When I last updated everyone, quite a while ago, I was heading off to Switzerland in early February, somewhat concerned about how things were going to unfold. Well, it turns out I had a right to be concerned. My service project didn’t end up coming to be because they no longer wanted “outside volunteers” in the center and when I went to got change the boss’s mind, he wasn’t there because his wife was having a baby. He also stopped responding to my emails and so did the people at the other center I tried to contact. Some people you will meet are just not very helpful.
In many other places losing one volunteer opportunity would be no problem because you could just pick another one up. In Switzerland this is not so. I asked about every person we know here if they had ideas and everyone basically came up with nothing. Nothing. How is that possible? This is another example of how Switzerland and America are very different. In Switzerland, if there is a job that needs to be done, someone is probably getting paid to do it. Everything here is part of a larger, complex, orderly structure. That structure just doesn’t have a place for not very well trained high school graduates from America, or other Swiss people for that matter.
My fist week was a swirl of personal hardships, like missing my family, finally confronting the heartbreak of a great loss in my family last August, and watching my volunteer opportunity slip away. I came out of it auditing three classes (in German) at the University of Bern about Colonization in Africa, Latin America in the Cold War, and Colonization and Imperialisms worldwide. I also started being an English conversation partner for my Grandmothers friend as a small volunteer effort. I was still looking for roommates to rent a room with so that I wouldn’t be living with my grandparents the whole spring, although I do love them very dearly.
It got easier once I accepted the fact that things hadn’t gone how I had planned, but that having a little bit of a break and taking some time just for myself was still very valuable. My friend from the States came to visit for a week, I got to go to Berlin for a week, and my parents came for a week of skiing. I really cant complain too much! Finally a wonderful opportunity fell into my lap that made me much less stressed about finding something to do until July. We contacted my mothers old friend who has lived in Rwanda for many years and she said I was welcome to come stay with them in May!!! So I’m going to Rwanda! I stopped worrying about finding a room to rent, I stopped worrying about finding a real volunteer job in Switzerland, making me much happier. I am going to a place I have never been before and I have no idea what I will find. This is also the big adventure piece that I feel like my gap year was missing. Everything has fallen into place, and I leave on Tuesday!