I spent two months in a small architectural office in Berlin Mitte, which more or less prepped me for what was to come in Zurich in terms of work. But in terms of life, these two cities couldn’t be any more opposite. After my time in the chaotic, loud & cheap German capital, the Swiss seemed all the more well-behaved, hard-working & diligent. If public transport was delayed for two minutes, there’d be an official announcement apologizing for any inconvenience caused. People went back to the office at 8.30pm after finishing their Wednesday evening yoga class. Paying 9 franks for a small beer was only normal. The direct comparison of having spent the whole summer in Berlin and then moving to Zurich for the winter was a little European culture shock for me.
My internship was an incredibly valuable experience. I had found a firm that was actually passionate about teaching their interns and I learnt so much during my time there. But it was also quite serious work with long office hours. The nice thing about internships is that once you’re out the office, you don’t need to think about work anymore and your mind is immediately absorbed by other things. Such as Christmas markets, cozy Sundays at The Dolder, Philipp Poisel concerts, Ice skating and Swiss chocolates, sunny weekends by the lake with T., pathetic nights out because Zurich is simply too expensive for teenagers to enjoy themselves, architecture fairs, shopping, fondue, museums and a visit by my Mom and sister.
Don’t get me wrong. Zurich is an amazing place, especially if you’re in your thirties and you have a cool, well-paid job. But there are definitely more exciting cities for a 17 year old girl to spend her gap year in. I felt ridiculous spending so much money on food, so I’d always nibble on chocolates, nuts & cheese from our office kitchen to skip dinner. Looking back on it now, I obviously think that I was only being stupid but it made sense to me at the time. The city itself is wonderful; die verwinkelten Gassen und kleinen Häuschen are adorable, the lake is amazing during summer and the mountain views are fantastic all year round. I can definitely see myself moving back to Zurich… once I’ve made a fortune as an investment banker.