Wednesday, September 19, 2012

September 19, 2012: Crazy Little Thing Called Love

Swiss Cheese! Swiss Knives! Swiss Chocolate! Swiss Everything!

I am excited. I love this country. And just a few days ago, I only loved Lausanne. So let’s rewind a little bit here and answer some questions. Interview time!

Q: What caused such a jump from loving just the city to the whole country?

A: You see, dear readers, I traveled to Interlaken this weekend. It was a total spur-of-the-moment voyage. On Friday night, my friend, Madison, asked me what I was doing this weekend. I was planning on going to Lugano with some other students, but ticket prices were more than we expected. So, we were out of plans. Madison kindly asked Kyle and me to join her and two other girls in Interlaken. Almost everyone else was traveling there for the weekend; I figured, what the heck? It’s better than not seeing the country! and accepted her invitation. We left the house at 9:20 on Saturday to catch a 9:45 train to Bern (we literally bought our tickets and boarded the train just before it took off!), switched trains, and stopped at Interlaken Ost. Once there, we got off the train; walked around a bit; got lunch and ate it in a field of lush, green grass; and walked the main street, looking in the tourist-y shops and taking pictures with the plastic cow sculptures. We then ran into two other Pepp Lausanne students and walked around with them for a while before we decided to take a tram to the top of Harder Klum, where we could see the two lakes on either side of Interlaken and the city itself. 

(The view of one of the lakes surrounding Interlaken. The picture doesn't even do it justice - the water was so gorgeous and bright!)

After taking pictures and sitting at the restaurant for a good while, we headed back down to get dinner and leave for home. Even though we hadn’t done too much, we were still wiped when we got back to the house.

Sunday morning, we woke up to go to Geneva. Brady Smith picked seven of us (Dr. Iga, Andrew, Kyle, Kristin, Jordan, Alexa, and me) up from the house and we drove an hour to the Church of Christ in Geneva. After the service, which a member of the church kindly translated for us), we headed over to the de Plantas’ house, which had a killer view of the lake. There, we got into their patio pool and then ate a nice lunch on their patio while conversing about different places in Europe, where we should visit while abroad, and the history of the de Planta house.

(Alexa and I being awkward together post-swimming)

Then, we visited the Martin Bodmer Library and Museum, which houses documents of literature, such as the first known copy of the book of John, the Gutenberg Bible, Homer’s Iliad, Vergil’s Aeneid, Frederick Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, among countless others. It was amazing. When I saw the Iliad, I knew my sister would be extremely jealous when I told her about it. She was. Mission accomplished. (Maybe we’ll visit it when my family comes out for Christmas! They just booked their flights!) After spending some quality time admiring the texts, we went back to the da Planta house to eat a delicious dessert, then down to the lake to take a ride on their boat to the Jet D'eau and over to the other shore of Lake Geneva.

(Jet D'eau in the Geneva Lake - isn't it gorgeous? It sprays 130 meters into the air!)

(Our group - minus Dr. Iga, who went back to the house early. From left: Jordan, Kyle, Andrew, Alexa, me, Kristin with the Jet D'eau behind us.)

From there, we left with Mrs. Smith to return to the Pepperdine house. The rest of the day was uneventful: went to the park to get a little reading done, then returned home to make some delicious rice for dinner (when I say delicious, I really mean bland, since I didn’t feel like going out to the store for more appetizing food…what can I say? I’m a poor college student!) before going upstairs to work on my blog and post pictures from my weekend travels on Facebook.

Q: So…what makes you love the country of Switzerland?

A: Traveling across Switzerland and seeing all of the gorgeous, green rolling hills; moo cows; gorgeous mountains; and clear lakes was indescribable. I love nature, and the combination of all the scenery definitely played a huge factor in making my love grow. Plus, all of the traffic signs are just so darn adorable!!!!! Really. I’m starting a photograph series of traffic signs I find throughout Switzerland and the rest of Europe.

After spending this weekend in different parts of the country, I am so excited to embark on journeys to faraway lands and observe the different traditions and sceneries there!

