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the Basel Journal

A small selection of articles I have written for “The Basel Journal” (online edition).

One door closed on fish & chips – …
Many expats – and even some locals – just love fish & chips. After a sudden burst on the scene of the places where you could get one of Britain’s favourite fast foods, one of them has closed – but only temporarily, as it seems.

English even for emergencies
English-speaking expats can relax: their calls – in English – to the emergency services will be answered, even if other expats say differently.

The little differences: 1. To shake or not to shake
When people with German as mother tongue meet, they almost always shake hands. Native English speakers, on the other hand, tend to hold back – with this article The Basel Journal starts a series on the small cultural differences observed between Basel locals and people who have moved here from the Anglophone world.

The little differences: 2. Thumbs crossed, Fingers squeezed
Expats and locals alike wish each other luck sometimes – but they do it their own way. 

The little differences: 3. One for all, or everybody for themselves
The biggest number of small cultural differences between expats and locals, it seems, emerge when you’re enjoying a drink or two.

The little differences: 4. Two years of queuing
It is part of every Brit’s DNA. It is “Britain’s contribution to civilisation”. And it is an art that locals in Basel do not seem to have mastered: queuing.

The little differences: 5. Swiss public transport – a disappearing advantage
Swiss trains (and buses and trams) run like clockwork, while public transport in the UK at least is a disaster – that seems to be the general perception. Judging by recent experiences, the gap might be closing.

The little differences: 6. Bare facts
Peel all their layers of clothing away, and you will still find quite a difference between locals and expats – in their attitude towards being exactly what they then are: naked.

The little differences: 7. Gas bill as ID
For Swiss people (and perhaps many expats now living here) it is completely natural to always carry either a passport or an ID card on them.

The little differences: 8. The kissing question
For locals and expats in Basel alike there is only one certainty when it comes to men and women greeting each other: there seem to be no clear-cut rules.

The little differences 9: Rules, rules, nothing but rules
On Sundays, you are not allowed to hang up clothes to dry, nor to wash the car or mow the lawn; and after 10 pm on any day of the week you can play music at moderate volume only. Expats have trouble with regulations that seem (almost) normal for the locals.

The little differences 10: Enjoy your meal
We all eat. But what we eat, especially what we like to eat most, and our attitude to food – here, locals and expats can differ. And yet, they may have more in common than you think.

Laudable attempt with unintended side-effects
The Washington Times recently tried to give its readers some insights into Switzerland, with somewhat unusual examples…