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  • SwissCommunity

A story of integration

16.09.2020 – Ruth von Gunten, educationsuisse

Educationsuisse provides advice to young Swiss Abroad who come to Switzerland to further their education. Raquel Weidmann is one such expatriate. She talked to us about her experiences after arriving in Switzerland.

“My grandparents emigrated many years ago from the Zurich Oberland to Argentina. Consequently, my father grew up in a Swiss colony. Together with my mother, my family later settled in Puerto Rico Misiones. I was born in 1995, the youngest of two sisters. Our parents told us that going to school was very important. For my six years of secondary school education, I moved 45 kilometres away to attend the Instituto Linea Cuchilla school in my father’s home village of Ruiz de Montoya. In addition to classroom learning, we always did lots of practical work during my time there.

The opportunity to come to Switzerland presented itself after I finished school. My parents’ former neighbours, who had remigrated from Argentina to Switzerland, offered to let me live with them. I therefore decided to move to Switzerland without any knowledge of the language or culture.

I had great expectations of what awaited me, but quickly realised that things would not necessarily be so easy. At the beginning I found it hard to accept that my good school qualifications counted for little in Switzerland. The culture and the language were new to me, the world of work even more so. My parents had always impressed on us the importance of getting a university degree that would stand us in good stead for the future. It was in Switzerland that I learned that doing an apprenticeship was a viable alternative. Starting from square one was not what I had planned, but that is exactly what I did. During my integration year, I picked up the language and learned a lot about Swiss culture and the work environment. My teachers were very helpful and committed to each and every student. Time in the classroom was supplemented by weekly one-day work placements in various professional settings. The integration year was very useful, and I am grateful that Switzerland offers it as an option.

I got to know my current employer during a trial traineeship. I did an internship in my first year, followed by a three-year apprenticeship as a childcare specialist – which I finished in summer 2019. Not only do I still work as a childcare specialist at the nursery school that took me on as an intern, but I am also preparing to study as a social education worker. This two-year course will take place at the Agogis training centre in Olten, culminating in a Federal Diploma HF (College of Higher Education).

I would not have been able to do vocational training without the support of educationsuisse and a scholarship from my home canton of Zurich. I very much appreciated the individual advice and assistance that I received from educationsuisse.”

Testimonies from young Swiss Abroad are regularly published on the educationsuisse Facebook page and at

educationsuisse, Ausbildung in der Schweiz, Alpenstrasse 26, 3006 Bern, SCHWEIZ, Tel. +41 31 356 61 04;;