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Reflections From Around the World
From Switzerland...by Gertrud
Leaving Beautiful Switzerland
I had no idea that my decision to go to the United States for a year would change my life forever...nor did I know that I was not going to return to Switzerland to live there again.
All I knew when I set foot on US territory, was that the stars looked the same as back home and that was a big relief!
My English at the time was limited, having studied the language for only one year plus an eight-month stay in "Jolly Old England." Oh how I disliked that stay. America was going to be much better!
Openness and Possibilities
What I immediately appreciated about the United States is the "wide-openness" of the country and the possibilities. Everyone is encouraged to fulfill their dream. One can go back to school if necessary, but by all means "be the best you can be." This is what made me fall in love with this country. The fact that I was not limited to one way of thinking or one way of looking at something was very appealing. In Switzerland the thinking is sometimes boxed. Once a career path is chosen, it's difficult to change it.
Why the Competition?
I was a bit shocked about the competition that goes on in the schools. You have to try out for virtually everything! I still don't understand why schools can't have football, band, cheerleaders, etc. just for the fun of it. Only "the best" get to participate, and that's a letdown for others who aren't quite as talented. I don't like that at all.
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Another surprise for me was the pageantry that goes on in high schools with the Homecoming Queen, running for Class President, etc. This and all that tryout stuff are rather foreign to me. We don't have anything like that in Switzerland.
America: Everything to the "Max"
My experience has been that Americans, in general, tend to hysteria - everything is covered to the "max." There's not much moderation, be it working, recreation or following the news. Unfortunately, Switzerland has started to follow the United States model for news coverage. It's sensationalist and sometimes-downright distasteful.
Still, I'm glad I live here now, and I'm getting used to the differences. Leaving Switzerland was good for me. Although I do miss my homeland, I have grown and stretched to a level I never would have, had I stayed back home. I've learned new things about myself and found out that I have talents I never would have discovered.
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ESL Ministry Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church 1801 Lacassie Avenue Walnut Creek California 94596 925-935-1574 Joanne Rae Meads firstname.lastname@example.org Updated September 16, 1999