cafébabel: Normally this is a simple question, but for you it's quite complicated - where do you come from?
The big question! I was born in Geneva - my father is Dutch, my mother is from the French and Italian parts of Switzerland. When I was very young I moved to the German part, which is where I spent most of my life, even though I went to an English speaking school. And when I was 18 I moved to Amsterdam. But I'm Swiss-Dutch. At least that's what my passport says!
cafébabel: What made you want to be a journalist?
I think I always had a fascination with it. But the eureka moment was when I did an internship in Montréal doing translations for a travel agency. I was 16 at the time, and I knew I wanted to go study journalism somewhere. A lady at the office knew someone who worked at one of the big newspapers in Montréal and offered to show me around. So we showed up in the offices in this really tall building (which isn't common in Switzerland) and she took me to the archive room and gave me a satirical magazine making fun of women's glossies. The front cover of an image had a girl without any ears and said this was the "new hype" - surgically removing your ears to look prettier. I thought that was so intelligent. And that was when I realised that there was a power in journalism that goes beyond just delivering news.
cafébabel: How'd you come to Paris?
I wanted to live in a French-speaking city for a long time, and I had a very romanticised image in my head of being a starving artist in Paris. I found this really great journalism masters here and applied for it. I didn't get in, but I just decided to move anyway because I wanted to be in a city with more grit and personality. After 5 years in Amsterdam it becomes quite small, and Paris seemed huge to me.
cafébabel: How do you like it so far?
I always tell people: " I love Paris, it's great, it smells of pee - it's perfect!" People start laughing and say "that sounds awful," but to me it's I find the fact that it's so unorganised and chaotic quite endearing. My whole life I grew up in Switzerland where everything is organised and very clean, but it's a monoculture. It's scary to travel and realise "Wow, I really grew up in a bubble." Paris is the antithesis of my childhood.
cafébabel: What do you have in common with cafébabel?
Lara: I like the alternative approach to journalism - the fact that it's participatory - and I think that journalism can be something for everybody as long as you have the means to express yourself. I value that a lot, the ability to open it up to the world. And also the fact that everyone here has crazy stories and nobody knows where they really belong!
cafébabel: What's your craziest story?
I went travelling in South America with my boyfriend at the time, and we were going to take a three-day ferry up the Amazon, but he got extremely ill. But after the first night we didn't leave. I asked the captain and he told us "tomorrow, tomorrow," and we ended up spending two nights on a ferry that didn't move, with my boyfriend suffering and puking. He also got hit on by the chef of the boat, who was a drag queen. She offered him a piece of gum after he threw up, and then offered him a blow job!
cafébabel: Where would we find you on a Friday night?
It's a boring answer, but most likely having drinks with friends... Pretty standard.
cafébabel: What book is on your bedside table right now?
Lara: I have a mezzanine bed, so I'd need a really high table! I'm reading a book by Irvin D. Yalom called When Nietzsche Wept. It's basically about his relationship with psychotherapy. It's half-fiction and half non-fiction, and a bit chaotic at times, like Nietzsche's mind.
cafébabel: What's your favourite movie of all time?
It would have to be Kill Bill: Volume 2, but both parts are amazing.
cafébabel: What are you hoping to get out of your two months here?
It is a short time, isn't it? What I'm really hoping to get is experience in a magazine and to be around people who are open and willing to help each other out with new ideas. I want to be published, and learn more about the role of an editor in a magazine.
cafébabel: What are you working on right now?
I'm working with my friend Nathaniel, who's a photojournalist, on a piece about burial sites in and around Calais. We just spent a weekend there meeting some really interesting people, particularly one man who owns a funeral parlour there and his role in burying refugees. It's really important to know what will get left behind once the Jungle has been completely abandoned and how we'll remember this refugee crisis as a European community.