Studying in a global city guarantees contacts all over the world. Janina Kauz, a 23-year-old Swiss expat, could hardly have chosen a better location for her studies in intercultural communication than London.
swissinfo.ch: Why did you leave Switzerland?
Janina Kauz: I moved to London to study because the course I am doing, Intercultural Communications in the Creative Industries, doesn’t exist in Switzerland. The course began in September 2017 and that’s when I arrived in London.
The views expressed in this article, including those concerning the host country and its politics, are exclusively those of the person portrayed and do not necessarily represent the positions of swissinfo.ch.
The first months were interesting and exciting, but also very tiring. Although London is not so far away and doesn’t feel very foreign to us, you still gain a lot of new impressions and have to get used to new situations.
After a while, things settled down. It’s certainly not a one-way trip. I will probably return to Switzerland after my studies.
swissinfo.ch: What job do you want to do and where after your studies?
J.K.: At the moment I’m toying with the idea of doing a doctorate after my Masters. In that case I would stay a few years longer in London before I go back to Switzerland.
My plans for later are not really settled. I would like to work in advertising or television, but that could all change.
swissinfo.ch: Where are you living at the moment? And how do you find life and the food in London?
J.K.: I live in the district of Lambeth near the Tube station at Vauxhall. It’s in the centre of London and attractions like Big Ben and the London Eye are reachable within minutes on foot. Everything is on my doorstep so I can make the most of the many cultural amenities the city has to offer.
London cuisine is very international. There’s no dish you can’t find here. It has a lot of Indian restaurants, but everything else as well. The international cuisine is mostly very good. In comparison, traditional British food is almost boring. When I go to restaurants, I mostly eat foreign food.
swissinfo.ch: What is more attractive about Britain than Switzerland? And what is the biggest difference from Switzerland?
J.K.: Britain is much more multicultural than Switzerland. That makes the country very interesting and a good place for my studies. I’m studying with people from all over the world, which I enjoy very much.
Other than that, the biggest difference I notice is how polite people are. They always say “please” and “thank you” and say sorry for everything, even if it’s not their fault. That makes dealing with people much more pleasant. I don’t mean that everyone in Switzerland is rude, but here the politeness is much more noticeable and people place more importance on it.
swissinfo.ch: What is your view of Switzerland from a distance?
J.K.: Although I like London very much, I miss Switzerland, particularly Zurich. I feel at home there and it’s difficult to feel that way in London.
I think in Switzerland we enjoy a very high standard of living and lots of privileges. Sometimes you only become aware of that when you leave Switzerland for a while and move to another country. The infrastructure, education, health service and much more besides are of a very high quality in Switzerland. I also appreciate the fact that our political system is relatively transparent and we can make our voices heard. Many of those who voted against Brexit would like to have that here.
swissinfo.ch: How is the political situation in Britain, particularly after this decision to leave the EU?
J.K.: I follow political events with interest when I have time. A lot is happening here because of Brexit. I’m especially watching how the situation for EU citizens is developing, because my residence permit is connected to that. I’m very happy to be able to study in Britain with no complications and no visa and I hope it stays that way.
swissinfo.ch: Do you take part in Swiss elections and referendums? By letter or by e-voting?
J.K.: I return to Switzerland regularly to visit, for example during the university holidays. My visits are regular enough that I can always vote by post in Switzerland. It’s very important to me to vote despite my absence.
swissinfo.ch: What do you miss most about Switzerland?
J.K.: I miss feeling at home and belonging. Moving to a foreign country involves a certain sense of being uprooted. In Switzerland I feel at home and can act with a kind of natural ease that is missing abroad.
swissinfo.ch (this interview was conducted in writing)