“Welcome to Les Roches!”
The first week was full of warm greetings from teachers and older students alike. Les Roches is like no other place I’ve come across; situated in the canton of Valais, just beneath the ski resort of Crans-Montana, is a little town called Bluche which in itself is a microcosm of the world. With over 90 nationalities on campus, I reckon the United Nations, headquartered in Geneva, would be proud of the representation.
You may wonder how do all of us communicate? In the language which business of the world is conducted in; English. We English have always had it easy from the start. When we travel to another foreign city, you are pretty much guaranteed that you can find someone, be it in the supermarket or shops that understands and speaks enough English for you to get by comfortably. Some use it as an excuse not to learn foreign languages, and I think that attitude is wrong and has to be reversed.
I see so many people around me making a huge effort trying to interact with others and I almost feel ashamed that I have it so easy. It is a hard transition to make for many coming here, uprooting themselves from their home countries and come to this little international village.
Most people here can already speak 2 to 3 languages, plus we get another option of taking on another foreign language – something crucial to the hotel industry. I have decided to take French, from scratch, even though I have done it for a couple of years like the majority of English people. I’m enthusiastic about learning a ‘new’ language because to get to really know a country and its people you need to first (try) and speak its language.
Switzerland in itself is bit of a melting pot of cultures, with four official languages to its name; German, French, Italian and Romansh. Luckily enough I was here to experience Swiss National Day on the 1st August. I went up to Crans-Montana to celebrate it in style since there was a huge array of different stands with numerous Swiss foods on offer like ‘raclette’ (hot cheese served with gherkins and pickled onions) and bündner nusstorte (a caramelised nut-filled pastry). Due to all the different influences surrounding the landlocked country of Switzerland, its cuisine varies depending on which region you visit.
I am excited to learn more about Switzerland and will definitely be taking the opportunity of a lifetime to travel around!