Interview with a Hotel Institute Montreux Student
Coming from a small town in western Norway and with not much previous experience in hospitality, Kristin was a bit worried about fitting in at the prestigious Hotel Institute Montreux. Now that she has started her studies there, Kristin says that the university welcomes people with all types of personalities and cultural and professional backgrounds. Although one thing all students certainly have in common – is a strong passion for hospitality.
In this interview, the hospitality student from Norway talks about the masterclasses, amazing teachers, day trips to Italy and France, mesmerizing landscapes of Switzerland, and other perks of studying at the Hotel Institute Montreux.
Hi Kristin! Moving to a foreign country all by yourself is often quite challenging. How was the transition for you?
Moving from Norway to Switzerland was quite a big step for me. Before coming to the Hotel Institute Montreux (HIM) I didn’t really know what to expect. I love to travel, but I have never moved to another country.
I come from the western part of Norway where my family owns a farm and they run a campsite during the tourist seasons. I was a bit afraid that my background would clash with the other students and that I wouldn’t fit in, since I didn’t come from money or the same hospitality background I thought a lot of the other students might have.
But once I arrived in Switzerland and got to meet my coursemates, I realized that neither money, age nor background really mattered. We all shared the same passion for hospitality.
What is it like studying at such a culturally-diverse school?
Attending a school with so many different cultures can sometimes be troublesome. You really start to notice different understandings of humor, diverse ways of communicating, and much more.
Most of the students, however, are so open to learning about those differences that it becomes an opportunity to discover new places, and new cultures, and more rather than an obstacle to developing friendships.
How would you compare Norway to Switzerland?
In many ways, I find Switzerland and Norway to be quite similar – nature, climate, prices, and how people behave are very similar. One noticeable difference, though, is that, at least in Montreux, people tend to showcase their wealth, with luxurious cars and clothing.
What does the school do well to help the students gain the right skills?
The learning process at HIM is one of the major reasons I chose HIM. We are given almost the equal amount of in-class learning as the hands-on practice opportunities, with internships and food service in the school’s eating area, Gate 85.
Here you build your knowledge ground up. Starting in the first term you learn about how the hospitality industry operates and how to succeed in your studies as a student. The following terms then gradually get more advanced in a way. This way you really learn the tools to one day operate a hotel of your own, but also how to operate any business in general.
What makes HIM stand out from the other schools?
I think it has a very modern approach to learning. For example, there are no physical school books. Instead, the students are provided with iPads as a tool to access all the necessary learning material. They use a website called Moodle, where you find the different subjects, learning sources, and other useful information.
HIM also offers Masterclasses, classes that are not in the curriculum but can be interesting to learn about. It includes various masterclasses to learn about alcoholic beverages (whiskey, tequila, cocktails, and much more), food art (pasta, chocolate, pizza, and much more) masterclasses, watches, and stocks. These are not obligatory and anyone can join as long as there is space. This is a perfect possibility to develop your interests and learn from people passionate about their subject.
What are the relationships with the teachers like?
For me personally, the teachers have had a huge impact on me. I’ve only met supportive, understanding, and kind teachers so far. They care a lot about the students well being and try their best to help where they have a possibility to do so.
I have some learning disabilities and the efforts the teachers have done to help me have blown my mind. I feel really taken care of. They assured me that no question was stupid and I’m never afraid to ask teachers for help.
How do you spend your free time while studying in Montreux?
Studying in Montreux gives so many possibilities to explore the neighboring countries and regions. France and Italy are just a train ride away. Switzerland is one of the countries in the center of Europe which makes it super easy to arrange a weekend away to many beautiful destinations.
Montreux is also great for having a fun time. Mountain hiking, walking by the water, testing out the many restaurants close by, and going to the cinema are just a few examples of what I like to do here.
There is also a gym close to the school that is free for the students to use. I usually go to yoga class there, which helps my body and mind to relax after a long week of studying. The school also offers a lot of sports activities, such as football, basketball, tennis and more. If you want to test something new, the school is more than happy to help.
Why is a career in luxury hospitality appealing to you?
For me, it was more about all the opportunities the education offers. Studying luxury hospitality provides huge possibilities, not only in the hospitality industry but in almost any other industry, too. You learn about all the sides of the hospitality business and this knowledge can be applied in many other businesses, too.
How did you learn about the fact that Lånekassen accepts applications from HIM students?
I first found out about HIM through an education convention in Bergen while talking to the representative of the school.
What is the Lånekassen application process like?
The application process was long but quite easy. Lånekassen helps a lot and I even called them to make sure what documents to send and what information was needed from me. It takes some time to get the application through, but I have not bumped into any problems.
The hospitality business is often more associated with extraverted people. Does HIM accommodate different sorts of personalities well?
I have met all sorts of people at HIM– people coming from extensive hospitality backgrounds, people that have never experienced the hospitality industry, people coming from money, and people living by the support of companies such as Lånekassen.
I’ve met both introverted and extroverted people, people that are naturally hospitable, and even students you could never imagine working with people! Chances are you are going to meet somebody like you here, regardless of what personality you have.
With that said, being more outspoken increases your chances of being included and invited to social gatherings. Coming from a person on the more introverted side of the scale, my recommendation would be to invite yourself to activities and say yes more often when people invite you.
Thank you Kristin for such an honest and insightful conversation! Best of luck to you!