2001. As we were not married I could not join him straightaway because visas were only issued to married partners. I got my job and visa at the end of that year. On 30 December 2001 I arrived in a sleepy village near Zurich. And of course on New Years Eve we let off the fireworks I’d brought with me. Next morning we found the remains of our fireworks piled up beside our mail box and a note from one of our neighbours saying he did not appreciate our nocturnal attack on his property! After this blooper we settled in fine. We spent 4.5 years in Switzerland and our eldest child was born in Zurich. We made many Swiss friends and took every opportunity to enjoy Swiss life.

Was there an equivalent of the “i am not a tourist” Expat Fair there’?
No, but we had good colleagues who helped us find our feet. And as we spoke High German we encountered no language problems.

Can you give any tips for settling back down in your home country?
When I left the Netherlands for Switzerland I was not even married. We tied the knot out there and I came back with a toddler and heavily pregnant with our second child. My life had changed completely! And the same was true of my family and friends. I thought that coming back would be a piece of cake. But to be honest it was more like moving to a new country than coming back home. So my tip is don’t expect to hit the ground running.

Read the full interview