Swiss National Day August 1st: Happy Birthday, Switzerland!

Institutional Communication Service

30 July 2021

There is no doubt that international students love our country, the figures confirm this. For our National Holiday on 1 August, we interviewed a number of USI students currently involved in the USI Summer Campus to find out about Swiss experience and their time at USI. We end with the wishes of a Swiss student from the Canton of Geneva.

Qian Qijia comes from China and is a student at the Master in International Tourism. We asked her how she likes it at USI.

After two years of study, I finally decided to write my thesis on international relations and tourism. At the same time, I also want to find an internship to practice what I have learnt and mastered. The internship will be a perfect work opportunity to gain the experience needed for my future career and, at the same time, practice and develop skills in management and communication. My experience at USI could be divided into two phases. One has to do with what I learnt during lectures. I loved the atmosphere in the classroom and actively participated in discussions, learning from the wonderful and unique ideas and insights of my fellow students. The second has to do with the outdoor activities that helped me better understand the concepts taught by my professors and which left me with lasting memories of visiting beautiful places for the first time. I was also able to experience a new way of learning through the online lessons on virtual tourism. It was not easy to attend remote lectures on virtual tourism due to its untouchable and unreal feeling. However, I still enjoyed our virtual "study tours", including the teamwork and the guest speakers. My experience at USI is definitely positive, and I think my future career will benefit from what I have learnt and mastered.

Which Swiss qualities are particularly appreciated in the Chinese context, and which ones can be problematic?

Firstly, I think it is the atmosphere and environment that are greatly quiet and peaceful, making people light of heart and landscapes keep the original and natural more or less. Swiss tourism could be attractive to the people of China, as we are curious and love to travel and enjoy unique experiences in nature and the mountains. We love to try local dishes and get in touch with the culture of the places we visit. Indeed, among the objects that Chinese tourists would want to buy are the popular Swiss army knives, chocolate and watches. A Chinese tourist, on the other hand, would not be very interested in sustainable tourism. The choice is always mass tourism, and it is difficult for them to understand and appreciate sustainable tourism. Furthermore, the multilingual context could create some communication barriers with the locals. I would conclude by saying that Switzerland will undoubtedly become a popular destination for China in the future because it is difficult to resist the appeal of its landscapes and culture.

Soha Ghezili, from Iran, student at the Master in International Tourism: in October, you took part in a workshop offered by USI to learn more about Swiss culture and give you an insight into how things work in our country. What struck you the most?

What surprised me most, in a positive sense, was that the Swiss are very polite and tend to say thank you much more often than other cultures. This aspect of Swiss culture, which was at the heart of the discussion during the workshop, allowed me to think of how, for some people and some cultures, this frequent use of the word "thank you" might make it seem less valuable and sincere.

You also received helpful advice on things to do and avoid in Switzerland: did anything surprise you?

There are indeed several cultural differences that may surprise at first. Take greetings, for example: in Iran, it is customary for men to shake hands with each other and for women to shake hands and give three kisses on the cheek only to other women. While in Switzerland, it is customary to greet everyone in general. In terms of 'things to do', I was amazed that, here in Switzerland, shops and businesses are only open until 7 pm during the week and closed on Sundays. You have to be prepared and plan your routine accordingly.

Antonio Bello from Geneva, Master in Media Management student: from the point of view of a Swiss person, what are the benefits of being in Ticino?

This experience in Canton Ticino has taught me a lot. First of all, on a human level, I had the chance to meet wonderful people. On a personal level, USI offered many opportunities, such as my internship. It is also important to mention the beauty of this canton, with its breathtaking landscapes of lakes, mountains and almost Mediterranean ambience, which make it unquestionably Swiss but at the same time unique. All this makes it the best place to grow and prepare for the future.

Let us conclude with a special wish for your country ...

I wish Switzerland and all Swiss people well, as well as those who live and study here. I hope that the situation will return to normal as soon as possible so that we all can enjoy life in Ticino to the fullest.