Your Friend,


P.S. Sorry this is a few days late - piles and piles of reading homework and sickness has been killing me this week :( But here's a happy picture of me pre-sickness to show just how happy I am! J'aime la Suisse!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

September 12, 2012: The Passing of Time

Has it already been a week?!

I’m already in love with the city! Even though I’m not used to city life and the loudness at night, it’s still amazing! I love all of the colored shutters and the graffiti around town, not to mention the various parks and the gorgeous views. 

(I'm obsessed with The Pink Panther, so I had to get a picture with the graffiti)

And though the hills are brutal, I don’t feel like I need to work out as much, hehe. It still hasn’t hit me that I’m in Switzerland, either! They’ve had us so busy during this past week. So here’s a brief recap (with a little bit of French!):

Thursday, September 6 (jeudi, le six de septembre): Filled our info for our biometric cards, then went to Old Lausanne to visit the cathedral and meander around.

Friday, September 7 (vendredi, le sept de septembre): Started our French intensive program (we don’t start classes until tomorrow, so they wanted to refresh our memories of the French language). After lunch and a research methods presentation by Professor Gorton, we took a nice walk around town to a huge park about a mile away from the house, which had the coolest playground I’ve ever seen. No lie. I’m not even a kid anymore and I was stoked out of my mind! We walked about a mile through the park (yeah, it’s that big) to Lake Geneva, then walked back uphill to the house. After having a while to relax, we ate dinner at Holy Cow, a burger joint close to campus – and I thought I wasn’t going to be able to eat burgers here!

Saturday, September 8 (samedi, le huit de septembre): Went to Chexbres Village, which houses miles upon miles of vineyards and beautifully quaint houses along the coast of gorgeous Lake Geneva. It was serioualy one of the most stunning landscapes I’ve ever seen: rows and rows of grape vines with the turquoise Lake Geneva and the French Alps in the background.

(My new goal is to live here...vineyarding is definitely the life for me!) 

(Okay. A diving board on Lake Geneva? Heaven! I must go!)

We then took a train to Vevey, close to the French border, and were essentially dropped off there by our directors – aka we were able to explore town, but we had to fend for ourselves and find our way back to Lausanne. My group and I stopped for some ice cream before heading down to the lake for a good while. We were planning on getting dinner before leaving, but the restaurant our director suggested we eat at was closed, so we came back early and ate at the house instead. A few hours later, I went out dancing with quite a few other Pepperdine students, which was a riot!

Sunday, September 9 (dimanche, le neuf de septembre): Free day! So I took advantage of the lack of morning plans and slept in. Then, I went to the lake with my roommate and five other girls. It had been my goal to swim in Lake Geneva, so albeit the water was frigid, I dove right in and swam out to the buoys with Alexa (my roommate). A few other people came soon thereafter and left to swim at the beach club close to where we were tanning, so Alexa and I decided to tag along with them. The club had lots of grass; sand volleyball courts; a diving well complete with springboards and a platform; a pool; a section of the lake; and a set of too-cool-for-school inflatables, such as trampolines, a see-saw-like rocker, a globe with handles to climb. It was fun. But then Alexa and I had to head back to the house so we could go to church with the Smiths, a nice family that is affiliated with the church. The service was in French, so I pretty much had no idea what the sermon was about (Mr. Smith translated the major points, though), and service was held in the Smiths’ house, so it was a nice and comfortable setting. After service, we ate dinner with them and chatted about Europe and travels. Then, we came home and went to house church in the common area.

Monday, September 10 (lundi, le dix de septembre): Went to French intensive, then to convocation. After lunch, some people from the train station came in to talk to us about Swiss passes for the trains, buses, and boats around the country. Then we headed over to the train station to purchase passes. Dinner was a few hours later, and after I ate, I went on a run to the huge park we went to on Friday.

Tuesday, September 11 (mardi, le onze de septembre): Left the house at 8:15 to go to Geneva for the day. When we first got there, we split into two groups – one went to a museum about the Protestant Reformation, while the other group walked around with Professor Gorton, who talked about some of the historical places around the city. Then we switched. We then ate lunch by the reformation wall, and headed over to the UN.

