The GoGlobal Blog

Learning to Appreciate Life in Switzerland

Learning to Appreciate Life in Switzerland

The first few months of studying abroad were some of the most fast-paced and hectic of my entire life. I was dealing with all the struggles that come with adjusting to a completely new living situation, while also travelling nearly every single weekend. Time never really slowed down and it seemed like as soon as I finished one task I had to move on to the next one.

Although I had some terrific experiences and made memories that will last forever within those times, it made me forget to stop and appreciate the simple attractions of living in Switzerland. I was constantly thinking about what I had to do or where I had to visit next, instead of recognizing the value of the present moment. However, the last two weeks have been a complete shift from the rest of the semester, as everything has gradually settled and I’ve been able to take in the beauty of life here.

The increased amount of down time lately has made me realize that Switzerland and Winterthur, the town I live in, has a lot more to offer than I may have originally thought. To start, the weather here has been about 80 degrees every day and I haven’t seen a single cloud the entire time. In the past, my friends and I would always try to go to places that had beaches and warm weather to escape the coldness of Switzerland. Now when I check online, Winterthur often has even better weather than the places I went too or considered visiting.

The town is perfect for spending time in the incredible weather, as it is full of parks, forest trails, and nature areas. Whenever I’m feeling stressed out or if I just want to get some sun, I usually go to one of the parks and sit back while listening to a podcast or some music. No matter which park I go too it is always has an uplifting energy to it, as kids are playing, picnics are happening, and many people are just laying out, like myself. If I do decide to be a little more active during the day and still take advantage of the weather, I can always go on a long walk or hike. Along the various pathways I’m always treated to stunning scenes of the woods or of the vast Swiss countryside and I feel comfort and serenity from all the nature around me.

                 The calm countryside

Clearly, I’ve been loving the recent blue and sunny skies, but my growing fondness for Winterthur doesn’t just end there. The lively atmosphere of the main streets never fails to put me in a good mood, especially as the sound of music from street performers surrounds me.  If I’m lucky, there will even be an outdoor food market in the center of town, where I’ll truly engage with the Swiss culture by buying some locally made cheese. To top it all off, the somewhat small town of 100,000 people has more and arguably better cafés than all of Chicago.Each one is fantastic for sipping on a cappuccino while getting some work done, especially with final exams coming up.  My favorite is still Locanda Trivisano, which I wrote about in one of my first blogs, and I know that I’ll miss their coffee the most when I’m back in America.

Marktgasse, the main street of Winterthur

Even though I haven’t been traveling as much to other countries recently, I’ve still been going on day trips to other cities within Switzerland. All Swiss towns are somewhat similar to each other, but each one has its own unique features that make the short train rides well worth it. Last week I went on two of these quick trips with a friend, one to Basel and another to St. Gallen. Basel, the third-biggest city in Switzerland, is a gorgeous town settled on the Rhein river. Winterthur doesn’t have any body of water, so it was a nice change of pace to be able to sit by the river and take in the wonderful view. The Rhein also had one of the more intriguing attractions I’ve ever seen in a city, a small wooden ferry boat that crosses the river and is pulled by a string. The experience of the ferry trip wasn’t anything life-changing like some other of my touristic adventures have been so far, but it was extremely charming and something you won’t see in any other city in the world.


The “Reinfahre”, not exactly a speedboat
                Basel along the river








While I could’ve sat along the Rhein river the whole day and never got tired of it, we made sure to see the historic landmarks that the town is also known for. One of them was an impressive and also special cathedral, called the Basel Minster. From the outside, it was remarkable just like most of the cathedrals that I have seen in Europe, however the inside had something I wasn’t expecting at all. Instead of there only being paintings or statues within the cathedral, there were also tombs and graves of well-known Christian figures of the past.  It was especially fascinating to see a grave memorial for Erasmus there, as he was someone I thoroughly studied in my Theology class last semester.

The Basel Minster


The memorial for Erasmus











In addition to the cathedral, the city’s old Rathaus, German for town hall, was another one of my favorites. The building stood out from all of the others, as it had distinctive exterior decorations and a strong red color. The courtyard in the town hall was also extraordinary due to the symbolic figures and stories painted on the walls.

The Basel Rathaus
The walls of the Rathaus Courtyard










The other trip of the week was to St. Gallen, a smaller town than Basel and one with less touristic appeal. However, the one main attraction that it did have was one of my personal favorites while being abroad. Surprisingly, it wasn’t a beach, a restaurant, or even a museum, instead I was infatuated with the Abbey Library of Saint Gall. This wasn’t just any old library, it is one of the most important monastic libraries in the world and it dates all the way back to the 8th century. The Benedictine Abbey contains one of the most extensive collections of vital writings, with over 150,000 pieces of work stretching over the last 12 centuries. If that wasn’t already enthralling enough, the interior design of the library was mind-blowing. There were exquisite wooden balconies and bookshelves and the ceilings had intricate and dazzling paintings. For the hour that I was in there I felt like I had travelled back in time and I was a monk on a quest for sacred knowledge.

A picture of the also wonderful Abbey Cathedral, since pictures weren’t allowed in the library (look it up online!)

I understand now that Basel and St. Gallen may not have the notoriety of the past cities I’ve been too like Barcelona, but that doesn’t mean that the trips were any less valuable. Discovering a new place is all about what you do to engage with that city, and not about the ratings on Trip Advisor.


But for now I’m back in Winterthur, blogging in the corner of a small café as I finish the last sips of another tasty coffee. Simple moments like these don’t seem that spectacular, but I also know that sometime in the future I’ll wish that I could be back here again. So, it’s up to me to appreciate every moment of my life here in Switzerland.




Comments are closed.