Switzerland, the Heidi Land
Switzerland, the Heidi Land
  • Lee Taehee / Guest Reporter
  • 승인 2010.05.08 00:57
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1. Switzerland- the Alps Girl Heidi

If you were a child of my generation, you would have seen the animation where the Alps girl Heidi comes along with a great view of the mountain in the TV series.  When I visited Switzerland to start my exchange program at the University of Bern, the first impression could not be too far away from that of Heidis.  I had rea some of books describing the country to prepare myself, but it was greener, whiter and fresher.  My days in Switzerland started with the outstanding view of the Alps by the Bern airport taking my breath away from the beginning.  I can not agree more how it is fulfilling and enriching my everyday life here.  The amazingly conserved nature in this cozy country is well known as the number one tourist attraction, but it is not only the nature that has been protected so well.  The official languages of Switzerland are German, French, Italian, and Romansh.  The Swiss government has been trying to give each of them equal status and preserve them respectively.  Hence, the languages of Switzerland do not have only their own dialects but also they are considered as the least changed version of each language.  From the point of view that perceives a language as a comprehensive outcome of a culture, the country Switzerland is where distinctively different cultures and lives are co-existing. 

2. Swiss Basic Freedom to Choose and Be Responsible

If the word Switzerland is translated, it will be Schweiz in German, Suisse in French and Svizzera in Italian.  However, its acronym is written CH, which is short for Confederati Helvetica.  Helvetica was the ol name for the territory that covers most of current Switzerland and Confederatio means confederation.  From the name, you can recognize that the country has agreed to be a nation.  Starting when 3 cantons agreed to be together and neutral in 1291; currently 26 cantons including 6 half-cantons are bound.  As the nation has begun with the agreement itself, it never ran off the track of the agreed promise.  Also the cantons had to be responsible for what they had chosen to agree upon.   Basically, Switzerland is a land of freedom to choose and responsibility.  The freedom and the responsibility can be explained more theoretically in the public participation in politics or high tax system, but what I learn from by heart is more likely to be in the classroom.  For instance, three of my classes did not need any pre-registration for the class before the semester.  My attendance was never checked.  I can choose to miss some of the classes but also not to take the exam.  If I do not take the exam, then it would not be recorded in my report.  However, if you plan to take the exam and want it to be in your report, then when you miss the class, you should be responsible for it.  There is nothing that you have to do to make it up officially, but you would probably need to invest more time to fill the gap.  It is all yourself who takes care of you and who is in charge of your action while you have a range of freedom.  This is a fundamental rule, and it seems to be in the very bottom of students attitude here in Switzerland.  I reckon that there
is a strong need for Korean universities recognizing this courageous action of Swiss university not taking the attendance of students.  This implies the necessity of given freedom.  If we can learn from this Swiss class, it will be the way to free the goats and Heidi in the field and still raise them well.

3. Me, a Senior Girl.

I am taking my 7th semester here in Bern.  So that makes me a senior student, but I took the risk to come here though there are things to complete before my graduation.  I had a quite tough 365 days last year.  I was the 8th English representative at Sookmyung Interpretation Volunteers (SMIV).  As I was more than proud of SMIV always, it was one of the happiest times when I was working for SMIV.  However, as SMIV has its own reputation not only on-campus, but also off-campus, there was a substantive amount of work.  In the third year of university, it was my time to decide what to do after graduation.  But I did not have enough time.  I had International Organization as my double major at that time, but I could not be fully absorbed into the subject, though I loved it.  I was always craving for my time to study.  I truly envied Heidis life being so free.  I longed for chances and time to know myself better.  When I was looking for the place to have distance from home and to figure out what I want, there was Switzerland.  It was little stressful to go on an exchange program on the last year of university.  Yet, I pictured my life when Im 80.  If this experience could fulfill my life and me, I was sure it would be worth it.  I chose Switzerland for Geneva.  Geneva is a city in the west, French part of Switzerland.  It has numerous headquarters of International Organizations and special representative offices of many nations in organizations such as the WTO, European headquarters of UN, WIPO and UNHCR.  It was inspiring enough for me to see the whole city full of those institutions.  What I have learned so far was all there!  Another thing is very good classes at school.  The classes make me think and allow me to.  Students here tend to have more interest in world politics and they are critical, hence it is always fun and helpful to have discussion with them.  There is always something I learned.  It was more education and diversity than what I was craving for.  In addition, as the location of Switzerland is in the centre of Europe, it is easier to travel.  You get a lot of reading materials from the class, but once you are finished, you can always go to Italy or France on weekends to have fun.  How awesome is that!  I am studying as much as I want and having abundant time to travel realizing who I am here in Switzerland.  I see more of the world full of new things every day.  It has been always fascinating being here and I know it will be even far greater later on.  I just cannot wait for tomorrow to come and surprise me.  Even at this moment, my heart does not stop fluttering.

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