Being able to tour the building was amazing, especially since the UN is such an important international coalition. The most striking room was the human rights conference room, which has stalactite-like structures on the ceiling, painted with various bright colors. The significance of the ceiling is that you can’t just look at it from one vantage point, because there are infinite ways to view the ceiling. This represents the views of people worldwide: there are infinite ways to look at a situation, and infinite perspectives being represented within the UN conference rooms and building. After our tour, we came back to the Pepperdine house. Dinner was at a Mexican restaurant, but I didn’t even consider going. Swiss Mexican food? Umm…no thanks. So I went to the grocery store and bought some rice, lettuce, and veggies for a homemade rice bowl and salad – my first self-cooked meal of this year!

Today, Wednesday, September 12 (aujourd’hui, mercredi, le douze de septembre): Had intensive French again this morning, then had the rest of the day off, except for a worship team meeting and practice. Since then, I’ve just been hanging out inside, since it’s cold and rainy here. But at least we can finally see the entirety of the Alps!

(Yay! Finally, a clear view of the Alps!)

Tomorrow we start classes…and I have three. So y’all should probably say a prayer for me, since it’s been four and a half months since I’ve done any academic work. Oops. But at least we only have class tomorrow and Friday (even though we have Fridays off, we’re having class Friday to make up for Monday, since that’s a national holiday – Jeûne Fédéral to be exact – and we won’t have class). This weekend is Switzerland travel weekend, so I believe I’m traveling to Lucern for a day trip Saturday, going back to Geneva with the Smiths on Sunday to see some old scripts from the Bible and attend a church there. Monday? Switzerland is my oyster! Well, it’s time for me to bid adieu so I can take a nap or something before dinner!

Au revoir!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September 5, 2012: Wait…What Time is it Really?


I’ve been awake for the past 34 hours, save for about five or ten minutes on the second plane here. Needless to say, I am beyond exhausted. Yesterday morning (it doesn’t even seem like it was yesterday!), I woke up at the beautiful hour of 2:50 AM to make it to shower and make it to LAX by 3:45. Then, we left for Jersey at 7:03, had a two-hour layover in Newark, and headed out at 5:50 to Geneva on a nine-hour flight. On our five-hour flight to Newark, I decided not to let myself fall asleep, because I wanted to be able to sleep as much as possible on the flight to Geneva, despite driving thirteen hours to LA the day before and only getting about two to three hours of sleep. Well. That did not go as planned. Even though I was exhausted, I just couldn’t sleep. And once I did, the captain announced that we were going into turbulence, and so I woke up. Let’s just say I feel sorry for the rest of the people on the plane: I went into a crazed frenzy, laughing at the most ridiculous things that really weren’t funny. That lasted for a few hours until we got to Lausanne. But before we jump the gun, we arrived in Geneva around 7:30 and hopped on a double decker bus (I was so excited!) to drive through the stunning green landscape of Switzerland to Geneva. Drove through quaint streets and finally ended up at Ave Marc Dufour 15!

Then we got our room assignments. My roommate wasn’t on the group flight, so I had to move into my room by myself. Then we had a light breakfast, another hour to unpack, lunch, and orientation. After that, we went on a walk down to Lake Geneva and looked at the Olympic museum, which they moved onto a boat while the building is undergoes construction. Then, we had more time to unpack, at which point my roommate arrived! She told me of her summer plans, and we caught up on the past few months. Caught dinner together, and then went on an adventure through the city, while the boys we were with snapped pictures. Now, we’re back at La Croisée, looking at tomorrow’s (early!) plans, and rejoicing about classes not starting until the thirteenth. Win? I think yes! Well, I must be getting to bed to catch up on my rest!

Bonne nuit!


Sunday, September 2, 2012

September 2, 2012: The Woes of a Packer

Oh. My. Goodness.

