You can’t reduce your fear, but you can increase your courage

This is what I like to tell myself and others when in need of a leap of faith. Which is exactly what I needed when I decided to leave Rotterdam for an exchange semester in Zurich. During a global pandemic.

By leaving the country I grew up in, I also left my comfort zone. I was lucky enough to pursue my exchange despite all the restrictions. In fact, I frankly think that I got the full experience when I came here in summer; it was super easy to meet other students. Also, people kept inviting me to various events and that’s how I even ended up performing on an open stage!

Being an exchange student includes conversations with people from different backgrounds on a daily basis. I love hearing different perspectives on the world because there’s no such thing like ‚wrong opinions‘. I don’t have to agree in order to learn from them. That’s why I started a community-building workshop series back in the Netherlands, that brings students together in order to discuss taboo topics. I’m super happy to continue these here in Zurich.

I fell in love with living in Switzerland. I’m completely settled in; I found a nice room, made new friends, started learning German and found a job. I even extended my stay for another semester.

But don’t get me wrong, it’s not always as uncomplicated and easy as it seems. For example, when I had just arrived, I got scammed about a room, so I spontaneously had to move into a hotel. I remember a moment when I was sitting in my hotel room, super stressed and tired and for a desperate second, I considered taking a bus to just go home. But I didn’t. I tried to see the bigger picture and faced the challenge. Never let stress discourage you!

- Niek, Wirtschaft UZH


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