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  • Jonathan Neeley

My plans for Switzerland became my plans for VLE (Virtual Learning Environment).

My plan was to finish culinary school in Portland OR, complete my internship at the L’auberge Hotel in San Diego CA. Then immediately move to Switzerland in March to begin my studies at Hotel Institute Montreux. It is now May and I’m halfway through my 3rd term at HIM through VLE learning platform.

I filed my two weeks’ notice at The L’auberge Hotel at the end February and my last week at the hotel was unusually slow. I saw what was going on in Wuhan China on the news and remarked at how dangerous that was to my sue chef, he agreed but we both then spoke about how there had been breakouts of things our whole lifetimes and they handle this sort of thing regardless of how bad it gets.

I’m now gathering my previous pay check and saying goodbye to my coworkers. But very few of them are there the hotel is empty. I thought this just a strange occurrence I had no idea it was the precursor to so much more that the reason the hotel was empty was the whole world was bracing for impact.

I had to adapt quickly. It seemed like overnight the alarm had been sound and the streets were empty. Six months had gone by and the amount of life changing events that have happened is staggering. I got engaged to the most amazing woman in the world Tamsin and the world had completely melted down but now I’m moving faster. But I had hit the pause on my life for 6 months. I waited to go to Switzerland the first two semesters of the crisis and I do still think that was the right idea. It even gave me a greater drive I just wanted to get my life started again. So in October I went to Switzerland to begin my education at HIM.

There were so many emotions going through me the day I was leaving. 1 months prior I had proposed to my girlfriend at the time of two years. It may have been a hard decision to make. To propose and then leave for what at the time was going to be 9 months. But we were working on a plan to get her out to Switzerland for a few months at a time. We were entirely freaked out by the growing epidemic. It seemed that things were going to get better at that time. But we both knew I needed to get this done.

Tamsin Bremner / Jonathan Neeley September Engagement

I get to Switzerland protocols are tight and the energy is reserved you could say business as usual but this was different. I had to adapt quickly; this was different for me. Away from home, honestly, I was really scared I had done a lot of things in my life but nothing as extreme as moving country’s let alone across the sea. But I focused on my work and I began moving faster, which helped me ignore how much I missed my fiancé.

I had to quarantine for 10 days and that was actually so strange that I very much don’t like to relive it. But I did get a benefit from it. I had to participate with VLE at this time so I was able to learn the UI while at school not with a 9 hour difference. Witch became a problem later.

I meet people from everywhere. Italy, Bulgaria, French, china, Korea, Vietnam, Romania, Croatia, Jordan, hungry. Just to name off the top of my head. The strict covid regulations make the social life a little difficult but I make some friends that have been vital to my success at HIM. I’m back in a dorm room again after 4 year of living in my own place. This was a adjustment

The view of Montreux from my room during 10-day quarantine

Then came the spike in cases in Switzerland it was October second when the cases started spiking and it was October second when I arrived. There were hushed rumors that the school might have to go into quarantine, as a few students had had outbreaks and it became re occurring. I saw what was building and I pulled the trigger I called my family and said that I need to leave the lockdown is incoming. As soon as VLE was on the table I went. I want my life to start again but not at the risk of losing it. The flight home was strange, very dystopian with the few people per flight and masks on identity-less people sitting still in the hull of a plane humming like an echo chamber thirty thousand feet in the air.

Seeing my fiancé was such sweet relief it was like I was holding my breath the whole way. I kept telling myself that I just need to keep moving faster. But the world wasn’t going to let me catch my breath. I immediately went into VLE online classes and it was okay because I had learned the ins and outs enough that I wasn’t confused witch if I hadn’t would have been a nightmare. I had to adapt quickly to the new sleep schedule. My father called it “sleeping on navy time” just getting a few hours every so often and wherever you can get it. Luckily the school worked with me and we found solutions every semester. And at least I didn’t have to shave anymore.

Shaved Jonathan !

VLE presents challenges in everything certainly it poses difficulty in group work and class dialog but the great teachers and student of HIM challenge that every day right back. That’s what I love about this school. “according to the university of Scranton 92% of people don’t reach their goals (Schwantes, 2016)” and in such uncertain time like now I know it can be really hard to gather the energy or the will to continue as if nothings wrong. But I invite you to look at challenge not as a curse or a hindrance but an opportunity to learn to grown and to evolve, like Clarence explained in her blog post.

Please like and comment if you enjoyed my story. Thanks!

Author: Mr Jonathan Neeley , Hospitality Bachelor Student at Hotel Institute Montreux (HIM), from USA.

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