A South African in Switzerland

By Colleen, exchange student from South Africa to Switzerland

Grüezi! I’m Colleen Madlala, I’m 19 years old and I come from a small town called Middelburg in Mpumalanga, South Africa. I did my exchange year in 2016/17 in a small village, Rothenfluh in Switzerland.

I must honestly say, I had the most adventurous, interesting, carefree and breathtaking year of my life, unfortunately good things come to an end.

Going on exchange was the best, biggest and hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, I do not regret even just a little bit of it. Some people say, ‘’Going on exchange is losing year’’ but I can verify that I won one year, that year. I learned 2 new languages (German and Swiss German), I got even more interested in other languages, I made friends from all over the world and  learned how to snowboard.

I travelled around Switzerland and the countries that border Switzerland. There’s so much that I did and learned during my exchange, I’d have to write a book about my incredible experience.

One of the most important things I realized during my exchange was my personal growth and development. I conquered fears I didn’t even know I had, for instance getting on that plane to Switzerland and leaving my family behind. Conquering this fear paid off because YFU managed to get me an amazing host family that has played a tremendous role in my exchange year, they watched me grow from the first day until the last day of my exchange year.

Therefore I will forever be grateful to my mom, my family back home, my host family, exchange students, my friends and YFU for making my exchange year remarkable for me. I did not only leave Switzerland with a suitcase full of chocolate but with a heart full of the love of chocolate and Switzerland itself.

It’s been 2 years since I came back home and I am a completely different person because of this eye opening experience. I absolutely love a challenge and am willing to try new adventures. Being on exchange has challenges on its own, but so does life, right?

‘’Life begins at the end of your comfort zone’’