A summer in Switzerland

Sophomore visits childhood friend in Switzerland after moving to Austin


Photo submitted by Josie Clinton

Josie and Chiara have a photoshoot in a library during Josie's visit back to Zürich.

Priya Gregerson, Staff Reporter

A gentle push of brisk, snow-capped mountain air smelling of edelweiss blossoms and age old beech trees surges onto the cheeks noses and ears of the townspeople. The grand Fraumünster Church’s aquamarine roof stands tall over the crystalline lake. Beauty like this can only be found in no other than Zürich, Switzerland.

When sophomore Josie Clinton was in second grade, she moved with her family from San Francisco, Calif. to Zürich, a total of 5,819 miles away. Josie visited Zürich for two weeks last summer- the first time she had been back since she moved to Austin. 

“I went back to my old class and said hello to my teacher and all of my old classmates which was pretty intense and scary,” Josie said. “One day I saw friends from my elementary school and then the next day, I saw friends from a different school. So pretty much the whole time there I met up with friends. It didn’t feel real visiting back last summer, it felt like a dream. It makes me wonder what would’ve happened if I had stayed there.”

During those two weeks in Switzerland, Josie reunited with her best friend, Chiara. They met in seventh grade. Josie said she thinks it’s important to keep in touch with friends even if they’re miles away. Chiara said it meant a lot to her to have Josie visit Switzerland.

“Josie is like a fixed point in my life,” Chiara said. “I can always rely on her and I know she’ll never judge me. We text each other almost everyday. I’m always happy to see that I received a message from her and I can’t wait to tell her stuff I do. As she left I got depression, and I went through a bad time. Keeping in touch with her kind of saved me. I can’t even describe what I feel for her, she means so much to me.”

Josie Clinton
The two girls take a selfie in the sun while in seventh grade.

When Josie first moved to Switzerland, she joined an integration program specialized in teaching international students in both English and German. They implemented German into the class to set students up for success in public school. Josie still fluently speaks German, although she says some days are better than others. She speaks English, German and Swiss-German, a German dialect.

“I definitely don’t have a preference [on whether I speak German or English],” Josie said. “I know that I will be teaching my children German in the future even if we’re living in the United States, because you know, it’s pretty different. [It’s] kind of weird talking about speaking German because it’s just normal. So many people in this world speak multiple languages. My best friend speaks French, Italian, German and English so well.”

Josie said her most cherished memory she has with Chiara was a week long sleepover the summer before she moved to Austin. Every night, the two girls would either stay at Josie’s house or Chiara’s house. During the days that week, they would either shop around the mall or ride around the city on their penny boards. Chiara also said she really enjoyed that week. 

“We talked the whole time, and just spent a week doing everything together,” Chiara said. “It was so fun, we were in a hotel and had to buy our dinner so we went to the grocery store and felt so grown up as we paid.”

Josie and Chiara reminisced on their childhood days.

“If you were [looking for us], you had to go to the lake just to find us there laying around on the ground like lizards enjoying every sun ray possible,” Chiara said. “We walked around and did photo shoots in the whole city. I really miss those days.”