This blog post is going to serve as my pre-departure blog for the Switzerland leg of my gap year because I am leaving in less than a week! I want to focus on my goals as well as some things I am concerned about. Switzerland is a place that I have visited many times and I am going to be living in a city that I have spent lots of time in. I thought for a very long time about whether I wanted to spend part of this year in a place that was already so familiar as opposed to going on a big new adventure. I finally decided that it was the right choice because I am hoping that I will have a much deeper connection to my other country after actually living there for an extended amount of time. However, because I have a better idea of what to expect, I also have more worries about living there then I did in Switzerland.
For starters, I am very worried about being lonely. I don’t have very many friends in Switzerland and since I am not doing any kind of program, I will not be surrounded by people my age just waiting to make friends. Swiss people are also not known for being particularly warm and open to meeting new people. I am also worried about how and if I will find a place to live. I am just looking to rent a room in a apartment or a house but I don’t know who I will live with or what they will be like. Finally, while I am fairly confident that I have worked out the perfect service opportunity, nothing has been finalized yet so I am hoping that everything works out in that department as well. In short, I know that this could be a fantastic experience and I am hoping that I walk away thinking that I made the right choice but I worry that I bit off more than I could chew by trying to organize everything on my own.
The great part about going somewhere that I already feel comfortable is that I am hoping to have a bigger impact when it comes to my service than I did in Colombia. Assuming that everything works out and I am able to work at a center in Bern that houses refugees and asylum seekers, I have some ideas that I hope to implement. I had an internship at this center for a week a couple years ago and I know that there are usually quite a few children living there. I would really like to start a program within the center that allows the children to be enriched beyond just the school environment. These children are not part of any kind of after-school activities and their parents are not in the position to provide them with any kind of entertainment. I think it would be very valuable to take them places such as museums, gardens and tours of local businesses. These experiences would open their mind beyond the world of confinement, frustration and danger. In terms of my service activity, that is my main goal.
I leave for Switzerland knowing that even though I am a Swiss citizen and I have spent lots of time there, there will still be things that are challenging and interesting and different. This will be a very unique experience and I am prepared to squeeze everything I can out of it.