‘I come from an ultra-orthodox background and I had to start life by myself quite early, at the age of 16 with no support from my family.’ Jasmine Decker, tells us as she sits down with The Atlantic Dispatch. ‘Ever since I was a kid I knew that I was passionate about travelling. I remember running “until the horizon” because I was always curious to discover what sights awaited me, what would I learn and who would I meet.’
Travel, exploration and adventure were only something Jasmine could dream about as a child. Growing up in a strict home in Israel, she never had the opportunity to do so many of the things we take for granted, even her friends were chosen for her. So, she began to look elsewhere for solitude and would spend her days secretly visiting her local library, exploring the world through the books she read, vorousicily consuming as many of them as possible, and dreaming that one day life may be like the tales she loved so much.
When the time came to move out and live by herself, Jasmine had to work two jobs to pay for her studies and keep a roof over her head. To put things in perspective, the minimum wage in Israel at the time was 3500 NIS, while renting a room in a shared apartment was around 2500. The cost of groceries and other necessities meant she had no other option but to always have a second job. Sometimes even a third. However, the taxes on a second income were so brutal, that it didn’t leave her with much. ‘It was only when I decided that I had finally had enough and I needed to start somewhere new and took the crazy move to come to Switzerland that I could finally keep my head above water and be able to explore and live.’
It takes a lot to be brave and courageous. Jasmine Decker has both in abundance. To make and create a completely new life is hard at the best of times. To do it in an unfamiliar country where you can’t speak the language is something that I couldn’t even fathom. But it’s a challenge that Jasmine met full on and has excelled at. Her fierce determination and work ethic have led her towards a career as a successful digital creator, where she shares the best of Switzerland: looking at fabulous mountain getaways to city trips, the best restaurants, must-see villages and the incredible culture and history of an insanely beautiful country. Her captivating work has not gone unnoticed and caught the eye of Switzerland Explores, who named Jasmine as an ambassador.
Switzerland is a country that was born for the camera lens. It has all the sultry and seductive qualities of a movie star. In fact, I recall overhearing a conversation once upon a time ago in Bern, where a local was trying to explain to a curious and inquisitive tourist why Switzerland is famed for its neutrality. The local turned to the tourist and said, “Look at our country. Look at how beautiful it is. Do you think we want anybody coming in and ruining it?’ He’s not wrong. Switzerland is a land so spectacular that it looks like it’s been painted by all the world’s famed artists. It is a beautiful canvas, and Jasmine’s work brings it to life and allows others to see how enchanting a country it is.
EVERY LITTLE THING EXCITES ME
I love learning new things and exploring. I’m also fascinated by cultures and learning languages. Of course, many things were very new to me coming from a strict background, so I had a lot of “first times” even simple ones: my first time going to a mall by myself, my first time going to the cinema, my first time talking to a guy – these may sound very simple but it’s not trivial for everyone. I guess that in a way, I should be grateful for the way I grew up because it made me look at the world through a child’s eye, every little thing excites me and I’m super happy to discover, learn, explore and get to know people.
When I moved to Switzerland things didn’t go as smoothly in the beginning. I entered an unhealthy relationship where I was constantly mistreated and made to feel small. I was though super lucky to find a job within a month after moving here, but I had co-workers who used me as the person to blame, and not speaking the language I couldn’t defend myself very well. On the plus side, It made me extremely motivated to speak the language and therefore I speak Swiss German quite fluently.
I started my Instagram account as a “diary” to post about places I travelled to and things I’ve done and slowly I had a small community that made me feel welcomed. The more I posted, the more I realised how much I love filming, capturing beautiful places and delicious foods – I kept trying to transfer my excitement through the lens. Last year in April I decided to take my passion seriously and treat it like a job, I started posting every day and slowly but steadily my account started growing, and Switzerland Explores contacted me and I became an ambassador for their account! I couldn’t be happier! I still have a lot to learn and improve, but when I see the difference between my content today and what I made last year I cringe. I’m happy though because it proves that there is progress.
IT’S THE FIRST PLACE THAT FELT LIKE HOME
I think for me Switzerland is so special because it’s the first place where I felt at home. Switzerland is freedom and epic sights, welcoming mountains, breathtaking lakes, fun traditions, endless explorations and adorable animals wandering in nature. I feel like you can live here your entire life and keep discovering things and no matter how many times you come back to some places there will always be something new that makes your heart skip a beat. Switzerland is also a hiking paradise but you can combine it with city travel, little towns and well-preserved villages – so there is truly everything for everybody. It’s hard for me to choose a favourite city, town or village, as every place that I’ve been to so far, has its own unique charm.
I would say the Canton of Nidwalden is Switzerland’s hidden gem though. It’s a small breathtaking canton here on the shore of Lake Lucerne. It’s not very well known, quite traditional and mostly explored by locals. There are breathtaking hikes to do there and stunning mountains such as Stanserhorn and Bouchserhorn. The Lakeshore in Bouchs is magical and there is even a small camping area in front of it.
IT’S LIKE SOMETHING STRAIGHT OUT OF THE MOVIES
For anybody who has never visited Switzerland, I would definitely recommend visiting the area of Interlaken. This region is usually what people imagine Switzerland to be like. There are endless mountain getaways with jaw-dropping sights, and incredibly stunning villages like Lauterbrunnen, Mürren, Wengen, Spiez and Brienz. In warm weather you can enjoy swimming by the lakes (Lake Thun and Lake Brienz)- there are also boat rides between the lakes! You can go hiking, or take panoramic cable cars or trains. There are 72 waterfalls in the Lauterbrunnen Valley and plenty of outdoor activities so no matter the duration of your visit you will enjoy it to the fullest!
