“Fribourg is a beautiful city with wonderful people. Swiss, like Singaporeans, are multi-lingual, usually fluent in some combination of French, German, English, Italian and/or Romansch.”
I am Tan Jia Hui, 2nd year student doing a SUTD-SMU Dual Degree Program (Bachelor of Business Management and Engineering).
Having heard about its diverse culture, Switzerland was my first choice when choosing the country for this immersion program. This being my first time to Europe, Switzerland was hence the ideal location to experience and better understand the lifestyle and culture in Europe.
When we first arrived in Switzerland, what struck me was how quiet the city was. Despite having a much larger land area than Singapore, there are only about 8 million people living here – much less densely populated than Singapore. Shops usually closes by 7pm every day and do not open on Sundays to facilitate work-life balance.
One of the most fascinating thing about the country is their strict recycling laws. Households are highly encouraged to segment and recycle their rubbish, including glass, paper and the different types of metals and plastics. Plastic bags were not provided at supermarkets and a fee had to be paid for each general waste bag. It was admirable how every individual played an active part in reducing their carbon footprint. In Singapore, most households have a rubbish chute within their houses, reducing the incentive to recycle.
Fribourg is a small but beautiful city. My housemates and I explored the city during our first weekend here. We had tea at Café du Belvédère and it was a very soothing experience. People were simply chatting and enjoying the good weather and superb view of the old city. The slower pace of life is a refreshing break from the hectic Singapore lifestyle.
Today, we started our first day at work and I was introduced to some of the people in the same co-working place as I am based in. Even though some of them could not speak English, they were still very warm and friendly to me.
Most companies have two-hour lunch breaks and my company also has short 15-minute breaks during working hours. The working environment here is much more flexible and relaxed. During breaks, people gather around the recreational corner and play table soccer to destress and bond with one another. My first day of work was quite an enjoyable one and I look forward to the rest of the trip!
The 10 – 12 weeks Immersion Program, a joint collaboration between HEG-FR and SMU, is an entrepreneurial exposure for students through an internship with a start-up or SME organization either attached or located near the university where the program is offered. It delivers an experience in an entrepreneurial environment as a part of students’ education.