One of the things that surprised me most upon arrival in Switzerland is how similar to college it feels. Before you roll your eyes and think I’ve lost my mind, hear me out. I know there are some obvious differences.
- I’m not 19 years old.
- My parents are not paying for me to be here.
- I’m working more than 12-15 hours per week.
- I have some disposable income.
- There’s no Skyline Chili in Switzerland.
But, in my opinion, there are several things that resemble aspects of my college experience, including:
- Small town. The population of Vevey is only slightly larger than that of the “townies” in Oxford
- Walking everywhere
- Late night group projects (only here we just call it “work”)
- Furnished temporary apartment
- Using the laundry bag. (God bless whoever bought this for me as a high school graduation gift! I have used it SO much over the past 11 years!)
- Eating in the dining hall…I mean, cafeteria
- Paying for meals at the office with my badge – better known at Miami as a “swipey card.” (Unfortunately, I am the one funding this card now, not my parents.)
- Dorm-size refrigerator in my temporary apartment for a few weeks while they repaired my real fridge (which isn’t that much larger than a dorm fridge to begin with)
- Large group meals – out at restaurants and in at people’s homes
- Impromtu mid-week hang outs
- And the biggest similarity…the expat community. I’ve moved to new US cities multiple times in my adult life, but I’ve never entered such an instantaneous community of potential friends. In college, everyone is in the same boat – away from home, most likely in a new city, and looking to make new friends. Here, the expat community is in the same situation – far away from home and looking for people to befriend.
We all know how much I adored college. I think these similarities bode well for my time as an expat in Switzerland…