Switzerland has always been a popular expat hub because of its booming economy and high quality of life. But despite the advantages, it is natural for expats to experience culture shock or homesickness as they attempt to settle in a foreign country. Expats clubs serve as helpful aids during this transition period. Switzerland has a number of clubs and organizations that provide social support and networking opportunities for its members.Benefits of joining an expat club
• Expat clubs help you connect with people of your home country and also enable you to build relationships with people of other diverse communities. Such clubs thus serve as a bridge between cultures.
• They provide opportunities for socializing and networking across communities and nationalities.
• They help you stay in touch with your roots as many clubs host events that celebrate the major festivals of the country or community they represent.
• Members can discuss their experiences of settling in the country and thus offer advice and support for new residents.
• Expat clubs offer several facilities such as swimming pools, tennis courts, gymnasiums, libraries, restaurants and bars.
There is an initial fee to joining an expat club, but most clubs offer attractive membership schemes. There are also expat associations in Switzerland that may not provide the same facilities as clubs, but do organize many community activities.
Expat clubs in Switzerland
Here are some of the popular clubs in the country.
• American Club of Zurich
Established in 1957, the American Club of Zurich (ACZ) offers membership to American and Canadian citizens and also to people with strong ties to either country. The club was created to promote a spirit of community among Americans and Canadians in Zurich and to help them adjust to a new culture.
• English Speaking Club of Zurich
This club was initially created for people who wanted to speak English with each other. Since its birth in 1963, the English Speaking Club of Zurich (ESCZ) has grown in its membership and comprises of individuals belonging to various age groups and nationalities. The club’s activities have also expanded to guided tours of Zurich and other cultural events. Those interested can attend the first three events of the club, before deciding on seeking membership.
• American International Women’s Club of Geneva
Membership to the American International Women’s Club of Geneva (AIWC) is open to English-speaking women of all nationalities. It was started in 1958 and has about 700 members across 50 different nationalities today. The non-profit club aims to provide support and opportunities to build relationships amongst its members.
• Centrepoint Basel
Centrepoint is a non-profit organization in Lohnhof in central Basel, which is wholly run by volunteers. Its membership includes expats of diverse nationalities and also Swiss residents, and number more than 900 family and student members. Through various events, activities, partnerships and volunteering opportunities, Centrepoint works to promote a sense of community amongst its members.
• New Zealand Association of Switzerland
Aimed at bringing together New Zealanders from across Switzerland, the New Zealand Association of Switzerland hosts activities such as hiking, bowling, potluck dinners and picnics on a regular basis. The club also performs the important task of enabling new residents adapt to life in Switzerland. In order to obtain membership, you need to have a New Zealand passport or have strong associations to New Zealand. Relatives of New Zealanders are also eligible to join the club.
• Executives International
Located in Lausanne, Executives International strives to create a productive business environment for professionals. Established in 1968, the club conducts seminars, luncheons, dinners and cocktails aimed at enhancing the business interests of its members. This is a great place to network with the right business contacts and also receive professional advice from industry leaders and experts who speak at the club’s many events.
• Zurich Comedy Club (ZCC)
Founded in 1954, the club is a self-funded organization that is dedicated to performing different types of theater, mainly comedy. Since its creation, members have performed about 140 English plays, ranging from tragedies to comedies. Members are fluent English-speakers from all over the world that attend regular meetings where they select, discuss, practice and perform plays. A couple of times each year, the club puts up public performances that often attract large audiences.