Switzerland To Do list

Am I really more likely to stick with a plan if I post a blog article detailing said plan? I don’t know, but it can’t do any harm, right?

Basel, Switzerland

Alright, so I’m one month into my Year In Europe. I’ve had enough time to settle into the area, deal with the bureaucracy associated with a continental shift, get used to working full-time once more, start meeting people and amass the funds required to do interesting things. It’s now time for me to start looking ahead and planning. After all, I found my time in the USA so fulfilling and worthwhile because I had very strong ideas about what I wanted to get out of my time there.

There are two all-encompassing reasons why I was keen to go to another country for a year:

– To broaden your horizons.

– To consolidate your skills, in a way that is equal to or more effective than if you’d stayed in your home country.

OK, fair dos. In that spirit I now need to set criteria and goals to help me get the most out of my time in Switzerland.

I. Learn German. Ideally to what the Americans classify as “Business Proficiency” (ie, able to have a flowing conversation on a random topic without needing to scrabble around for words or phrases). That might be a tall order – I’m starting from scratch after all – but it’s something I can work at afterwards. If I can’t get discounted classes at Novartis any time soon, then I’ll need to look further afield. The deadline for kicking this off: before month number two.

II. Fully explore Switzerland. So not just tick off the big cities, but get a taste for the countryside and the general Alpine areas. Switzerland is a tiny country compared to America! Geneva, Zurich, Bern, Lausanne and the Alps are barely a couple of hours away by train. I have a half-fare railcard. I have a camera. I have weekends. I have no excuse.

III. Make a good stab at exploring Europe. I am disgustingly poorly-travelled when it comes to Europe. I’ve visited Paris a couple of times with my mother, and a secondary school music trip of mine went around Strasbourg and the Black Forest. THAT’S ABOUT IT. It’s become a more shocking omission given that (a) Following university I met people from all over Europe; my friends have studied in Italy, France, Germany, Belgium as part of their degrees; every summer, several people I know will head off Inter-railing. (b) I’m reasonably well-travelled around the USA and Canada, at least given the time I was over there. (c) Most of Europe is no more than a 5 hour budget flight away from my Scottish base, i.e. Edinburgh. Basel is situated slap-bag in central Europe, and is linked up to both the German and French railways. Basel airport is well-served by the budget airlines, too. I’ve got a list forming in my head: Germany, Austria, France, Italy and the Netherlands are all in there.

IV. Apply to the American grad schools. At this point in time it feels like a mammoth task, and one I’m not sure of the outcome. However, it’s what I want to do, so I’m doing it. Hence why I’ve been a bit slow to get my travelling on…

V. Professional development.  I want to work out my future career plans and form a clearer idea of what I want to do with myself. Pharmaceutical industry? Almost certainly. Team leader, Management or Board of Directors? No idea. America, Europe, UK, Far East? No idea. Drug discovery, process development, engineering, biopharma? No idea. It isn’t urgent that I sort this out, but it would be nice to narrow down my options, especially since postgrad studies will make me specialise. Best I know what I want to specialise in…

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