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A Singaporean student’s journey at Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland

Ducks float on Lake Geneva on a rainy day with the snowy Alps mountains in the background in Lausanne. Source: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

When it was time to choose a university, Singaporean Chris Menon felt it was time to spread his wings beyond the little red dot. After completing his International Baccalaureate diploma and two-year national military service, he enrolled at Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne. Thus began a whirlwind trip around the world. 

For Menon, Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne truly embodies what it means to offer its students an international experience without boundaries. Having grown up in one place for all his life, he wanted to make full use of the chance to live independently in a foreign country. Below we talk to this student about what life in Switzerland was like:

What made you choose to study for your bachelor’s in hospitality management at Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland?

Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne is the most respected name in the hospitality industry, it was therefore an honour to pursue my studies at this school. Switzerland and Singapore are like two sides of the same coin: clean, efficient, orderly and diverse. This way, it’s all the things I enjoy and appreciate but overseas!

Do you think it would have made a difference if you studied at a local institution?

I spent my whole life in Singapore, it was time to spread my wings and fly since that option was available to me. If I had studied in Singapore, I would never have left my comfort zone and experienced what it’s like to be independent.

Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne

For Menon, Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne truly embodies what it means to offer its students an international experience without boundaries. Source: Chris Menon

What has been your most memorable class so far?

My most memorable class has been Topics in Financial Analysis because the teacher who taught the subject was so effusive and passionate. She was also super keen to share her knowledge with students that even the least numerically-inclined student would gain interest in finance!

How have your lecturers supported you in your studies thus far?

So many teachers go above and beyond when teaching their courses by building meaningful relationships with their students that last far beyond once done. It’s clear when teachers have put in that little bit of extra time to make sure all resources possible are available to students. 

Do you get to apply the theories you learnt to the real world?

Yes! As part of the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne course, two six-month internships are incorporated into our curriculum design. This means we routinely get the chance to practice the skills we’ve been learning.

What are your academic goals?

Since my academic goals are constantly changing, the only thing constant in this world is change itself. It’s best not to have fixed plans for the long term as you never know when new opportunities will present themselves.

What do you like most about Switzerland?

It’s certainly a lot more suburban than the metropolitan life I’m used to in Singapore, but that also means it offers stunning landscapes that you can’t find on the Little Red Dot. Switzerland has mountains, valleys and glittering lakes.

Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne

A whole new world and experience, Menon had his cultural perspective broadened during his time abroad. Source: Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne

Three fun facts:

One, I’ve had four German shepherds in my lifetime. Two, I had just become a trained spin-class instructor in Switzerland, but the pandemic hit before I had the chance to teach and I had to come back to Singapore. Three, I happened to see Britney Spears in a hotel car park when she was in Singapore!

Have you explored the region, which location stood out to you?

I’ve explored Geneva, Zurich, Verbier, Bad Ragaz and St. Moritz. My favourite would have to be St. Moritz, even though it is very far and difficult to reach. I also went during Christmas time, so everything from the texture of the snowflakes to the colour of the sky was something I had never dreamed of before.

Tell us about the local food there.

My favourite Swiss dish would have to be rösti (a type of potato fritter)! I also like beef tartare and goat’s cheese. My least favourite would be the meat fondue because it makes my clothes smell bad.

What advice do you have for international students looking to start a new chapter in Switzerland?

Start taking French classes! It will make your life a bit easier and will make the country feel a little more like home.