Laura Gibilras was born in Italy, but she's always had a particularly close connection to Switzerland, her mother’s home. For the last two years, the 19-year-old has lived in the canton of Zurich and she envisages making her life in Switzerland -- even though the people in Italy are, she says, “much more open and communicative.”
swissinfo.ch: You were born in Italy as a Swiss abroad. Does someone in your family come from Switzerland?
Laura Gibilras: I was a Swiss abroad because my mother was born and grew up in Switzerland. She met my father on a trip to Italy and they fell in love. I know – very romantic!
swissinfo.ch: What relationship do you have with Switzerland?
L.G.: I’ve always had a special relationship with Switzerland. When I was still living in Italy, I used to spend two holidays a year at my grandparents’ home in Switzerland.
From the age of 12, I visited the youth camps for Swiss living abroad (SJAS and ASO). These youth camps strengthened my relationship with Switzerland and I started to really look forward to the summer and the winter so that I could go back again!
swissinfo.ch: When did you first become aware of your Swiss side?
L.G.: I never consciously became aware of having particularly “Swiss” aspect to my personality. I lived with it without noticing it.
swissinfo.ch: At the moment, you are living in the canton of Zurich. How and where do you envisage your professional future?
L.G.: Two years ago, I moved to Switzerland and completed my high-school studies here. At the moment I am taking a year out to escape the school environment and to work and earn some money, so that I can afford the registration fee for the Technical University in Rapperswil, where I would like to study landscape architecture.
swissinfo.ch: Do you already know what you would like to do professionally?
L.G.: I don’t yet know what profession I want to pursue. Right now, I would like to do something involving contact with nature, particularly plants. In the future, I would like to do something in the field of social work.
swissinfo.ch: Where exactly do you live now, and can you describe life and the food there?
L.G.: I’ve been living in Erlenbach in the canton of Zurich for two years with my mum and my brother. My mother lived in Italy for 20 years, so our food is very Italian-influenced, though there are Swiss influences too.
swissinfo.ch: What is more attractive about Italy than Switzerland?
L.G.: I’ve always admired Switzerland’s atmosphere and its wonderful scenery. But in these two years, I have also noticed that the people in Italy are much more open and communicative than they are in Switzerland.
swissinfo.ch: What did you think about Switzerland from a distance, when you were still living in Italy?
L.G.: From a distance, I learned to admire Switzerland much more – its perfectionism, and the fact that it offered young people a future with opportunities for study and jobs. That’s not the case in Italy, where young people are practically forced to emigrate when they have finished their studies.
But I would like to add that I owe my admiration for Switzerland to the youth camps I took part in, and to my grandparents, who taught me a great deal about the country.
swissinfo.ch: How is the political situation in Italy? Are you interested in the politics of your former home country?
L.G.: The political situation in Italy isn’t the best. I don’t think there is a future for young people in Italy, and I always told myself that I would go to Switzerland when I finished school. I am much more interested in politics here in Switzerland, even if I don’t understand anything. But I always try to get informed before I vote.
swissinfo.ch: Do you vote in Swiss elections and referendums by letter or by E-voting?
L.G.: I vote in Switzerland and Italy by letter.
Are you a Swiss expatriate? Mark your photos on Instagram #WeAreSwissAbroad.
Translated from the German by Catherine Hickley, swissinfo.ch (this interview was conducted in writing)