We both started the IM degree in 2001 – it was only the one class then so we all knew each other well and four of us especially formed a very close-knit group. So a friendship between Richard and myself had already been well established before we went on our semester abroad.
Back then allocation of your host university was by drawing lots from a hat. Nearly all of us wanted to go to Auckland as our first choice but there were only a few places there. So we drew lots again for our second choice: Ajou University in South Korea. About half the class had decided that we wanted to do something adventurous – and South Korea seemed pretty different. In the end, there were 8 of us who went to Ajou and there, within the first month or so, Richard and I became a couple.
The other six in Korea were not at all surprised – they’d seen it coming – and so there was no awkwardness. But those two close friends in our group were not there and we puzzled greatly about how to tell them. Don’t forget, in those days we didn’t all have smart phones, there was no Whatsapp. We didn’t want to wait until we saw them again months later, so we mailed. That did feel a bit weird. However, being a couple within the IM class was not a problem. There were quite a few others who had also met a partner during their semester abroad.
What happened next? Nicole: I went on to work for PwC consulting expat clients in international HR. Richard and I got married in 2010 and then in 2012 our twin girls were born. I decided I wanted to be at home for at least a year so stopped my job. Eighteen months later I then found the perfect post for me – I am the Assistant for the IM programme. It’s part-time, interesting and close to where we live and of course it was a bit like returning “home”. I very much enjoy being in touch with a great variety of people – I liaise with lecturers, especially external lecturers, coordinating resources, planning. It’s perfect.
Richard: I joined what is now the Bank J. Safra Sarasin immediately after graduating and have been there in different roles and different teams ever since. My current position is Senior Portfolio Manager for institutional clients based in Zurich. What I enjoy since the merger is that the bank has become more international and our working language is English now.
Via the IM Programme many students have learnt a lot about business, made new friends, found future employers, expanded their horizons and also, more often than you think, found their partners. After nearly 20 years since the programme started there are a surprising number of IM couples and even IM babies 🙂
So – here’s a slightly different #TbT item. Also, so that we can tell all you IM lovebirds out there that we’re having a Love@IM barbeque from noon on 9 September at a site around Olten (we’ll communicate the place soon). It’s for all who found love via or during their IM days and for any and all resultant kids:-) So save the date and sign up now!