Home

 

Getting Experience

- # of # Filtered -

Adventure In The Alps

Q&A with Amy: Worked in Switzerland
Share this
Print this
Amy
Worked in Switzerland
University of Waterloo
Her thoughts on The Application Process
To prepare for the interview I checked the company's site and the qualities they wanted in the ideal candidate. I wanted the interviewer to know I'd done my prep work. I was offered the job on the spot!
Her thoughts on Communicating Abroad
With younger children it was surprisingly easy to get my point across. When we did have problems communicating, we'd act out the words, which would often result in us laughing!
Her thoughts on Adaptation
The biggest challenge I found to living in the Alps was the altitude. For the first few weeks I was out of breath after just a short walk to work. As an avid runner, this was a big shock for me.
Her thoughts on Taking It All In
On a trip to Morocco, we drank tea in a cave home with an Arabic family, attended a Bedouin wedding and went on a camel trek in the desert – things I never dreamed I'd get to do!

Where did you work abroad? What was your position?

From May until August, I worked in a lovely little village in the Swiss Alps. The job was at an international boarding school in Leysin, Switzerland, where I worked as a student life coordinator. For the first two months, I worked with high school students in the recreation rooms at the school. Here I helped to provide entertainment for the students and I participated in the organization of several banquets and ceremonies. Then during July and August I worked as a recreation camp counselor for the school's summer camp program. I worked with eight- to 12-year-olds at an overnight camp supervising and organizing activities for them to participate in.

Describe the application, interview, and selection process. What made you successful?

I stumbled upon an advertisement for a position in Switzerland on my school's Web site. I am an avid traveler and take every opportunity I can to travel and explore new places. I'd been to Europe before, but not to Switzerland, so this was an ideal chance to visit and get paid at the same time. I reviewed my CV and adjusted it to enhance the qualifications that were relevant for the position. I also geared my cover letter directly toward this position and explained why I would be the perfect candidate! With these alterations I was selected for an interview. In order to prepare for the interview I checked out the company's site and the qualities that the company wanted from the ideal candidate. I dressed for the occasion. I wanted the interviewer to see that I wanted the job and that I had done my prep work. I was offered the job on the spot and was ecstatic!

How did you finance your trip abroad and did you find any creative solutions to stay on budget?

Luckily, the company I worked at in Switzerland not only provided accommodation and some food but also paid for my flight. In addition to this financial aid they paid a small salary to help with some of other expenses. Switzerland is an expensive country, so this money helped towards some of the activities that I participated in during my time off. One of the things that helped to reduce the budget was that all the visiting counselors to buy our groceries together and cook meals as a group on weekends. This was not only a great money saver but we all got to try different foods, as we were all from different cultural backgrounds.

Did you participate in extra-curricular or social activities through your work abroad? If so, how did they differ from social activities in your home culture?

During my time abroad I had a few spare long weekends and one week of vacation. Everyone that I was working with wanted to make the most of this time off, so we decided to do something we couldn't do at home. We went on a desert trek in Morocco. To save on money we took a flight on an economy airline to Malaga in Spain. From there we took a bus to Algeciras, then a ferry to Tangiers and then an overnight train to Marrakesh. It was a long trip but with the right company it was a lot of fun and we certainly saw more scenery than if we had taken a direct flight to Morocco. Once we were in Morocco, our adventure really began. It was amazing! We drank tea in a cave home with an Arabic family, attended a Bedouin wedding and went on a camel trek out into the desert "“ things I never dreamed I'd get to do! Another fun activity that was also a great friendship-builder was renting bikes and cycling around Lake Geneva, which is over 100 miles (about 180km). We all suffered from numb bums, bruises and cuts and even a couple of punctures, but it was well worth it. We bought loaves of bread and chunks of cheese from local stores and sat at the roadside eating and enjoying the scenery while we rested our weary bodies. It was a wonderfully exhausting adventure among great friends!

What was the biggest challenge in adapting to your international work environment?

You would think that one of the biggest challenges in working in an international environment would be difference in culture, especially language. But with younger children it was surprisingly easy to get a point across; and when we did have problems with communication we would try acting out the word, which would often result in us laughing. The biggest challenge I found to living in the Alps was the altitude. In Leysin we were 1,250 metres (4,100 feet) above sea level. Toronto, where I normally live, is only around 70 metres (230 feet) above sea level. For the first few weeks I was out of breath after just a short walk to work. As an avid runner, this was a big shock for me. I had to gradually build up my lung capacity in order to go for regular runs and not feel worn out. I also developed really dry skin due to the climate. I literally went through a tube of moisturizing cream a week.

What was the most important thing you learned about communicating in a foreign culture while you were working abroad?

