Spending the last three months volunteering at Our Chalet has been an amazing and challenging experience. Switzerland is so different to Australia, and this experience has been very different to anything I have ever done before. As a result, I’ve learnt a lot, and I’ve put together a list of some of the biggest things I’ve learnt during my season!
Kitchen and Cleaning Skills
- How to fold a fitted sheet – one of those life skills I’m sure will be useful in the future!
- How to cook, and how to cater for large groups and to many dietary requirements.
- How to use a meat slicer and how to cut onions.
- What ‘clean’ really means!
- What hiking actually is – Australia is so flat compared to Switzerland that I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into!
- Hiking socks are actually different to normal socks. As awesome as my Harry Potter socks are, they don’t work too well with hiking boots.
- How huge and beautiful mountains are. Every step you take here, the view changes.
- How big the world can be – it took me about 30 hours of travelling to get from Melbourne to Our Chalet! But I also learned how small the world is. One of my favourite memories from my season was spending two days hiking through Liechtenstein. I did however find it quite strange that all it took was a couple of buses and trains and I was in a different country!
- Switzerland is very green! Australia is a very dry country and has been in drought for most of my life. Until I came to Our Chalet I honestly didn’t know how many different shades of green there were, and how bright and colourful the world can be.
- I should have packed a raincoat. The weather changes very quickly in the mountains, and it has rained most days while I’ve been at Our Chalet. It doesn’t rain much in Australia, and when it rains it doesn’t rain for very long so I didn’t bring a good raincoat with me. This was a mistake! Luckily my friends had a few spare coats I could borrow.
- To wear sunscreen – the sun is a lot stronger in the mountains than it is at sea level. I very rarely get sunburnt in Australia, but have regularly been burnt in Switzerland!
- What ‘tired’ is, and how to work through being tired all the time.
- How to get along with people from different backgrounds, with different beliefs, opinions and ways of doing things. As a World Centre, Our Chalet is full of so many different people and cultures. Being here has taught me how to live and work with such a wide variety of people.
- To take a little bit of Australia with me.
- To try new things – I have tried so many new activities this season, the most memorable of these being paddle boarding and trotti biking.
- That it’s ok to be who you are!
I have met people from all over the world and made so many close friends during my time at Our Chalet. People are amazing.
Madi (Australia)- Summer Volunteer 2018