When people ask me why I had chosen to study in Switzerland let alone Neuchâtel for the year there was no clear answer. Perhaps it was the fact that I barely knew anything about Switzerland and wanted to try something different, not that I’ve ever traveled around Europe before, but I have a general knowledge of the countries offered such as France, Germany, Canada etc. There was just something about Switzerland that really intrigued me. Hence when the opportunity appeared before me – made possible through exchange – I figured ‘Why not? This would be a once in a lifetime chance for me’
Stepping foot onto the grounds of Neuchâtel, it really hadn’t occurred to me that I was in an entirely different continent mainly due to the fact that I had been focusing more on trying not to collapse from the long flight or how I was going to cope living independently for a whole year. My first few days were spent on trying to adjust to the new environment. Although I had overestimated the days it would take to do this (a month to settle in) and dealing with homesickness – It was all worth it in the end.
The first day I took a step outside of my apartment with no intentions of crossing items off my checklist was the day I was able to truly appreciate everything about Neuchâtel. The lake of Neuchâtel is truly and unbelievably magnificent. The clear blue water with the mountains in the background covered in snow (the snow does add more appeal to the landscape as it never snows in Sydney). Yeah sure it might not be great as the Eiffel Tower or the Northern Lights in Finland for some people but the feeling I got whilst walking along the pier for me was a life changer. I was never really an explorer type of person but from that moment onwards, looking at lake which seemed to go on forever to who knows where I knew there were so many things I needed to do, to discover, witness and to experience. And thus an ultimate goal for before I leave was developed; to make my way around the whole lake of Neuchâtel – that and to do as much waster sport activities as I can. Yes, I do sound a bit obsessed with the lake, but you’d have to see it yourself to understand.
And that’s just the view from my balcony, it’s definitely breath taking along the pier.
But I guess that goal wouldn’t be too difficult to fulfill. Neuchâtel is a very small canton and the public transport in Switzerland stops about nearly everywhere (some stops are even only a two minute walk apart). Although the weather is cold now, I could definitely see myself coming to this place to relax after either an intense day or to relax even more. I’m almost tempted to drag my table and chair down by the pier to study in the sun (spring is approaching!!!).
It has only been just over a month and I feel like so much has happened already. Living in a different country can change your perspective and values in life.
Neuchâtel may not have the bright city lights, busy streets or abundant shops, it still is definitely worth exploring. And even though some might think that it will take less than a day just to visit the main attractions of Neuchâtel, I still think a year isn’t enough. That and also because I’m a student here, so I have other priorities. I’m glad that I am studying abroad. Exchange has provided me the opportunity to expand my knowledge outside of Australia. It has made me realize that no amount of research on a particular culture can compare to actually being immersed into that culture. There are so many things that I have done (that couldn’t be done in Australia) and still so much more I have yet to do. I’ve had such a fantastic time so far and it is just the beginning. Things can only get better from here.
Romance abroad. I’ll never forget you Pierre 🙂