How living in a foreign land matters- an experience



Living in a new country on your own is something to experience once in your lifetime. With everyone you know thinking that you are having the best time of your life, you might be going through a feat on your own by coping with the culture of the place, its rules and regulations, and most importantly, finding new connections.

Living on my own has helped me jump out of my comfort zone and enjoy my freedom, which has made me find a lot about myself. When you start to appreciate yourself, you will even be able to celebrate your own birthday alone!



At some point in life, everyone goes through a phase of anxiety and trauma that hits them in varying degrees and angles. Me, coming from a foreign land, found my first few years very challenging to adapt to the central European culture. Though I appreciate the idea of more personal space compared to what I had in India, my home country, connecting with people required tremendous effort from my side, which wasn't easy and not one of my memorable moments. When going through tough times, I realized that there was no one noticing my struggles, as if almost invisible. Being generally shy to ask for help, I thought of helping myself out by doing small fun things alone.




At this point, on one fine day, I decided to embrace the immense personal space that I had to explore. I started by taking short visits and hikes across Switzerland, where I lived, which made me discover the immense beauty of the place in a new light. It was scary at first for a foreigner like me, who was not used to navigating everything in my life on my own, to put a foot forward. Anxiety soared many times, leading me to cancel plans by intentionally finding reasons. But eventually, I realized that I was enjoying my own company, by doing fun activities and learning from mistakes. This new confidence even made me more productive in my research. 




It all starts with pursuing what you love to do, and deciding what you want to do. Making decisions can be scary, even making a step forward for a coffee or a hike outside, but if you do it once, you find the utmost fulfillment. 






In the end, everyone has a story, with each writing style different from the other. I share mine with the hope that someone else finds theirs!

Embracing the art of authenticity: a personal journey

 

Living in a world that demands to be successful and popular, I have most of the time chosen to navigate life with a different compass. For that, it has always been important to view life with a different eye. While my profession demands adherence to facts and logic, most of the places that I have visited have been bits and pieces of my never-ending poem. 


Travel, for me, is not just about visiting destinations but about immersing myself in their essence. Take for instance, my travel to Prague. Instead of preparing for the journey by looking up video reels that say about 'ten things to do in Prague', I plundered over my interests. Each detail meticulously researched, and every corner explored with curiosity, the travel itinerary had everything I wanted including time for spontaneous plans, to eat a Trdelník (chimney cake) for instance. After I left the place, I was quite sure that I missed an important or highly recommended landmark, but the true essence of the place lingered in my mind, thus validating my approach in the end. 


From my own travel experiences, I have come to realize the importance of embracing individuality when crafting one's journey.  When one wants to travel somewhere and plans what to do, it is always good to think how another person in the same position might be thinking the same way when visiting your homeland. A European colleague of mine had asked me which places are interesting in Kerala, my homeland in India, if she is visiting. I gave this some thought. Clearly, a journey on a touristy houseboat along the backwaters of Kerala, though appealing to many others, might be too artificial for her. Experiencing the monsoon in the rainforests along the Western Ghats mountain range would definitely be interesting. In the end, it took me so much time to answer what would be interesting for her to do in Kerala, even though Kerala is one of the most beautiful places I know. This was also a reminder for me to remember when I travel that true exploration lies not in ticking off the 'must-see' sights, but in maintaining meaningful connections with the places that I visit.

Due to these reasons, I firmly believe in the power of the individual mind and its perspectives. Whether through travel, art or any creative endeavor, every interest is subjective, and every decision is connected. Though I am writing a blog for the world to see and be influenced, I think following my mind and maintaining my own style is the best way to convey ideas to the world. A unique voice and lens matter. In the end, it is all about not following the crowd, and having a signature of your own. There lies the influence.




