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My Journey From Zugerberg to the Rockies

September 21, 2015

My name is Reto Ammann and I am studying International Management and Economics at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (LUASA). Currently however, I am completing an exchange semester at University of Colorado Boulder in the United States. In this article, I would like to tell you about my journey to Bolder.
My interest in foreign cultures and international studies goes back a long way. As far as I can remember I have always had friends from all over the world. My family moved to the U.S. when I was very young, and we stayed there for 5 years, I feel this exposure to another culture at an early age made me curious about other people. I wanted to be a global citizen. At the age of 15 my parents sent me to the Institute Montana, an international school in the canton of Zug, where I studied for my High School and International Baccalaureate Diploma. The campus extends along the crest of the Zugerberg at an altitude of 995m offering beautiful views over the lake of Zug. The school has some famous alumni such as John Kerry and Marc Forster. In addition to an international schooling system, the Institute Montana offered me the opportunity to interact with different cultures and languages on a daily basis. This nurtured and developed my interest towards international communities even further and ever since, I have felt comfortable in any international setting. During the summer break of my senior year, I participated in the Global Young Leadership Conference, which was held over two weeks in Washington DC and New York. This conference was set up as a model United Nations simulation, during which we gained deeper insight into the inner workings of the UN and what issues the delegates confront. It was a very interesting and exciting time for me and was one of the main reasons why I decided to enroll in an International Management and Economics Bachelor (IM&E) at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Lucerne.
My first day in Lucerne was strange, which is not uncommon, I was excited to meet new people. Looking back now, my five semesters at the university has been a great experience allowing me to make many valuable connections and friends. The lecturers are very supportive and the courses are taught in an inclusive fashion that encourages teamwork and collaboration. Students are given a fair amount of responsibility and autonomy; this teaching style prepares students well to transition from the academic world to the professional field. I am fortunate to have studied at an institution that understands the significance of such qualities and effectively integrates them into its syllabus. However, due to its competitiveness, the Bachelor studies can be very demanding and time-consuming. It is therefore essential to have a good work-life balance. For that reason, I took part in many extracurricular activities, such as participating in the Student Union and playing ice hockey and tennis. Apart from sports, my passion is traveling to visit my friends who live in various countries around the world.
In my sixth semester at LUASA, I opted to go on exchange for one semester to the University of Boulder, Colorado. Initially, I had to adapt to the American education system, which offers more guidance than the Swiss system. In my opinion, both systems have their advantages and disadvantages. CU Boulder guides their students through the process of obtaining their Bachelors degree, which is arguably why they have a lower fail rate than the LUASA. Moreover, the American system places higher emphasis on teaching critical thinking and debating skills. In contrast, the IM&E bachelor provides students with the skills needed to obtain a degree and offers students the freedom to use those skills as they see fit. This teaching method arguably emulates the professional life more realistically than continuous guidance, which is why I personally believe LUASA graduates will find the transition to the work life easier than those who obtain American University degrees.
I arrived in Boulder in early January, to find a beautiful, trendy and progressive town located at the base of the foothills of the Flatirons at an altitude of 1,655m. Colorado is known for great skiing and for a Swiss this means hitting the slopes as often as possible. During spring break I joined the College Snowboarding Club on a ski-trip to Lake Tahoe, where we rented a house sleeping 35 people. The trip included skiing, swimming in the stunning lake, eating delicious food with a fun group of people and, not to mention, losing some money at the Casinos. From Bolder it is easy to travel around the country, the best trip so far has been our excursion to Coachella Music and Arts Festival, just outside of Palm Springs, California. The great line up of artists; the fantastic sunshine and the fun festival goers made it an unforgettable experience. Over the next few weeks my friends and I plan to visit some national parks in Utah, Nevada and Arizona.

Arches National Park, Utah

Sadly, my exchange semester is coming to an end, my time in the United States has been fantastic; I have had the privilege of meeting many amazing people from around the world whose friendships are invaluable. I know that these new friends are planning on visiting me in Switzerland, which makes leaving a bit easier. My exchange semester at CU has been nothing short of amazing and it will be very difficult to leave Boulder. I can say without doubt, that these have been some of the best months in my life so far. My time at here has motivated me to enroll in a Masters program in the United States. My experience at both institutions, LUASA and CU Boulder, have thoroughly prepared me to take these next steps both academically and professionally.
In acknowledging the instrumental work of both institutions, I must also take a moment to thank my family for making all those amazing moments and experiences possible. Their advice has been invaluable, and support unwavering and encouraging in both my academic and personal life. For that I am deeply grateful!

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