I met Raphaela over chicken soup in our Huaraz hostel as she recovered from a bout of altitude sickness. She and several other Swiss friends were travelling post graduation from med school, calmly waiting their results (which they received during the week we spent together). Raphaela and I were both rendered useless by an evil combo of dirty raw carrots and mean-ass snow storm in the Huascarán National Park while hiking the Santa Cruz trail, which reduced us nightly to foetal positions on our tent floor. It was from this position that we decided to believe that “It’s Only Fun if It’s Sucks.” As in, at the moment all you want to do is gouge out your own eyes with a teaspoon from the frustration of it all…but one day, what’s perplexing you will be become an amusing memory and/or anecdote that will see you entertaining dinner guests until the years when your prune-like bum’s all but fallen to the floor.
How has being Swiss left its mark on you?
The Swiss are actually not known for being very open – so I hope I differ from that! I think it’s the landscapes that I feel and love: Mountains and snow. That’s where I feel at home. It’s hard, I don’t know what “Swiss” characteristics would be. I think for me, it’s just my love of the mountains.
What would your 13-year-old self think about you if they met you?
I think she’d be pretty happy with what I’ve achieved so far, that I can travel. I hope she’d be pleased…13 is the age I first travelled without my parents and I think she’d be happy to see me travelling with friends, as she always wanted to do that.
If you could meet your 13-year-old self, what would you say to her?
I’d tell her to travel more often during university, because that’s when you have time to do it!
How do you make decisions?
I like to have time to make them, it’s really helpful. I actually don’t do the whole “weigh up pros and cons” thing. I try to listen to myself and feel what would be best for me.
Do you think you’re on the right path?
Right now? I’m super happy. At the moment I feel like I’ve got it all: Travelling with friends, meeting people, the winter ski season is about to start, I’ve got a great job waiting in Switzerland, I have a new boyfriend who I’m really happy with and a super awesome family. I like to describe myself as chronically happy!
How do you feel when you think about your future?
(Confidently) Confident! Well, I can’t wait for it to come! I’m excited. I’m particularly happy cos it’s so different to how I’ve felt in the past year – I had a really crappy year.
What fascinates you about Switzerland?
The landscape. We’re at a high altitude here in Peru, but it seems pretty flat…whereas in Switzerland, when you’re in the mountains there is a lot of contrast between valleys and mountains.
It fascinates me how we’re able to communicated and connect to one another, not only with words, but mentally too. I guess that’s how you can really know someone.
It doesn’t fascinate me, but it makes me happy that I always seem to be able to pull through (with the help of my friends and family, of course). No matter how much it sucks…(laughs) and as we know, it’s only fun if it sucks!
What scares you about Switzerland?
(Looks confused) Ohhh, I feel pretty safe in Switzerland! I guess what scares me in Switzerland is heights – so I don’t go climbing or anything (laughs) not a lot of that going on for me!
Probably how for some people it’s so important to force or influence what others might do.
It bothers me rather than scares me that I don’t really have the guts to do things alone. Like, travelling…alone I don’t know if I’d do it. I’m a very group person, I’m not good at being alone.