Expat in Switzerland: Dealing with long-term guests

Expat in Switzerland: Dealing with long-term guests

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Writer and blogger Chantal Panozzo offers four helpful tips on hosting your friends and family during the holidays.

It’s that time of year again, when friends and family can’t wait to descend on their little expat. The problem is, the further you move from home, the longer your visitors come to stay.

It’s all great and fun for the first few days, until suddenly, you really have to pee and your father-in-law is on the toilet. Again.

It happens to the best of us. The big blowout where at about day five of their visit, you just can’t quite stand to have these people you (used to) love in your little European apartment anymore.

I know because I’ve been there. For almost four years, visitors have come and gone while I’ve laughed, cried, and sometimes even screamed.

Here are a few things to think about in dealing with your long-term guests:

1. Set parameters and make them clear from Day 1. For example, if you need to use the shower at 7:00 so you can get to work on time, make this known ahead of time so your mother-in-law doesn’t decide to start taking a bubble bath at 6:59.

2. Ask for help. It can be exhausting to entertain guests for days on end and you shouldn’t have to do everything. Some guests are naturally helpful and will do the dishes, buy you groceries, or even cook meals.

But others lounge around and expect you to serve them non-stop. So as your best friend from high school lies on the couch while you wash the dishes for the second day in a row, go over and ask her if she wouldn’t mind drying.

3. Keep time free for yourself.
Your friends and family are on vacation.

You’re not. Sometimes they forget this.

Even if you’re not at work, you may not be excited about running off to see the Chagall windows at the Fraumuenster Church for the 100th time since you’ve moved to Zurich.

That’s ok. Tell them you need some time alone and hand them a map.

4. You are not a tour guide. I love being a tour guide for about two days. But then it gets old. I have learned to let my guests tour things on their own.

They can do it. Even the ones that claim they can’t/are scared/will get lost.

They all make it back. And they’re usually pretty happy with themselves for being so adventurous.

How do you deal with long-term guests? Enquiring hosts want to know.




Chantal Panozzo is a writer and blogger. She’s the author of One Big Yodel and Writer Abroad. She also blogs for Affordable Calling Cards, a new expat community blog. This blog offers affordable calling cards in Switzerland as well as information about living abroad in Switzerland and in many other countries.

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