Two weeks from today, I will begin the journey I have been anticipating for the past 10 months. Part of me is raring to go, ready to explore Europe and the lush green valleys and snowy mountains of Switzerland; the other part of me is terrified. I will be spending eight whole months in Lausanne without returning home to see my family (albeit they will be spending the Christmas holidays in Europe with me) and friends. I’m even going to miss boring old Malibu – obviously, this is some serious terror (I mean, who in her right mind misses Malibu?).
The process all started last September. The first week of my freshman year, the entire population of freshies was pulled onto Alumni Park to look at the colorful booths of Pepperdine’s 7 different study abroad programs: Buenos Aires, Florence, Heidelberg, Lausanne, London, and Shanghai. I’d already gone through Spanish for seven years back home in New Mexico, so that was a no. Heidelberg? German? What? Harsh consonants for days? Nein! London? I’m not much of a fish and chips fan. Shanghai? No way, José. That left Lausanne and Florence. It was a tough decision. I wanted to eat pasta and delicious carbs every single day till my pants busted, but I was also in love with the language of love and had wanted to learn it since I visited Paris during my senior year. Plus, its location was perfect for traveling, which is just what I wanted to do. Lausanne it was! So I applied. Interviewed for the program. Waited anxiously for October 28. Opened my mailbox. Euphoria in a big envelope.
The next process was obtaining a long stay student visa. I’ll spare you the details. But basically, the entire packet consisted of a cover letter, a letter of future plans, a flight itinerary, recent passport photos, visa application, copy of passport, proof of US residency, my confirmation letter from Pepperdine University Campus in Lausanne, my resume, any previous diplomas, an income statement, a bank statement, confirmation of payment of school tuition fees, and confirmation of departure. Not to mention about four copies of several of the contents. We were given a month window to complete the application and send it into the Swiss Consulate. And of course, being the responsible young lady I am, I sent it in on the last possible day. Not such a great idea. I’ll put that little pearl of wisdom in my pocket for next time!
The next process is packing. I’ve kind of thought about it. I’ve been limited to one big bag and half of a medium one, plus my backpack and an empty duffel bag for my return. So maximum of 75-80 pounds. For 8 months. I can do this! Especially considering that last year I over packed like crazy…this will be easy peasy lemon squeezy! And this process is reserved for this coming weekend, so wish me luck! I will most certainly need it.
The only problem? I hate the cold. You’d think that’s pretty normal for a New Mexican. Ha. It gets cold here in the wintertime. Winter has always been the most dreadful season of the year – that’s why I chose Pepperdine: the beach, warm weather year-round, sunshine and palm trees, studying on the beach in December while everybody back home is freezing their butts off. Well. Lausanne is about the same temperature as New Mexico in the winter. Only there’s snow. And lots of it. So this voyage should truly be one for the books. We’ll see if I get used to this flaky form of water and the low temperature. At least the views will be gorgeous.
Until next time,