Making Connections – Basel
Find Your Home in Basel
By Meaghan Renner
Editor’s note: We edited this piece to meet the blog’s requirements.
A Bit About Me
I was utterly overwhelmed when I first arrived in Basel from Canada in 2018. I felt like a fish out of water, having left my extended family behind and not knowing a word of German. My husband went to work and spent his day speaking English. Conversely, as the “trailing spouse”, I had to navigate a new world and language entirely on my own.
As I figured out everything from light fixtures to recycling to school systems in an unfamiliar language, I wondered, “Why does it need to be so hard?”. Also, “Why is none of this information passed on?”
For the number of expatriates that go through Basel, it seems crazy that each new arrival must figure everything out independently.
Settle, Connect and Thrive
Those new to Basel would only have more energy to explore and see the city’s many offerings once they feel settled. With this in mind, I started the “You Belong in Basel” website. It provides essential information to make newcomers feel more comfortable, for example, about local transportation, shopping places, etc.
With the help of some fantastic contributors, I formed the “Discover” section. It delivers tips for learning German, what to do with your kids and much more. The page also features organisations people can join to get involved in the community – including the Basel Children’s Trust (BCT).
Finding Hidden Gems
Basel is a wonderful place to live with fantastic restaurants, shops and venues in this city. However, it’s very understated, and you might never find them unless someone shows you where they are. I discovered this when I became more comfortable speaking German and began to explore the area.
I wanted to find all the hidden treasures Basel had to offer and write about them. This way, others could also experience them. With the help of some awesome volunteers, I have been systematically walking Basel’s neighbourhoods (almost every street). I want to help others experience Basel more fully and strengthen their connection to the city.
The Perfect Location for Travel
One of the other amazing things about Basel is its location. Coming from Canada, I was used to driving eight hours and still being in… Canada.
The endless possibilities can be overwhelming to newcomers. With this in mind, the website’s “Travel” section offers numerous suggestions for day and weekend trips within 3 hours of Basel. Here, you can have breakfast in Germany, lunch in Switzerland and dinner in France.
Finding a New Purpose
Being a “trailing spouse” has made me sensitive to the struggles of others in the same position. Not only do you need to navigate a new city and perhaps a new language, but there is also an element of redefining yourself.
In Canada, I knew who I was. I had my friends, family, and job, but leaving all that behind, I realised I needed to redefine myself and find a new purpose.
This website is an essential purpose for me, and I hope it can also be for others.
Community Building and Making Connections
The “Join” section welcomes contributors’ involvement. These can include writing articles or blurbs. Or lending help to explore neighbourhoods or other collaborations. Hopefully, volunteers can find their purpose by participating and developing a greater connection to the city and the community.
For me, this website is about community building and making connections. I have grown to love Basel, its culture and people, and I hope that by showing all it has to offer, others will love it here too.