PODCAST: Be scared, but do it anyway – survival guide to living in the Suisse Romandie

Wah gwaan HonuGuavers!

 

Moving across the globe takes guts. The home platform that supports you fosters safety and security. The moment you build the emotional momentum to take that one, single step forward, out over the unknown, you will forever be propelled forward, resolute to the motion of gravity. It is onerous to turn back.

This defining moment is life changing and sorry, but once gravity takes you, you are committed and can never entirely prepare yourself for what awaits you below. The result: your home platform will never look the same, but the second jump will never appear as alarming again.

This podcast reveals one woman’s jump from her sunny home base of Kingston, Jamaica into the depths of an icy Geneva, Switzerland. This session is for anyone curious about taking the plunge and relocating to Geneva for an internship/work opportunity or to further their studies from within the shadows of the grand Palace of Nations (or to gain a basic sense of the mindset needed to move to the uncharted destination of your choice.)

 

 

Sheree

 

“You need to get out of your comfort zone to grow… You can be scared, but do it anyway.”

Today we are introducing Sheree Anderson. Our wonder woman and lady of steel! Originally from Kingston, Jamaica, Sheree came to Geneva Switzerland for a Master in Economics from the Graduate Institute Geneva.

Her studies led her to an internship at the International Trade Centre  (ITC) in Sector Competitiveness and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration. Now on a traineeship with the International Committee of the Red Cross, she is exploring yet another side of the international organisations lifestyle that intertwine amongst the veins of Geneva’s living tissue, forever contributing to the character of the city.

(By the way, if you are looking for another awe-inspiring tale, we suggest you look up Mr. Henry Dunant, the founder of the Red Cross –

Jean Henry Dunant‘s life (May 8, 1828-October 30, 1910) is a study in contrasts. He was born into a wealthy home but died in a hospice; in middle age he juxtaposed great fame with total obscurity, and success in business with bankruptcy; in old age he was virtually exiled from the Genevan society of which he had once been an ornament and died in a lonely room, leaving a bitter testament. His passionate humanitarianism was the one constant in his life, and the Red Cross his living monument. – http://www.nobelprize.org/)

Sheree tours us around Geneva in her interview, and breaks down the white-wall barriers that protect the secrecy of life in Geneva through useful insights and tips from her experiences as a student and intern in the Suisse Romandie. Check it out:

The sweet and sour tastes of Geneva:

Luscious pros:

  • International network of good friends and coworkers – and when you travel you have the unique opportunity to live like a local and see the best sights and food joints there is to offer
  • An absolute feeling of purpose
  • Oportunity to travel for field work around the world
  • Convenience to explore being surrounded by five countries it is in the abdomen of Europe
  • Blabla car and SBB to travel around Switzerland – top skiing and hiking destinations
  • 2 to 11 month internships available
  • Easy to get by without knowing French
  • Meet-up groups present opportunities to practice other languages not only French
  • Overcome the challenges of living abroad to help you grow to be proactive and independent

Bitting cons:

  • Financial constraints – Unpaid internships in an expensive city
  • Possibility of having to work extra at side jobs or be willing to devote your savings to supporting yourself while interning/studying
  • Cost Breakdown
    • Housing: 750-1750 CHF for a one room in a shared apartment
    • Mandatory Health Insurance: 79-200 CHF (Swisscare)
    • Basic meal at a restaurant (pizza margarita and a coke): 25 CHF up
    • Kebabs (Best at the corner of Rue de Bern) or take out pizza (Plainpalais) : 10 CHF
    • Cocktail: 15 CHF up
    • Monthly Bus Pass: 70 CHF (45 CHF if under 25)
    • One hour on the bus anywhere in Geneva: 3CHF
    • Phone plan: 30CHF for basic (mine has internet and texting but only calls to three numbers) full/packed plan is usually 60CHF
    • Groceries from low cost to expensive: Grocery stores in France (Carrefour), Lidl, Denner, Migros, Coop, Manor
  • Different work cultures may present a challenge at times
  • Low chances of staying on after internship and then it is then often short three to six month consultancies
  • Can be difficult to practice your French as many people speak English so you have to push yourself to practice
  • Not the easiest place to meet people but their are social links in the tips to living in Switzerland below to help with this

International Organizations that Pay:

“Nothing I tell you is going to make a difference until you feel it for yourself and come out the other side like – oh shit I did it!”

So in conclusion, go for what you feel deep down will best moves and challenges you to grow. Try to keep step to the unknown rhythms that you new life will play out and don’t get discouraged if you fall out of time every once and a while. Have fun with it and remember to that the taking on new challenges is an exciting adventure. Keep in the moment, realise your taking on a great feat and that deserves admiration and self-respect. So get on it and move to what inspires you.

Key resources to takeaway:

Le Thé – Divine dumplings in Geneva that don’t drain your wallet 🙂

Graduate Institute – Sheree’s university that holds public events and lectures

Ackee – Jamaican fruit to try (but maybe don’t cook yourself)

International Trade Centre (ITC) – The location where this lovely lady walked into my life. ITC offers a trade assistance to small and medium enterprises, has a great small family working culture and fosters a feeling of close involvement to the projects that you will be working in.

Duolingo – Language Learning Website

Gruyere, Switzerland – Where you can eat your hearts desire of chocolate at the end of a 5 CHF tour of the Cailler Chocolate Factory for appetizer, followed by a steaming bowl of Fondue for your entry and meringue or nusstorte (nut cake) for desert. Also check out the designer of the creatures for Alien at the HR Giger Museum.

Glaris, Switzerland – scenic valley of farmlands nestled amongst the Glarsich mountains, home of the Läderach fine chocolate factory

Half of a Yellow Sun – to have a gripping read

Women Who Love Too Much – to be wise in  ❤

Funky Monkey Room – to dance you heart out in Geneva

Tips to living in Switzerland – 

  • Attend glocals.com or meetup.ch events – and please do at least one hike in the Swiss or French alps!
  • Join Facebook groups like: Geneva Interns Association, YEAH (Young Expats Alps Hiking), For Free, sale or Wanted in Geneva, UN Housing Interns, International Development Jobs for Young Professionals, or IHEID Job Network
  • Buy a train ticket on your phone for 3 CHF to anywhere in Geneva by texting TPG1 (or TPG2 if you have the 1/2 fare card) to 788
  • Plan on traveling around Switzerland? – Take a 1/2 fare card to have 1/2 off travel around Switzerland which is expensive. If under 25 it is great as for a small additional cost you can get the free after seven card to do just that, travel free anywhere from 7PM to 7AM.
  • French Courses (my top to least preferred): Migros école-club, !FAGE and Université Populaire 
  • 5 Myths about Switzerland
  • Enjoyed read: Swiss Watching: Inside the Land of Milk and Money
  • Top 10 Swiss Foods

 

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