If you stay longer don’t miss the incredible Lake Oeschinensee with its striking blue colour. A visit to the adorable alpine town Lucerne with two nearby mountain getaways to the Pilatus and the queen of the mountains, Rigi. The iconic Matterhorn with the charming village: of Zermatt is also recommended. The list can get longer with the colourful Italian-speaking canton of Switzerland, Ticino – where you can enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the lake, magical mountains and palm trees! Another must is Lake Geneva – Montreux’s lake promenade is magical and you can see the French Alps on the other side of the lake. There you can find the castle of Chillon – which is the most visited historical monument in Switzerland. The UNESCO wine terraces of the Lavaux region are an excellent place for wine tourism and the views are dreamy.
The medieval village of Gruyères, is like something straight out of a movie. When in the area you should definitely try some Swiss fondue (I’d probably say that about every place in Switzerland but Gruyères is located in the canton of Fribourg which is the Fondue Capital, hence it’s even more of a must), visit the castle, the unique HR Giger Cafe and nearby you can find the chocolate factory Cailler which is the oldest chocolate factory in Switzerland and can be visited for a delicious experience. Then of course for city lovers, there is Zurich, Bern and Geneva, which can keep you busy for days or even months. The list can go on and on.
“Switzerland is freedom and epic sights, welcoming mountains, breathtaking lakes, fun traditions, endless explorations and adorable animals wandering in nature. I feel like you can live here your entire life and keep discovering things.”— Jasmine Decker
IF THIS IS YOUR PASSION YOU GET TO DO WHAT YOU LOVE
Being a digital creator is amazing because you get to do what you love, manage your own time, travel and choose whom to work with. You get to inspire people, and your community becomes part of your journey, which creates a warm place that makes me super excited to start my day. I couldn’t be happier when Switzerland Explores contacted me. It showed me that I was right to try and follow my dreams and it gave me a stage to be seen.
That being said, it’s not all a pink picture as some people imagine. First, because it’s very difficult to draw the line – I didn’t take a single day off since last April and I was close to burnout in December trying to cover as many Christmas markets as I could. This meant around 2-3 hours each way from Geneva to my destination, filming, and sorting the footage on the train back home. And then getting home doesn’t mean it’s chill time – It’s time to edit, and post it the next day.
In between, you need to be creative in order to find plenty of new ideas and showcase new places, pitch businesses, reply to emails, keep up with DMs and keep guessing because there are no rules and you need to learn everything from scratch including how to offer your services, what is your worth, how much do you charge, what will you do for free and what not, how to answer preposterous offers, what do you do when someplace invites you and you agreed to create a post but when you arrived there you discover that the place is not something you’d recommend to your followers.
But at the end of the day, if this is your passion you get to do what you love, be creative, explore and express yourself. Sure, I hope that I will learn a better work schedule, but everything in life is about learning, and every new job can have a rocky start, but as long as it challenges you to get better and you enjoy what you do- you’ll make it happen. So I’m excited to see how things will evolve.
GENEVA AND I IS A LOVE STORY
Geneva and I is a love story. The first time I visited Geneva was in 2018. My first thoughts were “Oh the old town is a bit grey.” Geneva is a protestant Canton and if you compare it to Lucerne (which is Catholic), with its colourful facades, paintings and decorations – it strikes out.
But it was a summer day and I walked to the lake and to my surprise I found a party there on the beach (Now that I know Geneva better I could bet that it was organised by the city itself), people were dancing, the mood was in the sky, walking a bit further I found many people relaxing on the welcoming terraces and every person I talked to was so friendly and welcoming. I discovered that the people in Geneva love to live life, relax and enjoy.
If you come to Geneva, some of the things to do are to explore the old town. I recommend taking the Free Walking Tour- You’ll learn a lot while discovering the city and its unique features like the longest wooden bench in Europe, the old arsenal or the lady that saved the city with a pot of soup. In the old town, you can climb to the top of the cathedral and enjoy a fantastic view of the city, the lake and the mountains.
Don’t skip the iconic 140m fountain: The famous Jet d’Eau. The colourful gem: Crouge with its colourful houses and Italian vibe. A cruise on the lake is also a must, Plus, most of the permanent exhibitions in Geneva’s museums are free and you can take a look inside Maison Tavel – the oldest private house in Geneva.
There is a cool way of transport from one side of the lake to the other they are called: The Mouettes. Those are super cute yellow and red boats that you can take as a part of the public transport and enjoy amazing lake views while on it.
If you come in summer you can enjoy swimming by the lake or by the Rhone River – where people usually go down by inflatable boats and let the river carry them away and then come back by bus. You can also visit Jonction which is the point where the 2 rivers in Geneva meet (the Rhone and the Arve) If you come in mid-December there is a wild traditional event called Escalade and the city turns into a medieval festival and celebration.
Geneva is also an amazing place for foodies! There are many mind-blowing delicious patisseries such as Patisserie Sofia and Parisserie. The local’s favourite place for fondue is Bains des Pâquis but if you are looking for a restaurant experience, then Les Armures is also nice. Another must is to do a chocolate tour around the exceptional artisan chocolatier shops in Geneva, you can either do it with the ChocoPass (a self-guided tour) or by yourself. If you like wine, there are fantastic wine bars such as UVA Genève and La Tenuta.
Thank you very much to the wonderful Jasmine Decker for her time.