Because we don’t want the non-german speaking exchange students to miss out on reading prisma, we’re excited to introduce our new exchangee column.

I decided to attend St. Gallen about two years ago, so I spent the year before my exchange learning German at my home university. Not that it would have mattered, but I didn’t know that Switzerland was split into four languages – none of which is Hochdeutsch. I found this out when I arrived in Zürich and the controller on the train asked me for my ticket about 15 times before realizing I didn’t have a clue what she was saying. She pointed at my ticket. I chuckled, handed it to her. It was going to be a long semester.

A few days after I arrived in St. Gallen, I borrowed my [female] friend’s bike and set out to find the university. Two hours later, I was standing on top of a mountain (a hill, by Swiss standards) taking directions from a farmer pointing across the valley towards the university. Cow bells were clanking, horses were trotting by, and I was outnumbered by people wearing denim bibs. After nodding as he spoke for a few minutes, I accepted defeat and pedaled off into the sunset on my under-sized purple mountain bike.

Surprisingly open-minded people

A few days later, I was formally introduced to the university at a welcome session for all the exchange students. We learned about the cultural differences across the country, events that would be happening in St. Gallen, and that the Swiss students would probably not talk to us unless we approached them first. This wasn’t true, and it was especially not true for my roommate, Andreas. On my first night at the apartment, Andreas greeted me and my other roommate (Oscar, from Colombia) with a bottle of wine, explaining that we had to kick things off properly later that night. Over the next three months, we would hike Mt. Säntis, sleep in a park before a day of hitchhiking to Munich, and marvel at the wonders of nature by a lake near Lucerne. Andreas is an old spirit, the kind of person you don’t meet very often.

In fact, most of the people I met in Switzerland were quite different than the people I’m used to in the U.S. They were genuinely interested in hearing about where I came from and why I chose to study at St. Gallen. They didn’t play on their cell phones while I was talking to them, and they remembered my name after meeting me only once. Switzerland is a great producer of cheese and watches, but it’s even better at making some of the best people I’ve ever met.

About Wesley Daye:

Home University: The University of Texas, Austin
Degree seeking: Bachelor in Marketing
Why HSG: I studied at HSG because I wanted to learn how to bank like the Swiss! I was also really fascinated by the history and the culture in Switzerland.
What I want to work as: I want to work as a marketing consultant.