Originally half Austrian, half Hungarian, I spent a lot of my life trotting the globe, living in Austria, Hungary, Canada, China, Australia and now Switzerland, I see myself as a global citizen, but with one eye always on China.
My first up-front encounter with a completely unfamiliar worldview came when I attended a neo-conservative Christian American high school for two years, the strangeness of which was only marginally surpassed by my experiences in China. Incidentally, this was also the time that first opened my horizon to China, as more than 1/3 of the mostly international students came from mainland China or Taiwan.
After attending Greater Grace International School for two years, and more or less mastering the English language, it opened up a whole new world to me and I decided to study a year abroad.
Quite ambivalent about where to go, I let fate decide and ended up in a relatively small high school in Ontario, Canada. A s fate would have it, I once again made a lot of Chinese friends, all of whom seemed to come from the same little town in China. Coincidence? Not a chance. This was all part of an elaborate partnership between my high school and a high school in Xindu, Sichuan – Xindu No. 1 Middle School. Part of this partnership was a teaching exchange which let four graduating students from Rockway go to Xindu to teach English for one semester. Luckily the fewest people in the program’s 10 year history applied, which is the only reason they chose me, a non native English speaker, to go to Xindu No.1.
Needless to say, I had to most exciting few months of my life teaching English at Xindu No.1 Middle School and made friends I am sure I will know for the rest of my life. When the short few months of my planned stay were over, I knew that this could not have been it. There was too much left to discover, too much left to learn, too much left to read and too many people I still wanted to get to know. I felt like an alien on a different planet, immersing myself in the language, the social conventions, the history and more than anything, the food. However, I knew that teaching English was not my calling. As much as I loved those attentive kids sitting in their perfectly formed rows and repeating every word I say (oh, and how much I enjoyed those morning exercise periods. there is something soothing about meticulous uniformity and order), I knew that teaching English was just not my calling. So, i decided to get more serious about my Chinese language studies and attend Sichuan University and travel for a year.
And what I great time I had. I wish it could have gone on forever. But that fact was, I had to start university. There is just something so reassuring about having a degree in todays world, that even those who are not sure what to study end up going to university, given the chance, and hope to figure it out along the way.
So this is what I did. Despite my passion for China, I decided to pursue a more, presumably, practical degree and study bio-chemistry at the University of Melbourne, only to change to urban planning a half year later. At the same time I started a bicycle rental business, Central City Bikes. The opportunity seemed to great to pass up, so I wanted to discontinue my studies and throw all my energy into Central City Bikes. In retrospect, it is of course easy to see what went wrong. One big mistake was not to have a steady partner with whom I started this business, but ultimately it was the bureaucracy that crippled the enterprise. Having imported all my bikes from China, I met unexpected problems tryng to insure the business, additionally having to wait one year for the licenses proved to be too costly in the end. I had failed. I felt defeated. I felt it was time to move on.
This is how I ended up in Switzerland. A fresh start! And what a start it was! I met so many great people in such a short time like never before. And so I am all the more excited to continue my university studies here at the University of St. Gallen in Business Administration and International studies, with one eye always on China.