The most important aspect of communicating in a different culture is taking risks! If you make the effort to try and speak their language and if you are willing to try and fit in, locals will truly appreciate this and help you. They appreciate the effort you make and when you make mistakes it's more of an icebreaker and makes your experience more enjoyable.

What are your future plans for going abroad and for your career?

I have had such wonderful experiences with my travels. I have experienced different cultures and now I want to see many more. I want to make traveling a regular part of my life. I have another work term before I finish university and I'm hoping to obtain a job where I will travel across Canada. I know that for me this is not technically "œabroad" but I want to see my own country and experience its diversity. Especially as one day I plan to live abroad.

I am hoping to set up my own business, which I hope to expand to become international. I'm not sure the exact details of my business but I'm hoping that I'll be able to make many new contacts during my travels. I'm very much a people person and as I can speak a number of languages I'm hoping that I'll be able to make the right connections and stumble upon an opportunity that will help me to achieve my goal of being an internationally-oriented business-owning professional.

Advice from MyWorldAbroad
Jean-Marc Hachey, Publisher

Amy is on the right track towards developing an international business career. She has traveled a lot, and she's already built language skills. Most importantly, she seems to be comfortable with taking risks, and this is a necessary ingredient in the international business world. Amy should consider going abroad as an intern or volunteer with the express purpose of developing managerial experience in a foreign culture. Amy might also consider international sales as a viable option for someone with her people skills and love of travel. Here are a few extra resources to assist those with the objective of becoming international entrepreneurs. (Note: you must log in to MyWorldAbroad to access the links below.)

