Posted on Aug 10, 2017
Wow the time has come for me to depart for Switzerland. The past 12 months have flew by ever so quickly and here I am now 16,622 km away from home.
Friday 16th June was the big day where I departed from the Devonport airport with 20 hours of flying ahead. I arrived in Switzerland at the Zurich airport at 6:10 am on Saturday feeling very jet lagged from the flight and having going back 8 hours from local Tassie time. It was so nice to see the smiling face of Christa (2016 exchangee from Switzerland) waiting for me at the departure gate. We proceeded to get my luggage and continued on to the train station which I caught to the center of Zurich and met my first host family the Windlin’s, which I will be staying with for the next four weeks. They are quite a large household with wife Yvette husband Walti there three daughters Natalie, Lina ( is currently on exchange in Scotland with Will Cragie) Emely and son Ivan, grandma and grandpa also live with them in the house.
Yvette met me at the train station with her brother Albi and we spent some time getting to know one another with Natalie catching up with us later that afternoon.
My first day was about getting to know the family and where they lived. They live in central Switzerland in the canton of Sarnen and village of Kerns. Yvette and Walti run a bio dairy farming operation with 21 brown swiss cows, during the winter they are housed in a barn located next to their house and run on the 10 acres they own. During summer all the cows, heifers and calves are taken up the alps which they are currently leasing, consisting of 280 acres. Bio farming is huge in Switzerland, they get a lot of financial support from the government in helping keep the native grasses in the pastures, many times when walking through the fields I have seen native strawberries, herbs like parsley, mint and coriander, it really does look beautiful but its so rewarding for the farmers and the environment.
My first three weeks in Switzerland have been amazing, I have stayed and helped milk the cows up in the alps, been part of the every day running of the farm with hay making and moving the stock across the mountain and even got to do some hiking. When not helping on the farm Yvette is a home economics teacher, so every Thursday and Friday I have helped her and the students with cooking and got to teach them a few things about Tasmania.
I have also been part of the International Farming Youth Exchange incoming weekend where I met 19 other exchangee from Costa Rica, Astonia, Scotland, Wales, Norway, USA, Taiwan, South Korea and Finland. We all spent a fun weekend together getting to know one another during a hike to the Sittlisalp cheese and yoghurt factory. The factory is located on an alp and there are 9 farms in the area with around 110 cows in total, all 9 farms bring their milk to the one factory and they all put in the time and effort in the making of the cheeses and yogurt, they supply the local town in Urigen but mostly rely on hikers and tourists to buy their products.
This last week has mostly consisted of hay making as its perfect drying weather, a stunning 28-30 degrees nearly everyday so far, but I did get to visit the local mushroom factory where Emely and Ivan work at every Saturday morning and then onto Luzern for a visit around the city.
That’s all from me for now, I would like to wish those who put in for the 2018 exchange all the very best and it is an amazing experience!