An Experience of a Lifetime – Hazel (Zimbabwe)



When I was asked to write a small blog about my experience so far I was stumped. How could I possibly fit all my unbelievable experiences into 500 words? After some thought it came down to this: it’s been a ROLLERCOASTER! The type of ride which you wish would never end even if you get a bit woozy at times. With the twists, the turns and the lows also comes the peaks which make it all worthwhile. With only a few months to go, time is ticking by and I am faced with mixed feeling of wanting to go home and wanting to stay here forever.



How it began

I was just a simple Zimbabwean girl who lived in the city and who didn’t know much about Europe except from what I had seen in the movies and on TV. I never thought I would experience living in a snowy European country or even imagined I would survive under -5°c in my life. However, I made a special application to volunteer at Our Chalet World Center as the Guest Services Intern and was accepted and that’s how my journey to Switzerland began.

This was going to be my new life for 3 months starting on 5th December 2017. When I arrived at Geneva Airport I could not believe that I had finally made it to Europe. I travelled by train for the first time in my life from Geneva to Our Chalet and on my journey I was thinking of my new life ahead.


An unbelievable experience

Our Chalet has given me an unbelievable experience that has been life changing in all the right ways.  I was welcomed by snow and to be honest my mind was blown as it is exactly how I imagined it – magical! I got to build my first snowman, wear my first snowshoes and I got to skate on ice which is something I would never get to do in Africa. My winter experience as an Intern has been amazing with new friends and welcoming staff at Our Chalet which in a few months has become more like a family to me.


The true Our Chalet experience

My experience at Our Chalet has helped me grow as I become more independent, confident and push myself outside of my comfort zone. Leaving my family and friends for Christmas was the hardest part, while the best part has been making new friends and experiencing Christmas in the Swiss Alps in the cosy comfort of the soft wooden Chalet buildings. I also love meeting other volunteers from other countries and instantly bonding with them over our shared experiences.

Hazel C. Zaranyika, Guest Services Intern 2017/2018

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