So lately I’ve noticed that my levels of happiness, sadness, and excitement have all been doing something like this:
That’s right, folks, they’ve been following a general upward trend and are currently at their peak levels.
So… what does this, like, mean, exactly?
Well I’ll tell ya.
It means that I’ve been here for long enough to master the train / metro / tram schedules (AKA I’m no longer embarrassed to run through the gare); to know how to eat lunch for under 7 CHF (thanks to Migros tabouli!); to learn to not eff up “la bise” when I meet new people (although barely); to feel comfortable yelling at my host siblings to stop talking while I’m stuck in a very tall tree (lol); … to feel like I’ve really taken root in this community.
It also means, though, that I’ve been here for long enough to have almost reached the end of this incredible adventure, and that I’ll soon have to say adieu to the stunning mountain-lined lake views; to eating my lunch at the Chateau de Nyon with my friends; to hearing Céleste call me her “Kiri en sucre,” or to Elias call me “Petit Patt” (neither of these really make sense, even for a fluent French-speaker, so don’t worry if you’re confused)… and it truly makes me so, so sad to think about.
What about the excitement that’s also rising tho?
Duh: I’m coming home soon! Home! Parents! Alexis! Dog! Friends! Adams Peanut Butter! Freedom to be impolite AF at the table! I am genuinely so looking forward to being back 🙂
So basically my POINT here is just to say that my current mental state is becoming increasingly saturated with some very strong and seemingly contradictory emotions which are leaving me feeling like this kid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsMLeqfX2y4
For now, though, I’m STILL HERE, and want to take full advantage of that. I’m sure I’ll write a post after I leave to honor the experiences I’ve had and the people I’ve come to know and love, but for now, how’s one more “what have I been up to lately?” post sound?
On y va !
The weekend after Nice started on a Thursday. A few friends and I decided to spend our day off in Rolle, a lakeside town in between Lausanne and Geneva. We laid on the beach, ate some pistachios, swam a little, and (most notably) got FRIED by the sun. We each got a stern talkin’ to from our host families upon coming back home that evening (apparently severe sunburns are seen as signs of being uneducated in Switz… ooops).
As if that wasn’t enough for that day, though, I ended up worsening my physical state when I leapt in the air and twisted my ankle while playing in the garden with Elias (it is still not back to normal and it’s been 3 weeks… should I be worried, or…?).
The next day I (BRAVELY) limped to the train and took a BlaBlaCar to nearby Annecy, France with Izzy, where I learned exactly where I want to vacation, raise my children, and retire. We spent the day walking (read: limping) through a beautiful outdoor food market, where we sampled enough cheese, saucisson, and macarons to warrant skipping lunch (not that that stopped us from purchasing and eating a massive hunk of gruyère, some truffle brie (!!!!!!!!!!!!!), an avocado, a tomato, an entire baguette, and 6 macarons tho!!).
After picnicking in the park, we rented a peddle boat (surprisingly okay for the ankle, thanks for asking!) and floated upon one of the most stunningly turquoise / clear / clean lakes I’ve ever seen.
Izzy and I spent the next day back in Switzerland with Anne, Elias, and Céleste. Together, we ate sushi beneath a Japanese Maple Tree in an arboretum looking over the constantly-visible, ever-impressive Swiss mountains.
It was one of those “is this even real life?” perfect sets of days.
One semi-boring-but-never-that-bad-because-I’m-in-good-company week at my internship later, I boarded a plane to head to Munich (or “München” as I, an experienced traveler, like to call it 😏) where I met up with ***fellow Whittie Lukas Koester!!!***
Munich was a beautiful, vibrant, and distinct city; seeing the 11 o’clock Glockenspiel show, partaking in various Springfest activities, and petting many small, expressive German dogs contributed to an excellent experience; however, by far the best part of it all was the family we stayed with while we were there. Lukas happens to have some family friends who are native to Munich; they were gracious enough to offer up a room in their apartment downtown.
However, this family did so much more than house us. They took it upon themselves to guide us through the city, provide us with expert beer and meal recommendations (MANY sausages, MANY pretzels, SO GOOD), take us to a very *ahem* “interesting” 90’s-themed club, and send us home with more souvenirs than I have ever owned in my life. This trip more than anything inspired me to want to pass forward this generosity when hosting visitors; it is truly what made the trip as special as it was.
The following weekend was the weekend of May 6th, AKA the weekend I had been looking forward to for months, AKA the weekend that I passed up going to Venice in order to stay in Switz AKA the GRUYÈRES CHEESE FESTIVAL !!!
Evan, Evan #2, and I spent the day sampling cheese, watching alpenhorn street performances, and (mostly) pinching ourselves to confirm that we weren’t in fact dreaming up the views that surrounded us. Gruyères was S T U N N I N G.
This was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to, and I am so happy I got to see it before leaving this country.
During all this time, my classmates and I had been working on our final projects of the semester: 20 page research papers on some topic related to the field of our internship institution. Naturally, my paper covered complementary currencies (see previous post about Monnaie Léman for clarification). I won’t go too far into the details, but essentially I discussed something called credit clearing systems and argued that this interest-free lending model (seen also in Islamic Banking, a very interesting subject that I encourage you to read up on!) has immense potential to contribute toward more equitable and more resilient banking and finance practices.
Although writing such a paper wouldn’t be at all too difficult to accomplish at Whitman, doing so here proved to be quite the challenge. When surrounded by so many beautiful sights, opportunities to travel at no cost (thank you SwissPass!), and amazing people, writing a paper does feel like a massive inconvenience. NONETHELESS I got it done, completed my presentation, and officially finished the semester a little under a week ago.
To finish off the semester, part of my group went to Lugano this past weekend. This mini-trip, too, was beautiful and filled with delicious food, midnight swims in the lake, and AirBnB dance parties. I’ll miss these kids.
Right now I have approximately 35 hours left in this country, and, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, it’s a pretty overwhelming feeling. I’ll go more into it in the next post, but, for now, all I can say is that I am so grateful to have had this experience. It has truly been life-changing.
And now: your fav part: your SWITZ MONEY-SAVING TIP!!!:
- STUDY ABROAD. So, like, this one might seem strange, considering studying abroad costs a hecka lotta moolah… however, you can’t forget about scholarships, aid, etc, of which there are many. More than scholarships, though, the thing that I feel made the biggest difference in cost was the expertly planned, highly efficient nature of the program. Having a host family, for example, allowed me to live in a beautiful home and enjoy home-cooked meals that I DEFINITELY could not have afforded otherwise (not to mention the potential to create a strong familial bond <3). Traveling to Greece was effortless; our apartments, museum tours, boat rides, hotel rooms, etc. etc. etc. were all organized and ready for us to use them. In Switzerland, being provided with SwissPasses (which allowed us to use any and all forms of public transportation, including bus, train, tram, metro, boat, in all of Switzerland without limit) made travel insanely easy. The time that I would have had to spend planning out a trip like this would honestly render it infeasible out of sheer inconvenience. I genuinely feel like studying abroad is an extremely effective way to get your money’s worth out of your travels. Not to mention, I just earned 16 university credits. How ’bout it? 🙂
Well folks, that’s it for today, but tune in later for my final post, in which I will attempt to scratch the surface of what this experience has meant to me and will inevitably fail dramatically. 🙂
Til next time!