That is all I can say. Besides “I hate packing.” Which I do after this weekend. Now let me explain. I anticipated packing only two bags: one check-in and one carry-on (and my backpack, but I’m not counting that). That’s still a go. But I thought I would only pack about seventy-five pounds combined. Ha. Ha. Ha. I wish. See, I went shopping last weekend and bought a lot of sweaters, a pair of shoes, and some T-shirts. I thought they would only weigh about ten pounds…. Oh. My. Goodness. Was I wrong! I have absolutely no idea how much these clothing items weigh, but my two bags combined weigh some ninety pounds. What can I say? I’m going abroad for eight months, and I’m a girl, so obviously my plan to keep my large carry-on under fifty pounds went south.

Basically, I started out with all of my clothes folded in piles on my bed according to their type: jackets and cardigans, sweaters, T-shirts, workout clothes, etc. My mom and I loaded my shoes into the suitcase first, and then started inserting my piles of clothes. With my workout clothes, T-shirts, one of my two piles of sweaters, socks and undergarments, and possibly one semi-large pile of long-sleeved shirts left to pack, we weighed the suitcase. Fifty-two pounds. We had already put about twenty-five pounds of my heavier clothing items in vacuum bags and put them into my carry-on, and were having some difficulty zipping it closed.

(Zipping a bag closed - it took all my weight to get the air out...Too much stuff? Nope!)

Mom suggested I just pack the rest of my clothes into a different bag and pay the $100. My big bag could hold probably about twenty extra pounds (it’s deceptively large, so I was thinking, Man, I could fit so much stuff in here!!! False. Well, it’s true, but it can hold about 75 pounds. See? Deceptive.), so I figured that I might as well fit the rest of my clothes into one bag and not have to carry three huge bags around the Geneva airport and Lausanne streets (When I went with my sister to Oxford two years ago, we traveled with her roommate, who brought about three huge pieces of luggage and at least two or three bags. Guess who had to help her carry her bags through Paris, London, and Oxford? This chica. Not doing that again.). So we rearranged my clothes, and called it a day. But I still had some of the smaller things to pack, like medicine, a small touch-up sewing kit, etc. As of the last time I checked the weight after packing the entirety of my closet for the year, my large bag is a whopping sixty-eight pounds, and my carry-on bag is thirty-two. One hundred pounds. Much more than I expected. On the bright side, at least my friends don’t think I’m crazy.

(The final product!)

The only problem? I still have to pack my backpack. And my room is such a pigsty that I have to clean it, too. Oh dear. I mean, at least it will be nice and clean once I get home…in eight months…gulp. I might need to get started on that before all of my energy runs out!

But before I sign off, this will probably be my last blog post before I depart the country on Tuesday morning, so I might as well talk about my feelings and update you on the status of my visa. Isn’t that what a blog is for, too? It’s anticlimactic, but I really don’t feel like anything monumental is about to happen. It’s kind of a the-world-will-end-before-I-ever-leave-for-Switzerland feeling. Kind of like when I never thought I would ever graduate from high school. But I did. So I guess I’ll probably leave the country. I just know that it won’t hit me until we’re halfway there, the first night we’re there after the directors have kept us awake all day and my energy is low and my emotions are out of whack (have I mentioned we get in at 7:55 in the morning, and the directors keep us busy all day so we can adjust to the new time zone? Kill me now! Or just hope and pray that I can fall asleep on the plane!), or until November or something. It takes me a while to realize some things. But then again, I might realize it when I’m saying goodbye to my mom in the airport (Dad, you know I won’t be emotional when I leave tomorrow morning – someone gets to get some yummy Starbucks to keep her awake on the twelve-hour drive to LA! Just kidding, I might join in on your weepiness.). Who knows?

Oh, right! Update on my visa! I got it! Finally! Woo hoo! Friday morning it came in the mail. But I was intensely frazzled after a stressful morning (we won’t go into the dirty details), so I wasn’t too excited, admittedly. Just kind of relieved. But now I’m so happy I’ll be able to travel with my friends and catch up with them after a long four-month summer.

Well, it’s time to take care of last-minute stuff. For the last time from New Mexico,

Hasta luego!