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Junior Tessa Nunlist Tells About her Switzerland Exchange

Submitted by on March 25, 2015 – 12:03 pm
Tessa and her Swiss cousins strike a pose while on a hike near St. Moritz.

Tessa and her Swiss cousins strike a pose while on a hike near St. Moritz.

Polson High School and Salishian welcome back Junior Tessa Nunlist from her six-and-half month trip to St. Moritz, Switzerland. Every other year Polson High School welcomes students from other countries whom we know as “foreign exchange students.” But not very often do we welcome back our students from foreign places.

Typically these exchange students go through processes to come to school here for a limited amount of time; either a semester or perhaps a full school year. The kids can travel with the aid of an exchange program. The programs that are most common are Education First (EF) and American Field Service (AFS). The kids that are in these programs typically have to be fluent in the language of the country they are going to and academically excelling at their school in their home country. Nunlist had to meet many of these standards as well however her process was unique in some ways.

A hillside view of St. Moritz.

A hillside view of St. Moritz.

Nunlist decided on the location for her exchange early last summer. She decided to go to St. Moritz Switzerland. Nunlist shares that she was “always very interested in foreign exchange,” and Switzerland seemed like the best option because of family ties with the country. Many of her dad’s side of the family live in Switzerland today and her “full Swiss” grandfather emigrated to America in his early twenties from St. Moritz.

Like her grandfather many years ago, Nunlist “was in need of a culture change,” she shared. Tessa finalized details with her parents and found relatives to stay with soon after deciding she wanted to go. She asked her father’s cousins, her second cousins, if she could visit over the fall semester and they replied quickly with an, “of course.” Although as in Polson there are mountains and snow in St. Moritz, the home life was very different for Tessa; who had previously lived with just her mother and father. Her Swiss family consisted of five people.

The Haslers household included two girls right around Tessa’s age and one boy three years younger than her. At home, she got to be close with friends, but never really had another sibling living in the house. Tessa shared that “the hardest thing about staying in Switzerland it was not having the same amount of space for privacy, because we lived in a small flat and nothing was really my own anymore.”

Regardless of a lack of personal space, or maybe due to it, the kids in the family “became my very close friends,” shared Nunlist. And when it finally came time to leave Nunlist shared that the two parents expressed how happy they were that she stayed and Nunlist felt. And that she felt  she was “very welcome and safe there.” Tessa concluded that “tt was a positive experience overall,” and recommended it to others.