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When Expats Become Local Heros - "On the frontline in Switzerland"

After nearly a year of watching the Covid-19 crisis from the sidelines, IKEA expat partner

Annet van't Westeinde is delighted to be now assisting her host country’s public health


A call to arms

“I’m a public health nurse with a background in treating infectious diseases, so when the pandemic emerged, I was frustrated. I felt like I should be doing something. But, of course, I was in a new country and I knew it would take some time to get registered as a nurse,” says Annet, who moved to Switzerland in early 2020. “At one stage, I even considered moving back home, where I would have been able to find work in my field. I just wanted to be of value in a crisis.”

Language barrier

“In Switzerland, besides the administrative steps I had to take, I also had to improve my German to work inhealthcare. Due to social distancing I couldn’t join a class. However, luckily I was allowed to do a one-on-one class and I found a great tutor via UNUmondo. As I’d been unable to have much of a social life and meet new people, he became like a best friend to me!” says Annet, who also greatly appreciated her talks with Global Connection consultant Doris Betz and career coach Regina Reinhardt.

Too much expertise

“With Regina, I looked at some other possibilities, such as volunteering at a non-profit organisation. But I already had a volunteer role with the Dutch Probation Service, which I do in collaboration with the Dutch Embassy. Also, with a voluntary role, I wouldn’t be able to use my knowledge of treating infectious diseases as a nurse. If I simply wanted to have a job and earn money, another option might have been to find work

as a medical assistant. But, again, that wasn’t what I wanted,” says Annet, who eventually completed the registration process, and achieved the requisite B2 level for German, all of which put her in a position to resume her career in Switzerland.

All’s well that ends well

“It was a challenging year for me so I’m really happy that I managed to hold on and find work as a nurse at the Corona Centre, Test and Reference and Vaccination centre of the University of Zurich,” says Annet, who admits that the Swiss patients spot her ‘Niederländisch’ accent as soon as she opens her mouth. “I guess I need to keep working on my Swiss-German accent!”

Photo: Annet on the frontline

Copyright Global Connection Expat Partner Support B.V. | March 2021


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