by Sophia Taylor, exchange student from Ghana, 25 February 2021
My name is Theodora Sophia Taylor. Most people call me Sophia. I’m a postgraduate student at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana. I came to Zurich as an ETH Zurich for Development student at Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology. It was generally a bad time everywhere in the world. It was a miracle I even got the visa to come to Switzerland. For the kind of work I wanted to do, I knew the best place for me would be Eawag. I had already met some researchers from there and other Swiss agencies, so I had somewhat of a first experience. I was working on using coconut husk powder to treat greywater for household reuse. I had heard about the WaterHub/Nest project, and my greywater treatment research was in line with it. As I boarded my flight out of Ghana, I experienced an array of emotions and I had a lot of expectations. I was generally excited for my first trip abroad thanks to ETH Zurich. I was aware that it was going to be quite different with masks and social distancing, but I was still jubilant.
The city and its people
I loved the beautiful scenery. Swiss people are nice I must say. I soon became accustomed to saying ‘grüezi’. I won’t say I experienced any cultural shock, or did I? Probably it is how punctual Swiss people were that always surprised me. Knowing that the situation was not the same back home, it felt different to see people drink water so comfortably from the tap and fountains within the city. Initially, I was quite scared to go out because the COVID-19 cases spiked up a few days after my arrival, so I was working from home most times. Later on, I made some lovely memories; from my small trips up the mountains, to the walks along the lake and drives within the city. These made me appreciate nature and understand better the aesthetic value of the environment.
The most exciting thing about the entire trip for me was seeing snow. It may seem a bit funny, but being my first time abroad it may take a while to forget the feeling. I read the weather report so I knew snow was coming, plus I also had a mental picture of it. It was, however, more beautiful than I could have imagined. I was out most part of this day, taking pictures around Rigiblick where I was staying, in the forests and streets.
I was on the ETH campus a few times before classes were virtual. Outdoor dinners, office coffee breaks and lunch mini discussions with Department of Sanitation, Water and Solid Waste for Development (SANDEC) colleagues were all fun. I miss the roasted chestnuts and Christmas lights around town. Although I could not visit many places and do much, I still enjoyed my time and look forward to doing it again when the opportunity presents itself.
About the author
Born and raised in Ghana. A master’s student of the Regional Water and Sanitation Centre, Kumasi- Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. WASH enthusiast and a movie lover.