Morgan Murphy '76

 

A Study Abroad

Morgan Murphy '76Less than a year out of Colby, Morgan Murphy ’76 was, by most definitions, on his way.

The economics major had a job at Standard & Poor’s in New York City, where he created synopses of major companies based on their annual and quarterly reports. He had a comfortable apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and was enjoying everything his hometown had to offer.

It wasn’t enough.

At Colby Murphy had contracted a penchant for travel, which he traces to his junior year abroad in Costa Rica. He spent a month in the community of La Virgen in the Sarapiqui region, and by the end of his stay he “got to know the little village really well.” The experience of becoming thoroughly acquainted with a specific place and facets of a foreign culture—instead of sightseeing—would become a deciding factor in the path Murphy’s life would take.

With recent hires allowed only two weeks of paid vacation a year, Murphy took an extended leave during the S&P reports department off- season, between November and February. He sub-let his apartment and set off on a trip that included Europe and North Africa. While visiting a friend of a Colby classmate in Switzerland—one of the few people Murphy could look up in Europe—something clicked. After returning to New York in February, “like I promised,” Murphy still felt the pull. Admitting that “New York sucks you in … it’s very hard to get out,” he wrenched himself away.

He quit his job and moved to Switzerland. He’s never looked back.

Murphy taught English, working as many hours as his student permit would allow and supplementing his income by doing translation work. “Switzerland is one of the few countries where you can live well working part time,”

Murphy said. He soon re-entered the world of finance and worked at several institutions before finally joining an insurance company. He lives with his wife, Anna, in Zug, south of Zurich, commuting to his job as a banking and financial specialist with insurance company Zurich Financial Services. His son Allan, 14, attends the Zug Gymnasium, an advanced high school for students planning to go on to university. Another son, Kevin, 20, is traveling.

Now Murphy speaks fluent Spanish, German, and Swiss, and he spends leisure time mountain biking, hiking, ski touring, and kite-boarding.

After 30 years abroad, Murphy now feels more Swiss and European than American. But
he maintains that all Americans—and not just those with an expatriate bent—should spend
time outside of their country in order to more fully understand that the United States is part
of a much larger world with diverse languages and cultures.

His advice for current students—or anyone for that matter—considering going abroad? “Do it.”

—James Violette ’11