Testimony – November 2007

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Somehow Everything Will Work Out
by Sabine Radde

sabine_radde I was born in 1986 in Switzerland where I grew up with my sister and my parents. We actually still have a house in a nice area in the countryside. I was 6-years-old when I started primary school. My parents and especially my father made sure that I was aware of the importance of a good education from a very young age. My father was born during World War II in Germany and when his family lost everything, he has experienced famine and lack of almost everything else. He has earned all he has today, through his intelligence, a good education and the will to get educated. I think this might be the reason why – or maybe one of the reasons – he has always put education in the first place.

It was however not even necessary to remind me how important school was. I was very interested in a lot of things and eager to learn. I always had good results and was very demanding with myself. I was only satisfied when I had 6 out of 6 and could even cry when I was only getting 5 out of 6.I liked to learn reading, writing and maths, and all the things someone needs in his or her everyday life. My future was already set when I was little and It was my goal. I didn’t know by that time, if I would really make it till university.

Switzerland has a complex school system with many different possibilities but I wanted to choose the very top education and that’s what I did. Additionally, I was sportive, learned to play violin and flute and I took many other courses in many different fields. Whatever I started to learn, I learned quickly and easily.

Yet – although it might look so to some people – I wouldn’t say that my life was easier than the one of other children of my age. My family was breaking apart, slowly but surely. My parents argued more and more often and they have finally divorced. It was not easy for me to go through. I was always quiet and shy and – despite my success – not very self-confident. I was thinking constantly, about almost everything. I was questioning myself a lot.

Switzerland is commonly known as a country with a high living standard, but many people don’t know that the pressure to perform in Switzerland is very high too. Life in Switzerland can be very demanding and the suicide rate is one of the highest of all countries in the world. Without a good education, getting a good job is extremely difficult and to keep one’s job one has to work hard and this was putting me under a lot of pressure too.

Additionally, my interest in learning faded away little by little. We were treating subjects at school more and more in detail and I was sure that I would never need a lot of it again in my whole life. Mostly, I learned tonnes of sheets, just to forget all of them again immediately after I had passed the exam. This is the way I have lost a great deal of my interest in learning and especially my motivation. When I finished high-school last year, my motivation was ‘equal to zero’, so I was happy to be able to take a break before going to university and go abroad for one year as it was something that I have always wanted to do sometime in my life.

I knew before I left for Vancouver in September 2006 that a great time was waiting for me. and I wasn’t disappointed. Spending a longer time abroad is not only highly valuable for your professional life and the chance to find a good position, but it also opens your mind and helps you discover a lot of things you weren’t aware of before.

Learning English and living in another country gave me my motivation back. Everything that I have learned during the year abroad was something I’ll be able to use and take advantage of for the rest of my life. In Vancouver, every day I have learned or discovered something new, every day was special and full of surprises.

This year has broadened my horizon in many different aspects. I met a lot of people I would have never met if I hadn’t gone to Vancouver as they came from totally different countries or background, had gone through totally different educations or experiences in life or were simply from a totally different age. All we had in common was an interest in other countries, other cultures and other languages than our own. But all these differences didn’t matter in Vancouver. There we were all foreigners; there we all spoke a language which wasn’t our own. We were all equal. Therefore, the tolerance against all kinds of different characters was extremely high. I have appreciated all of it very much and it has made me more self-confident. Today, I am still thinking a lot but I am less ‘self-questioning’. I am more relaxed and take my life easier. I have learned that somehow and despite moments in life where everything seems senseless, everything will work out.

Now, I have been back in Switzerland for about three months. However, I don’t want to stay here forever. In a few days I am starting my studies at the Technical University of Zurich. I have started to doubt if this is really what I want, since I have discovered that there are so many more choices and things to do on earth and it makes me a bit afraid that I might lose my motivation too quickly again. But once finished, these studies will open for me many possibilities. I’ll be able to go in any professional direction I want to. What exactly this will be, I don’t know yet. But I’ll see where life leads me next.

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