Preparatory Workshop & Almuni Summer BBQ 2016

A diary from a Chinese student appears in our inventory ;-)

25. May 2016 - 07:30 am; as usually I check my mailbox before going to class. Apart from the usual info-mails of my university I spot an unknown mail-address finishing with Maybe I misread it, I am still quite sleepy. “The Science, Technology and Education Section of the Embassy of Switzerland in China kindly invites you to a preparatory workshop followed by an Summer BBQ dinner with Alumni of Swiss universities and Swiss exchange students in China.”

Wow! That was unexpected. I continue reading: “In order to prepare Chinese students for their upcoming study visit to Switzerland the event will consist of a first preparatory workshop which will give you a preview of your studies, a taste of the country’s cultural diversity, tips for job hunting and networking, and strategies to adjusting to life in Switzerland. During the delicious BBQ dinner you will be able to receive more information about your study destination and to network with fellow peers and alumni.”

I suddenly get nervous and excited at the same time! In a few months I will be in Switzerland discovering a whole new world. I quickly sign up for the event and start my day dreaming of my soon-to-come adventure in Switzerland.

03. June 2016 – 16:45 pm; Finally! I show my printed invitation letter at the front gate and enter Swiss territory. I hope I am not under-dressed, after all I am going to meet the Ambassador of Switzerland! I look around; probably I am not the only one with this concern. Before entering the garden I pass by an exhibition about Albert Einstein, discoverer of the theory of relativity, Nobel laureate in physics, University of Zurich alumnus and Swiss citizen. From where I am standing now I am able to peek into the embassy garden. Before entering it, I receive a tag with the name of the Swiss university I will study at next autumn. Thanks to the tag I quickly spot a future fellow student of mine and together we take place in front of an impressive LED-screen. After several minutes a young man takes the stage welcoming us and officially opening the preparatory workshop. I wonder if this is the Ambassador, although he seems too young to be so. I check the distributed program and see that it is Mr. Michael Waser, Deputy Head of the Science, Technology and Education Section. He gives the stage to Ms. Zhibo Qiu, a Graduate Institute Geneva alumnus who gives some useful tips on how to adapt to the life in Switzerland. Subsequently we get motivated by Mr. Florian Bornhauser from Schindler Elevator Co., who shares some insights on opportunities for returnees at Swiss companies in China and on how to apply for internship positions in Switzerland. Ms. Yining Huangfu from Switzerland Tourism then astonishes me once again with some beautiful pictures of Switzerland and its unique landscapes. This breathtaking scenery really makes me want to beam myself to Switzerland right now! I check the program again. Now Ms. Lara Fritschi, Attachée of the Science, Technology and Education Section takes the stage. Based on feedbacks from University of Zurich (UZH), she highlights some of the most common, potential challenges I might encounter in Switzerland and I can see by the surprised faces that I am not the only one hearing about the ‘dark’ side of Switzerland. Mr. Moritz Glatthard, student at PKU and former intern at the Swiss Consulate in Shanghai, concludes the workshop by encouraging us to ‘crack the nut’ and to actively interact and make friends with Swiss people when starting our studies. I will definitely try to do that!

I start looking around and spot some more future fellow students. Together we move towards the stage, where now H.E. Ambassador Jean-Jacques de Dardel festively opens the Alumni BBQ with an impressive speech. All the sudden I notice my stomach rumbling; no wonder! I haven’t eaten much today because of my nervousness! Lucky me the BBQ buffet is ready and I am able to get a first taste of Swiss food! The cheese is mouth-watering! I wonder if I will be able to wait until next September to taste it again…

After the delicious dinner we spot a photo booth where we take some memorable pictures together! Also we are able to get more information on Switzerland thanks to Switzerland Tourism and Swiss International Airlines, who provide very informative brochures and even flight-vouchers! As already advised during the workshop I take the chance to talk to Swiss alumni and the Embassy staff who share with me their own personal impressions about Switzerland and the universities.

Unfortunately time flies and the band plays its last song marking the end of the event. Full of new impressions, friends and even more pleasant anticipation I leave the Embassy of Switzerland in the hope to returning next year when I will be able to share my own exciting story.

04. June 2016 – 14:00 pm; my last piece of chocolate!  Now again I will have to wait three more months before I get to eat this delicious Chocolat Frey ‘Schoggi’. I check the goodie-bag again in the hope to find more of it, but I remain unlucky… Switzerland, I’m coming for you!