Last week I passed the 90 day mark–I’ve been here for over three months, and it feels like I arrived just yesterday. My sense of time has come a bit off the rails, it seems, because even January feels as though it was just yesterday as well.
But now it’s September; summer is winding down to a close, and the sweltering heat is finally sinking to a more manageable level. My initial stay is up, I could’ve flown back to the U.S. at the end of last week if I wanted to, but honestly, life seems so much better here.
Instead, I’ve accepted a contract to continue the work I’m doing, still in training, but a step up from interning. I’m officially registered and working in Switzerland, with all that includes–taxes, mandatory health insurance, and 4 weeks of vacation (guess which one I’m most excited about). It’s wonderful being able to continue my work and education here, amongst majestic mountains and the charm of ancient European cities, and I look forward to continuing to share my photos with you!
There are a few reasons why I’ve decided to stay, chief among them being that I can continue living in Europe. Zurich isn’t necessarily the best city–there are a few others around Europe which, in my opinion, have greater charm, and where the cost of living is slightly more reasonable. But the city also has its advantages: it’s centrally located, it’s safe and clean, and it holds the staples of a quintessential European city: a quaint city center and reliable public transit. With both the main train station and an international airport less than 30 minutes from my apartment, it’s extremely possible to go anywhere in Europe in just over an hour flight (or a few short hours on the train).
In just the past month I’ve traveled to nearly every corner of Switzerland: Lucerne, Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, Lugano, Chur, Zermatt, Geneva, and Konstanz (Germany)–all by train. I’ve hiked up mountains in the Jungfrau region (the “Top of Europe”), and the Matterhorn (think Toblerone). It’s been a busy summer, to say the least, but it’s not over yet!
Switzerland is beautiful, and there is nothing better than spending a weekend hiking in various regions of the Swiss Alps, but there are still a few other places I want to visit in Switzerland (Basel, St. Gallen, Montreux) and elsewhere (France, Italy and southern Germany to start).
With my travels, mountain views, and a crystal-clear lake a few
feet meters away from my doorstep, it’s easy to see this as little more than a glorified vacation (especially from the outside). However, as much as I (or anyone) would love to travel around without a care in the world, the reality is: I’m here to work.
But that’s not a bad thing. Sure, I’m working 42 hours a week but I’m not filling in spreadsheets or flipping burgers (though if that’s your thing you do you). I’m being creative, every day working on new challenges and solving problems for clients. The nature of the work means that it’s constantly shifting, from logos to websites, and from pharma to education to Saudi Arabian gyms. What’s keeping me here isn’t just the ability to travel and to explore more of Europe, but just as much it’s being able to advance my creative chops and to gain experience working in an agency, designing (and even developing). I’m working in the field(s) that I majored in, and that’s not something just anyone can say.
While university gave me a great capstone in my education (one for which I’m eternally grateful), I’ve come to realize that all that learning is merely a solid base upon which to build. There is so much more for me to learn, in design and in life. I want to travel the globe; I want to design and photograph for the biggest brands and the smallest voices; I want to live in Berlin and New York and LA and I want a cabin in Colorado. But most of all, I want to leave an impact. I want to leave this planet knowing that it’s going to support our future generations; I want to read about climate change in history books as something that’s come and gone–fully reversed and a bitter point in human history; I want to see renewable energy permeate the globe–no more smokestacks belching soot; I want to watch as the first humans set up a colony on Mars, making us, for the first time, a multi-planetary species; I want to know that famine and disease is fast on its way to being eradicated, along with war; and if I play even a small part in making these wishes a reality, I will have considered my life a success. I know it’s a tall order, but we’ve still got 80 years. Just think what’s been accomplished since the 1930s–even with two world wars. I’m rooting for the human race. and I hope you are too.
Not enough people look at life with such a grand view, to have goals set for not only the next year or two but for the next few decades as well. It leads us into peril because we end up planning far too much for the short-term. Why adopt stricter environmental regulations when it immediately impacts the bottom line; why empower people when it’s so much easier to hold onto your wealth; why do anything that doesn’t have an immediate positive impact on you?
Questions like these often go unanswered because they’re too far-reaching–too immense to even begin to answer. But consider this: do you want to look back on your life and realize that you never accomplished your goals? Maybe it was a job you wanted as a kid, or a cause you wholeheartedly supported in college but has since gone by the wayside. Maybe it was a career change you were considering but eventually decided against because it was too risky or too out there to take seriously.
All of us, I’m sure, have thought about our goals, but whether we act on them or not is entirely up to us. Set your goals, plan for the future, and actively pursue your dream. Set aside time each month to reevaluate your goals and create steps of how you want to get there. If you set the goal of achieving world peace by the end of your days, you’ll be far too overwhelmed to achieve anything, but by setting small steps, like volunteering at a shelter or getting a degree in political science, you will start to feel the forward momentum.
That’s why I am where I am, why I’ve decided to stay, and why I continue to put in my best every day. I know what I want to achieve, and I know what impact I want to have had when I leave this earth. So take a moment to think about the future. Let’s not leave this planet a smoldering pile of rock.
Well, crap. You know I never meant to get so philosophical on you. I only wanted to tell you what I’ve been up to. I know most of you are in the States so hopefully this finds you well–it seems like disaster after disaster over there. I can think of a few people over there who need to rethink their goals…I’m sure you can too. So, long story short…
tl;dr I’m still in Switzerland for the foreseeable future, I’ve traveled a lot, and you should probably set goals so the world doesn’t burn.
Till next time.
Peace and love,