As a mother, corporate and the founder of this The Swiss Story, I know what it takes to restart your life and follow your passion. Being a content creator in a new country was equally exciting and challenging for me! Today, let’s get to talk to the co-founder of SwissPats, Suzi Lyon, on how they started their journey, what it takes to do this week on week and what are her top tips for new expats in Switzerland.
Suzi Lyon was born and raised in Australia, when she was 18, she picked her backpack and moved across the world to England. “It was my first ever plane trip, solo trip, and experience of living without family,” says Suzi. She met her Australian husband in Scotland and continued to date for 18 months after which they decided to take it to the next level. Bruce and Suzi got married in Croatia. “We eloped…which still a sore point for our mums”, she says. They settled in London and lived everywhere there. Suzi is a mother of two: Nora and Sadie. After Nora was born Suzi joined the police force, first as a community officer and later as a constable.
“Helping people and interacting was always my strong point, so this was a job I sincerely loved”.
When her husband got a job offer in Switzerland, Suzi decided to give up her job and took on the role of a trailing spouse. “On 31st December 2014, we arrived in Basel with a plan to stay for 3 years… we’ve now been here 5 years and have no plans to leave!”
When Suzi moved to Basel she knew that she needed to fill her time with something, but not knowing German and her skill set being police work, she knew there were limitations. Suzi had always wanted to work in radio/TV but she never pursued it. “I heard about a community radio station in Basel so I wrote an email basically begging to then to help out in any capacity.” To her surprise, they said yes and just after the first meeting, Suzi was invited to be on-air. “It was a dream come true and I was so happy for the opportunity.” This was where (at Radio X) Suzi met Don, they were on the air together, and that’s when Suzi realized that they had great chemistry. Suzi decided to take another leap of faith, one night after a couple of beers she asked Don if he’d like to work together, outside of the radio. Don came with a lot of experience and knowledge in the media world, and Suzi wasn’t sure if he’d be interested. To her surprise, he said YES! And SwissPats was BORN!
“When SwissPats started, we were just winging it, seeing how it went and having fun. Now 3 years and over 100 guests later we are still winging it, and having fun, we sure have added a bit more structure lately!”
SwissPats has a bunch of different series to appeal to different kinds of ex-pats. They do a monthly podcast called “What’s Happening in Switzerland?” where they talk about events that they think listeners will find interesting, and a weekly podcast which includes a guest – someone who is inspiring and interesting. Their “how-to” series is quite a hit with ex-pats – here they give insights on weird and wonderful things in Switzerland, like finding second-hand furniture, recycling, tram and train systems among other things.
You can listen to them on Itunes, Spotify, Google Play and others, or directly on their website at www.swisspats.com.
Why a podcast and not a blog/youtube/another channel?
“We noticed that there were not any weekly podcasts dedicated to expats in Switzerland. We felt we could help in that area. We did like the idea of having a YouTube channel, and we also produced some videos, however, creating videos is not of our skillset. It was extremely time consuming and we decided to stick with our strength – podcasting.”
A regular day in the life of Swisspats
When they are podcasting, Don and Suzi meet up and have a set routine of recording (new segments, their radio spot on World Radio Switzerland and administrative activities). During the week they meet up with their guests and record their segments. Finally, they splice the news and guest spot together and release a new episode every Wednesday morning.
Their Vision forward
This is the part where Suzi gets sad. “As ex-pats, one of the things we regularly discuss is that friends come and go, we get jobs and we move on, to other cities or new countries, or back home. This is a reality of being an expat, in any country. You make friends, those friends can feel like your family especially when your real family is so far away.”
“Don will soon move back to the US, and so the future of SwissPats will look different. It will continue! But it will be different. There will be a huge Don shaped hole when he leaves, but the foundation of SwissPats will always remain, all because of him.”
Since Don is leaving, SwissPats will go through a period of change – Suzi has many ideas and plans for the future, there may be a new co-host, maybe there won’t be! Time will tell…
One instance that made it all worthwhile
Over the years SwissPats have had some impressive guests, Swisscom and SBB are big names on the list, but they’ve also had equally impressive people pursuing different journeys. From ski instructors to chocolate makers, to a cowbell company, and even local stylists, their experiences have only made them grow. Every time a brand or a company agreed to do a giveaway with them, every time they made personal connections and every time someone asks her, “Excuse me, are you, Suzi, from SwissPats?” all of these have been their special highlights!
Top 3 tips for new expats
- Meet people, get on FB and join every group in your new city – right from buy and sell forums to meet up pages. This is how you make new friends and sometimes even strong connections. Suzi recommends, Women Rock Switzerland and A Shropshire Lad In Switzerland on Facebook. (I do too!)
- Don’t be afraid of trying something new. “Can’t believe I am saying this, I am usually a scared cat and I am afraid of failure but I tried something new and I think it paid off!”
- Finally, embrace the ex-pat life. “I know it’s not easy, but find what makes you happy in a new country and run with it!”
While an expat experience allows you to paint a new canvas, it also comes with its own set of challenges. One such challenge is where friends (who become family) leave, I have experienced this first hand as well and it wasn’t an easy experience.
Stay tuned for more expat stories, we have a ton lined up!
Thanks for giving our travel project “21 Hidden Gems of Switzerland” so much LOVE! The guide is absolutely free to download, so get your copy today.
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