From Cornell to EHL: Changing field of studies

8 Sep, 2017

Numerous factors go into choosing a field of study and career. In fact, a college major should lead you to a successful career, financial security and a fruitful personal development. That’s a lot of pressure to place on one decision.

Don’t worry, many students decide at least once in their college life to switch their field of study. 

Who is Jake?

My name is Jake Shelton, I’m 22 years old, and I’m an American from New York City. I’m a passionate outdoorsman who loves to fly fish, travel, snowboard and hike. Before coming to EHL I studied at Cornell University and worked at resorts and hotels in Wyoming, New York, and Belize.

What made him choose EHL?

What drew me to EHL was the belief that I needed international exposure, as well as an education experience steeped in the operational side of hospitality in order to meet my future career goals. I’ve aspired to operate my own boutique property in an international location, and I realized that the alumni base and strong history in practical arts that EHL is renowned for, would allow me to realize those goals.

Serving and caring?

I began my undergraduate studies at Cornell University as a biology student interested in pursuing a career in medicine. Serving and caring for others has always been a passion of mine, and medicine seemed like a fulfilling pursuit of those passions. However, at the end of my freshman year at Cornell, I had the privilege of working for a Brush Creek Ranch, a luxury property that was located in Saratoga, Wyoming.

I took a position as a fly fishing guide and loved the constant guest interactions. This was the first time I felt I had found an industry other than medicine where I felt great satisfaction from serving others, and it was from that experience that my love for the field of hospitality began.

Related Article: How does one go from EHL to Harvard?

Switzerland, a second home

Thanks to the AP program, adjusting to Swiss life was a natural occurrence. Intro week was thoughtfully planned out and helped me acclimate both to my new campus as well as my new home in Switzerland. I made sure to select a roommate who was Swiss in order to learn more about local culture and ease into my transition. I also made an effort to visit the hometowns of my Swiss friends at EHL in order to see a number of Cantons while in my first semester.

The easiest adjustment has been using public transportation. The mass transit systems in New York City are always running behind schedule, and confusing to find your way around on. In Switzerland, the trains, buses, and metros are almost always on time and extremely easy to navigate.

The largest challenge while living in Switzerland has been dealing with business hours! Coming from a large city like New York, I’m used to being able to get groceries or go shopping at anytime of day, or any day of the week. It has taken me a long time to adjust to the fact that if I want to complete an errand, it must be done before 17:00 and before the weekend.

New perspectives

There were definitely days where I missed my family, close friends and the creature comforts of home. That being said, I feel that I have found a second home at EHL and in Switzerland. Studying in Switzerland, the heart of hospitality and international culture, will give me a better perspective on how I view my future endeavors.

In an increasingly globalized community it is of the utmost importance to be exposed to varying viewpoints and business practices. My experiences in Europe have already lead me down paths I never thought I would go, and I’m currently in the process of obtaining German citizenship.

Advice for future EHL students

If you are considering it, do not hesitate.

Whether it is the chance to study abroad for a semester or coming to pursue a degree in Lausanne, I can only see the benefits of deriving your education from an international community. Being immersed in a multitude of various cultures, religions and languages will give you a unique perspective on your studies that I struggled to find while within the United States.

Coming to study at EHL has been the single most enriching experience of my life. I would recommend that you embrace the local culture and customs and get out of your comfort zone. Try to learn a new language, strike up conversations with locals while exploring Lausanne, hike the vineyards surrounding Lac Leman, travel to surrounding countries on weekends, and learn as much about your peers as you can.

In the midst of soaking up the new cultures, don’t forget to share your own identity. Many Americans feel that their heritage is less interesting than that of Europeans, but I’ve found my fellow students at EHL want to hear about my experiences growing up in America.

In regards to being successful at EHL… get a watch and be on time!

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