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“Moving to Switzerland gave me freedom”

07.10.2022 – educationsuisse

The Swiss Abroad Brigitte König came to Switzerland from Latin America for her education. Here she talks about her experiences.

“I grew up in Paraguay, South America. My father had met my mother on a trip around the world and so he emigrated to Paraguay. However, it was very important to him that we grew up speaking German. That’s why I spent my school years at a German school. The school holidays allowed us to travel to Switzerland often to visit my grandparents. This familiarised me with Swiss traditions at an early age.

When I was 16 years old, my father thought it was time for me to move to Switzerland to start professional training. However, I didn’t feel grown up enough and wasn’t ready to leave my life in Paraguay behind. In 2016, at the age of 18, I flew to Switzerland alone with mixed feelings. Only when I arrived in Switzerland did I realise that I was facing a completely new phase in my life. I had left my friends and family behind in South America.

Educationsuisse offers young Swiss Abroad counselling related to education in Switzerland. Photo provided

The traditional Paraguayan lives in the here and now and does not give much thought to tomorrow. Spontaneity is one of his strongest qualities and punctuality in South America means “I’m only one hour late.” Swiss punctuality was difficult for me at first. However, like other Swiss characteristics, I have come to appreciate it because it simplifies everyday life.

I also quickly became aware that Switzerland is a country full of different cultures. People from all over the world, with different religions and languages, can be found in this small country. I liked this multicultural diversity and was always discovering new things.

When I arrived in Switzerland, I worked in a restaurant in Bettmeralp during the winter season. Many of the staff on the alp came from all over the world and I got little of the Swiss culture. When the season ended, I moved in with my grandparents and slowly I made contacts through work and sport. I was also able to make friendships, which made my path easier and continue to this day.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do professionally or in which areas I saw my future. So, I decided to do an internship in service at a retirement home in Rheinfelden. After my internship, I did my apprenticeship as a hotel manageress in Basel, where I was able to build a life for myself, make contacts and cultivate friendships. The apprenticeship allowed me to grow as a person, to discover a passion for the organisational side, to create daily routines and to help with the scheduling of staff.

«Thanks to educationsuisse, I became independent and was able to successfully complete the training of my choice.» Photo: provided

Since I could not finance myself during the apprenticeship, I had to inquire about a scholarship. I contacted various institutions, including my home canton of Aargau, but unfortunately, I only received rejections. Through my grandfather, I became aware of educationsuisse. This organisation supported me in obtaining scholarships from the Willy Müller Foundation and the Hans Freiburghaus Fund of the Foundation for Swiss Abroad. Thanks to educationsuisse, I became independent and was able to successfully complete the training of my choice.

Moving to Switzerland gave me freedom, in the truest sense of the word, and allowed me to find and go my own way. The various encounters have shaped me and helped me find my own identity.

In September, I started part-time studies in social work at the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern FHNW in Muttenz. Meanwhile, I continue to work 50 percent as deputy chef de service, breakfast.”

educationsuisse, Alpenstrasse 26, 3006 Berne, Switzerland, email | | +41 31 356 61 04