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Survalienne Profile: Amalia (1995 - 1996)

Posted on: 1st January 2017

I came to Surval in 1996 because my mom is a former Survalienne of 1969. She has great memories, and I found great photographs of her time also! We spent today reminiscing about the similarities and differences of both experiences.

First, I´ll tell you my mom’s story:

My mom, Amalia Villarreal, knew she wanted to be a doctor since she was a kid. On family trips to the ranch and outdoors, she would “build her hospital”, where she treated wounded animals like birds and squirrels. After high school, my grandpa, one of the first radiologists in Monterrey, asked her daughter what she wanted to study, she did not hesitate to say: ‘a doctor just like you’. Foreseeing how difficult and absorbing medical school can be, especially for a young lady, he offered her a year studying languages, which my mom loved.

She had amazing times in Surval, learning French, Italian, German, and practising with her new friends from all over the world. She remembers her friends from different backgrounds, enriching conversations and fun trips to Yugoslavia, Greece, Russia, and around Europe. Some of the countries she visited don’t even exist anymore! She became a very good skier, and remembers skiing every morning during winter season and having her language courses during the afternoon at Crans-Sur-Sierre.

During this year, her view of the world changed, she became more open to all cultures and passionate about helping others. When she came back, she was even more excited about becoming a medical doctor to be able to impact positively in the world. She graduated with honours, receiving a medal for the best medical student of her university in Mexico from the president of Mexico at that time. She knows Surval changed her life, made her more responsible, aware and brought her many great friends. She remembers M. Sidler with great appreciation and respect. (This brings tears to her eyes).

Inspired by my mom, I began studying French at the age of 11, with the dream of going to the same school my mom had, Surval.

The day came when I got on an Air Swiss plane and headed to my dream. I remember arriving several days before and meeting Jessica Arreola and her mom. They invited me to travel before school started. Those acts of kindness stay with you forever, and she has remained my friend. Then came my roommate, Sofia Lopez. She became my sister, and we remain sisters to this day. “The Lopez’s Sisters room” became the meeting place, having 10 girls over at the same time. That was so much fun! We listened to music, dyed our hair, had spa nights with face masks and had loooooong girl talks at night.

All this fun also got us into trouble! I am sorry for the patient madams always having to come to the room and get us into bed at time. We also had the privilege of knowing M. Sidler and Mme. Furrer. They were great inspiration for us and a source of good discipline and knowledge. During the day we had French classes, Art classes, Etiquette and Aerobics. I remember singing a song for relaxation time after Aerobics class. Everything was so spontaneous and we really felt at home.

We soon became close friends, all of us, so different, from different backgrounds and countries: Saudi Arabia, Japan, India, France, Switzerland, Mexico, Venezuela, the sweet Russian girls, but all of us having friendship and acceptance as a priority. We had wonderful travels together, I even celebrated my birthday in Lugano, and visited Isola Bella, one of the most beautiful places I have been to. We went to Cannes and London, building memories that we hold dear, and which have kept us friends till this day. Sofia, Lissa, Mariana, Orianna, Rocio, Elialu, Jessica, Gaby, Gela, Martha, Lydia, Ivanna, Noora, Lora, Sveltana, Helena, Anne, Kate, Yelena, Nitasha, Petra, Desiree, Tsunemi, all unforgettable friends. I loved my Arts Programme. We had a great teacher who took us to Bern to see a Marc Chagall exhibition. I remember how inspiring that was. It was during my stay at Surval, studying arts, when I became certain about pursuing a creative career. When you are 16, you cannot yet foresee how important and inspiring a unique school like Surval will change your life.


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