It’s not often that somebody can say someone, or something, changed his/her life for the better. But I am one of the lucky ones, because it happened to me. And it is something that I want to share with you.
This story is about my life in Switzerland, at HTMi, Hotel and Tourism Management Institute that gave me a career in the hospitality & tourism industry. But let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
After I graduated college in Romania, I decided that a day-to-day desk job is not my thing. I want to actually make a difference, I want to meet new people, and see the world. It just so happens that I came across HTMi from talking with my mother. Apparently she met with someone whose son graduated from here, and originally she wanted to send my brother instead of me. Luckily, that did not happen because he did not want to choose this career path so I took his place.
Long story short I ended up here. It was January of 2009. To be honest I was really scared as I did not know what to expect; I did not know who my roommate would be, I did not know how the teachers would be, and basically I did not know anything.
The funny thing is that it only took me one week to accommodate with my surroundings, and with the people. I was so fortunate to make so many new friends in the first couple of weeks. Of course my first impulse was to join the Romanian group and hang out with them, which I did. But aside from that, it’s incredible how many things I got to learn from the other nationalities and cultures as well.
I am fortunate enough to say that I now have friends from India, China, Russia, Hungary, Hong Kong, South Korea, Latvia, Beirut and so many others. Every student is special in his/her own way. That’s what makes HTMi great. The diversity, the activities, and the way they guide us into our future careers.
Getting back to my story, first I graduated from the Post Graduate Course, but that was not enough. What followed were the MIT (Manager in Training) program and the MBA. But this did not stop me in getting involved in other activities as well. And that’s what I want to emphasize here; the opportunities are there, you just have to ask from time to time. You’d be surprised what the answer might be.
The classes that I attended reminded me of how important this industry is. And not necessarily for me, but for the people, in general. Now I got to see the hotel business from a different perspective. You know what the deal is now, you can relate, you can understand. I wasn’t too fond of F&B, but I learned to appreciate it in time, because of the patience the teachers had with me. It took me a while until I learned how to hold more than two plates on one hand. But the great thing is that you get to do this every day, you can practice, and you can test what you’ve learned in the amazing events that HTMi organizes.
I like to take pride in what I did here. We, and by “we” I mean the HTMi team (students and teachers) helped build the Swisstouches Café (the school coffee shop).
Then, we managed to rebuild the Alcatraz Club Lounge (students bar) from the ground up. If I were to give credit to the people that supported us 100% for this bar project, I would include Mr. Anthony Lack (Training and Events Manager), Mr. David Hailstones (Director of Operations), Mr. Daniel de Wolff, Yazan Sudki, Mohammed Fairoz and Rohan Thatte.
You know what’s incredible? That Mr. Hailstones and Mr. Lack had faith in us. We expressed our interest in improving the student experience. And that’s what we did. Gosh, I remember now those amazing nights in the bar spinning those CD’s. Those were the days. And last but not least, I would like to thank our school director, Mr. Ian Larmour.
I also had the opportunity to get involved in all the events, from planning, to organizing, to running them. And I have to tell you, the Graduation & Awards Ceremony was the one that had the most impact on me; because it taught me how important it is to get it right, how important it is to be punctual, and what it takes to speak in front of an audience. And that audience can be just about anyone…even if we’re talking about an event or your own staff.
Because of HTMi, I ended up completing two internships; one in the US, and one in China. But that’s another story for another day.
I guess at the end of the day, looking back at what I did, I still can’t believe it. The people that helped me will always have a special place in my heart. It’s all about interaction, communication and support. Mr. Anthony Lack will always be the person that believed in me from the start; who would ever think that I would have so much in common with a person from South Africa & Switzerland? He was the one that taught me so much, he was always there for me, he pushed me in doing great things, and he had faith in me. Mr. Lack, if you’re reading this, know that our friendship is what made me follow this career path, and I will always treasure it.
Mr. David Hailstones is the man that showed me how technology can be incorporated in education; starting from the websites, to Apple products, to how exactly students can benefit from this. And he is one of those people that will always listen to your ideas, no matter how ridiculous they might be. He will always find a way to make it work. His excitement about new technology should be an example for all of us.
Mr. Daniel de Wolff is the go-to-guy when it comes to any issue you might have. He has always been part of the team. It feels like he’s a student as well. Of course he has the experience we all wish we had, but he manages to channel that experience in order to make us understand it better. You’re the man Mr. D.
The student body was supportive as well (you know who you guys are).
Fast forward to April 2016. It’s been a year since Finding Romania Travel Agency opened. And I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to visit HTMi once again, see how everyone’s doing, what has changed. I was so excited to tell everyone about the agency. And even though I was there for just one day, I took full advantage of it. And let me tell you, Mr. Lack and Mr. Hailstones were so happy for me, for my accomplishments. And that means the world to me; receiving positive feedback from the people that know this industry better than anyone else out there.
There will be some other projects coming in the following months, and you, our dear readers and travelers will know about them as soon as I do.
In closing, there is one advice that I would give you: “Never stop believing. Always follow your dreams regardless of what others may tell you. Focus on what makes you happy, on what you’re good at.” It worked for me.