Long hikes in the Zermatt region of Switzerland

 
During the time I lived in Switzerland, going out for hikes was a habit to freshen up my body and mind. So far, the hikes around Zermatt that is situated in the southern part of Switzerland and famous for the impressive mountain Matterhorn, have been my favorite. A few of the long hikes that I did in that region were quite impressive, and are worth spending a day or two just for this purpose. There are a number of hiking trails categorized in terms of difficulty listed in the Zermatt website (www.zermatt.ch), but I think most of us like to make personal choices irrespective of the detailed descriptions available in the websites. In this post, I suggest a few challenging and fruitful hikes that can be done in the Zermatt region.

Relaxing near the restaurant-hut in Fluhalp after a day's hike; Matterhorn in the background



The hike from the village of Täsch all the way to Fluhalp is a very impressive and challenging hike, especially for people like me who are experienced only with hikes of medium levels of difficulty. The entire hike that I did with a group is a combined one (Täschalp-Fluhalp, Nr. 46 and hike to the Täsch Hut, Nr. 45 in the website). Our group ascended from the village of Täsch, crossed Täschalp and the Pfulwe Pass and finally reached Fluhalp after roughly eight hours of hiking.  One should keep in mind that there might not be possible spots to take rest if the topmost portion of the Pass is covered in snow.
Taking a break while hiking across the Pfulwe Mountain Pass




Overall, the hike is a gradual but steep ascent from Täsch (ascent of around 1 km), and therefore is important to maintain your pace during the entire hike. In terms of technique, crossing the Pfulwe Pass was challenging for me due to thick layers of snow that slowed down my pace, and also scared me at times when my legs went all the way down the snow to get wet. At this point, sturdy alpine hiking shoes are necessarily required for crossing the Pass. Just after reaching the top of Pfulwe, a glimpse of Matterhorn towering over the other mountains is visible. The last part of the hike involves a comparatively easier trail until Fluhalp, where the mountain hut/restaurant (https://www.fluhalp.swissis located. 

View of Matterhorn after crossing the Pfulwe Pass




Fluhalp is a picturesque mountain stop that gives the experience of a postcard landscape. This stop is accessible also by cable car on the other side of the mountain (Zermatt to Sunnegga or Blauherd), after which a short hike takes you to the mountain hut. As many tourists go here to enjoy the view of Matterhorn and some local food, the mountain hut/restaurant here has all the necessary amenities for a good stay overnight or for a day more. There are even nice showers, but you get hot water only for a few minutes! However, the fresh alpine water gives a great feeling especially after a good hike 😀. The place is nice to enjoy in summer, but due to increasing popularity among tourists, I would suggest to visit the place either in early or late summer.

View of Matterhorn from lake Stellisee, close to Fluhalp mountain restaurant




Yet another time, I decided to hike all the way to Täsch Hut (Hike to the Täsch Hut, Nr. 45), of which not many pictures were taken during the hike. However, the hike up to the hut gives a nice experience of alpine wildlife. A stay in the hut is recommended and can be reserved beforehand (https://www.taeschhuette.ch), but it is important to know that the place has amenities that you normally expect from a mountain hut. Though a view of Matterhorn is hindered from the hut, even larger mountains such as Weisshorn (4505 m) are visible. Due to the close experience with nature, I recommend taking this hike for a stay in the alps.

View of the mountains from Täschalp





Hike to the Hörnli hut, also known as the Hörnli Trail (Nr. 27 in the Zermatt website) is comparatively short in distance, but challenging at the same time. This one is strictly an alpine trail, which requires the use of hands at times to find the way through and courage not to look down at some tight spots that give you the feeling of hanging over a cliff. The hike starts from Schwarzsee, reachable also by cable car.
The ascent from Schwarzsee to Hörnli




The Hörnli hut/restaurant is situated at 3,260 m above sea level, and gives you a close view of the towering Matterhorn. Most of the hikers who stay at this base camp also have their next day planned to climb up the Matterhorn peak. Due to the steepness of the peak, it is necessary to be experienced in rock climbing. However, reaching until the basecamp is something to be proud and happy about!


View of Matterhorn at 3,260 m a.s.l


There are many more interesting hikes and places in the area, which are definitely not possible to be covered in limited time. However, I would encourage anyone to do and see as much as they can, as this place will surely remain in one's memories for a long time!