  • International Studies In The US And Canada is a great list to research internationally-focused degrees, including business degrees.
  • International Associations With Clubs On Campus is a unique list of student clubs, many of which have a global business focus. Consider getting involved and/or partnering with others to start a club on your campus. One club in particular, AIESEC is known for offering outstanding international business internships.
  • International Trade Resources provides a wealth of resources to understand the unique skill sets that are required for international business.
  • The North American Identity is a section that offers unique insights into North American business norms. Understanding your own culture is an essential ingredient when striving to understand other cultures, and this section will get you off to an excellent start.
Amy's Next Steps
Advice from MyWorldAbroad
by the founder of MyWorldAbroad
Jean-Marc Hachey
Want to Have the Same Experience?
Want to Have the Same Experience?
10 Core Global Competencies
Take control of your career with this ESSENTIAL model!
Virtual Internships in 2021!
Remote work is the way of the future! Start planning YOUR virtual international internship now.
The Global You
What skills, knowledge and experiences can change your life? Find out with this NEW model!
Quizzes & Scorecard
Take these simple quizzes to assess your international skills, experiences & job search readiness!
The Culture Tree
EXPLORE the three levels of culture!
9748
- # of # Filtered -
  • 96
96
9767
Beyond The Call Of Duty In Africa
1
16174
An Empowering Virtual Internship in Nicaragua
2
9738
Living For The Moment In Valencia
3
9761
Communicating Creatively In Spain
4
9744
Food, Fun And Festivals In Germany
5
9757
Teaching And Learning In Tanzania
6
9770
Contributing To Change In Ghana
7
16161
A Bright & Friendly Cross-cultural Workspace
8
15401
From Korea to Oman: Teaching English Around the World!
9
16157
Cross-cultural Connections Online
10
16017
A Globally-minded Visit to Qatar
11
10204
Across Europe In A Caravan!
12
9790
Design And Dining In Korea
13
9789
Loving Life In Lyon
14
9758
Learning The Local Ways Of Addis Ababa
15
9781
A Hospital Helper In Costa Rica
16
11645
A Love Affair with Shanghai
17
12058
Architectural Adventures in Australia
18
11996
Daring to Go Solo in Ireland
19
9766
Short-Term Trips For Long-Term Gain
20
11845
Hospitality and Hosting in the DCR
21
15333
A Literary Education in the UK
22
10923
Insight And Education In Korea
23
14088
An Eye-opening Experience Teaching in South Korea
24
14483
Finding Home, By Teaching Abroad
25
14594
Growing Abroad: Hong Kong & South Korea
26
15347
12 Months, 12 Countries!
27
15383
Hustle and Bustle in Vietnam
28
15405
From Daydream to Reality: Teaching Abroad
29
15327
An Open Mind & Open Arms in Spain
30
15631
An International Career in the Making: Asia, Africa and Beyond
31
15387
Bliss on a Budget in Brazil
32
15644
Discovering the World on Campus: International Skills at Home
33
11467
Stepping Outside the Box in Sweden!
34
9737
Passionate About Panama
35
9752
Giving In Guatemala
36
9782
Making The Most Of Milano
37
9769
Getting Sporty In Switzerland!
38
9788
Business And Pleasure In Australia
39
9765
Simpatico in Florence
40
9753
A Season in Sweden
41
9787
A Spring Semester in London
42
9764
Do It Yourself! A Proactive Intern in Rome
43
9807
Fast Friendship in Korea
44
9784
Skill-building in Bonn
45
9741
Adapting to Work In Peru
46
9785
Motivated In Madagascar
47
11557
Un stage au Cambodge (Français)
48
9779
One Summer, Two Internships!
49
9760
Getting In Sync In Nairobi
50
9759
From Cold Feet To Confidence In Germany
51
9746
A Cross-Cultural Co-Op In West Africa
52
9773
Independent In India
53
9742
Take-Charge Travel: Germany And Beyond!
54
9776
Soaking Up Japanese Culture
55
10230
Getting Caffeinated In Bolivia
56
11468
Learning While Teaching in Beijing
57
9771
Learning To Love London
58
10145
Real Stories And Real People In Mexico
59
9762
American Freshman In London
60
9803
Ten Years Teaching In Seoul
61
9791
Making Contacts Count In The UK
62
10851
Tips From Tasmania
63
9799
Getting Settled In Seoul
64
10258
Encountering Cultures Across Europe
65
9772
Learning To Go With The Flow In France
66
10218
Adaptation And Appreciation In Japan
67
9786
Kids And Culture In Korea
68
9748
Adventure In The Alps
69
9747
Fun And Friends In The Netherlands
70
9750
Host Hospitality In Morocco
71
9754
Building Memories In India
72
9775
A Year Of Feeling French
73
9777
Into The Wild In Alaska
74
9812
Caring And Career Skills In Belize
75
10157
Changing Course In China
76
9740
Sports, Study And Fun In France
77
9778
Study And Adventure In New Zealand
78
9755
People, Places And Passionate Volunteering In Peru
79
11850
The Warmest Welcome in Guatemala
80
9783
Off The Beaten Path In Africa
81
9774
Gaga For Ghana!
82
9745
An Unforgettable Adventure In Nanjing
83
9792
Rolling With The Punches In Seoul
84
10188
Now Or Never In Colombia
85
11904
Enthusiasm, Education and Experience in Greece
86
10163
English Teaching In Eastern Europe
87
9768
Going Solo In Spain!
88
9743
Hooked On Volunteering!
89
10153
China, South Africa And Beyond!
90
9751
A Canadian Globe-Trotter Visits The US
91
10192
Out And About In Paris
92
9780
A Year In Marvelous Mexico!
93
9756
Springtime In Spain
94
10143
A Warm Welcome In Mexico
95
9763
A Professional Visit To Vietnam
96
9748
All Job Boards
463
All NGOs
1427
Au Pair Resources
39
Awards And Grants Resources
54
Business Directories
18
Canadian Federal, Provincial And Territorial Government Profiles
60
Canadian Government Resources
28
Children And Families Abroad
16
Consulting, Economic And Finance Job Boards
63
Country Guides
70
Cross-cultural Skills
80
Engineering Job Boards
59
Engineering Resources
81
Expatriate Networking Sites
32
Foreign Students Working in the US
9
Freelancing Abroad
27
General Job Search Books
15
Global Education And Social Action
45
Health And Medicine Job Boards
49
Health Career Resources
67
International Associations With Clubs on Campus
43
International Development Career Resources
75
International Internship Organizations
305
International Internships And Student Programs With Canadian Governments
31
International Internships With The US Government
37
International Job Hunting Resources
14
International Law Careers Resources
113
International Law Job Boards
26
International Studies In The US And Canada
11
International Trade Resources
25
International Volunteer Organizations
489
Internship Directories And Advice
37
Internships With The UN And Other IGOs
157
Language Careers
30
Learn A Language
106
Licensed Teacher Abroad Job Boards
29
Licensed Teacher Abroad Resources
31
Loans for Studying Abroad
18
Low-cost Travel
63
NGO Directories
33
NGO Job Boards
47
Re-entry
12
Regional Job Boards
102
Relocating Abroad
27
Resources For International Students Studying In Canada
17
Resources For International Students Studying In The US
46
Stories From Abroad
96
Study Abroad Resources
188
Teach English Abroad Job Boards
99
Teach English Abroad Resources
64
Tools for Travelers
73
Top International Blogs & Podcasts
84
Travel Health And Safety
39
UN and Other IGOs
269
UN And Other IGOs Job Boards
26
UN And Other IGOs Resources
73
US Government Profiles
76
US Government Resources
36
Virtual International Internship Organizations
78
Visas and Passports
26
Volunteer Directories And Advice
50
Women Living And Working Overseas
18
Working Holiday Resources
73