Student Spotlight – Adrien Zweifel

Adrien Zweifel is from Switzerland, and has been studying for 12 weeks in our Academic Year Program during his gap year. Adrien is well known at ELC for his amazing violin skills and dazzling students and staff with mini concerts between classes. Adrien has become a friendly face you can expect to see at any activity and is currently ELC Boston’s ping pong champion!

Where were you born and raised? Give us a mental picture of the place.
I was born in Switzerland in the French speaking part. I was raised there my whole life in a small village in the outskirts of Geneva. We have a very good view of the lake and it’s very rural. I really like it there. We can see the mountains even though we are 1 hour away from them.

What do you do for fun? What are your hobbies?
I do a lot of things for fun, but mostly hanging out with my friends and my family. I really enjoy playing the violin, skiing, playing tennis, and sailing. I used to race, now I just sail for fun.

What is your special talent?
I think my special talent playing the violin, that’s the thing I most enjoy doing. I began playing when I was five. I really enjoy playing because it makes me feel so many feelings that I don’t have at any other moment in my life. I will play for the rest of my life until my fingers can’t move.

What is your profession? What do you like about it?
I’m still a student, I just finished high school last year and I’m beginning university in September. I will start with Economics in order to apply for my Master’s in International Relations. The school and Master’s program I’m interested in, they are looking for people with specialized Bachelor’s degrees that relate to International Relations. I’m very interested in the conflicts in Eastern countries, so I’m looking at a very specific program. In a way I am thinking backwards from the Master’s program I know I want to do, which I know not a lot of people do.

Tell us about your family, do you have kids? Siblings? Pets? Do they live close to you?
I have two brothers and one sister, all younger than me. I am the oldest and we are four children. We all live together, it is definitely a very loud house! I’ll send my siblings here for their gap year or on their holidays. For pets, I have one cat and two rabbits. My cat’s name is Talia, she looks like a big ball of fur and looks very grumpy. I’m really more of a dog person, but yeah, I like cats.

Why did you choose to study English in Boston? Did you consider other options?
I did consider other cities, but then my dad suggested Boston. I didn’t know much about Boston, but I began to do some research and I definitely figured out that it was my kind of city. It’s a human-sized city. What I mean is that it’s kind of small, but for me Boston is the perfect size. It’s still big, but there is a city center and different neighborhoods, but it’s small enough that it is easy to travel. You can take the train or just walk everywhere. Also, in Switzerland, we don’t have any sea ocean and Boston is right on the coast! I have been to other cities in the U.S. but I think Boston is the perfect city for me to live in. Another reason I chose Boston is because it’s one of the first cities in the U.S. so you can see all the old buildings and get all the history and museums that you might not get in another city.

What are all the ways that Boston is different than your city/town?
Boston is much bigger than where I come from. I don’t have a lot of knowledge about architecture, but all the buildings in Boston made of the red bricks remind me of Ireland or something. The street I live on with my host family, all the houses are like typical 19th and 20th century American house so they’re very big. Even in the entry there’s beautiful archways in front
of the door.

What were you most surprised to learn about the US or Boston? Did you experience any culture shock?
Not really culture shock, but I definitely like American people! You are so open-minded, at least in Boston, and people really make you feel like they are interested in you. Sometimes when I am on the train and speaking French with my friends, people will talk with us and ask us questions about where we are from and what we are doing in Boston. They are very interested in you, which is not what I am used to in Switzerland. People in Switzerland people are a lot more reserved. People in the U.S. are more relaxed and laid back.

What do you miss most about your country?
The obvious answer is my family and friends, but another honest answer would be the chocolate. I think when you have an end date in your mind, you don’t really think about the things you miss from your own country because you are enjoying the new place. I know I will be home in August, so I know those things will still be there when I go home.

What are your top three favorite places in Boston?
Max Brenner especially if you love chocolate. They even have some things I haven’t heard of, like chocolate pizza or chocolate fondue. I love the Boston Public Library, the old part is incredible. Boston Common I also really like, it’s a huge park. I’m really looking forward to seeing Boston Common in the spring. I have seen pictures of the park in the spring with all the
flowers and I can’t believe it’s the same park. Also, Cambridge in general I really like, especially the part near MIT and where you can walk by the River. Of course, ELC if you’re talking about the people!

Where have you found the best food from your country in Boston?
This is a hard questions because I don’t really know what is real Swiss food. Much of our food comes from other places, so it’s hard to figure out exactly what is Swiss food. We have good bread in Switzerland, good chocolate. My family sends me Swiss chocolate every month!

Favorite moment in class at ELC:
I love communication class because that is the one where we have the most interaction with each other. While you’re talking the teacher is still correcting you and your grammar, but you’re also learning a lot about the other students and their cultures. Before I came to ELC, I never imagined a type of lesson such as this.

Favorite activity at ELC:
This is a good question, I loved the ping pong tournament because I beat teacher Matt. All the activities are very cool, but I love potluck! Not only because I can eat, but also because you are interacting with so many people. You really meet some people that you wouldn’t meet at another time because they are in another class. The karaoke activity was also cool for the same reason. Soccer is nice when we can play! I’m looking forward to the Escape the Room activity, I think that will be fun.

What are some tips you have for people who want to learn English?
Just keep trying! I think the lessons here are so good that if you just sit and listen and work at it, you will learn and you will improve. You will see the change in your English. Before I came here I used to watch movies in English and with English subtitles and I think that definitely helped improve my English.

What are your plans after ELC?
I will go home and start university in September, I’m looking forward to it, but it means a lot of work. I will definitely try to open the minds of Swiss people because I will have been here for a long time so I will try to tell people what I have learned about the U.S.

Boston skyline