From an outsider my belongings could look cluttered and an absolute mess, but I promise it is just organized confusion. Just like my last blog post, I am once again procrastinating. Today, I am leaving for a three weeklong trip throughout Europe with over 60 exchange students from all over the world. I will be traveling to Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Bratislava, Vienna, Budapest, Postojna, Venice, Rome, and Milan. We will be doing this entire tour by bus. I don’t want to speak a lot of Euro Tour yet because I am assuming that is what my entire next blog will consist of. So here is what has been up since my post.
I have officially been in living the village Uetikon for a month now. Village life is completely different than my life in the city. While I was in the city a tram came every 2-3 minutes in the morning so when Veronica and I didn’t run to our full ability we would only be late to school by 3 minutes. In Uetikon, a train comes once every half hour, so being late is not an option. Being forced to wake up earlier and not press my snooze alarm so many times has actually made me start to like morning. Every morning, on my way to the train station I hear farm animals, see the beautiful lake of Zurich, and get to stare at the stunning mountains. How could someone possibly hate morning living in Uetikon?! Coming home from school is a little tricky, with only one train every half hour and a train leaving the minute I am done with school, there is a little bit of waiting time. Luckily a boy in my class, Leandro lives in the village next to mine so I have someone to talk during the train ride.
I also was able to celebrate my 18th birthday in Switzerland, which was beyond words. My birthday celebrations occurred for over a week with Swiss friends, exchange students, and both of my host family’s. On birthday I had a long day of school and my class sang to me in what seemed to be five different languages. When I finally left school, it was a perfect spring day. I met an exchange student friend and a Swiss friend at a park in the middle of Zurich and we sat on scarves eating birthday cake and candy and just enjoyed the warm weather. At 6 o’clock I met my current host family in Hardbrücke where we had dinner all together at the top of the Prime Tower. The prime tower is the tallest skyscraper in Switzerland and the view was amazing. As we were eating, I watched the sunset over my perfect city and the mountains that surround it. They even sang Happy Birthday to me in English, which was extremely sweet and made me feel like I was really at home .The day after my birthday I had dinner with my entire first family including my cousins, host parents, Veronica, Aunts, Uncles, Family friends, and Natalie. We ate Swiss Raclette and talked all together. I have been blessed with not only outstanding people to share my birthday with but also my entire exchange year. I am so lucky to be able to call these people friends and family.
Last weekend, it was raining all over Switzerland except for the south where they speak Italian. My host family and I decided to chase the sun and head to Lugano for the day. It actually felt like summer down there and the sun automatically boosted my mood. My host mom and I also did a biking tour last Monday which I had been wanting to do for a very long time. The tour starts in Liechtenstein and goes through Austria and Switzerland. We may or may not have been lost in Austria for an hour or two! We ended up riding our bikes for 37 miles in one afternoon. I saw the country side of all three countries and it even though I was exhausted at the end of the day. It was so much fun and am so glad I was able to do it.
I usually sit down and write my blogs when I have a lot of free time and have nothing else I should be doing. Tonight I actually should be packing but I have decided I still have time to procrastinate.The first week of March I will be switching my host families. I am moving out of the city and into a small village. The village, Uetlikon Am See, is located about 20 minutes from the city by Train. Since my school is located directly on top of a train station it will extremely easy to get to school in the morning as well. This evening I attempted to get a head start on getting all my things together. Once I started I soon realized the amount of random stuff I have accumulated. ( I did find my kindle charger! So now I can download some books in German for the long train rides!) I know I will be able to get all of my stuff to my next family however, my flight home is going to be a tad difficult.
This week I got the confirmation that my Travel Agent is searching for my flight home and I should know the exact time and date within the next 48 hours. I have known I would be going home the first week in July since the begging of my exchange but when I find out all the specific details it will make it feel completely real. I have been reflecting my time in Switzerland a lot lately which has brought me both pain and joy. So far, I have had a better exchange than I had ever thought was possible. I can honestly say I have taken all the opportunities given to me and have really changed for the better. However, when I look back I also feel pain. I have the most outstanding family and friends in Switzerland and knowing I won’t be able to see them everyday next year really is nerve wrecking. Nevertheless, I still have over four months ahead of me and I plan on living this amazing life and enjoying every minute with the people and country I care about the most.
This week I returned from a two week break from school. I think I Spent less than half my break actually in Zurich because of how busy I was. When I was in Zurich I went to my friend Leah’s house and we baked a Apple Pie together. I actually only peeled apples and helped with the crust because I have a tendency to mess things up. Apple Pie is a typical American dessert but of course it came out to be better in Switzerland.
Febuary is officially Fastnacht time in Switzerland!Fasnacht is one great big Carnival which takes place all over Switzerland on different dates. I went to Lucerne Fastnacht which started at 5a.m! I had to take a special train that left Zurich at 3a.m to get there on time to see the celebration. I knew people always dress up for Fastnacht but I had not idea to what extent. When I stepped off the train it honestly looked like a zoo opened all of its gates and let all the animals run free. People were dressed up as everything and anything! I saw people dressed in traditional Swiss clothing and people dressed up at airplanes. It was a huge street parade/party with hundreds of small bands and different tiny parties around each corner. My friends and I walked around the city until noon! It was freezing cold but it didn’t bother us at all because of how amazed we were. People were throwing confetti the entire time which ended up in my shoes,hair,coat pockets,backpack, EVERYWHERE!
During my Holidays I had another Rotary Weekend. This Rotary weekend was not all the exchange students like Zermatt but split like Rigi. When the weekends split, they should be even but with Holiday plans and concerts my weekend only had about less than 50. We all met on Saturday and went ice skating in Engleberg. The weather could not have been more perfect. Since the weather was so clear all the mountains were completly visible. The walk from the ice skating rink to our house was stunning. We had to walk on a thin path of compacted snow and if you stepped just a inch off the path your whole leg would go into the snow so of course we were pushing each other off the path at every opportunity. In the evening we had two hours to hang out before dinner and we listened to music, exchanged pins, and just hung out being your normal loud exchange students. After dinner we played a game that Swiss children play at there birthday parties. Its difficult to explain but I will do my best. Basically there is a chocolate bar wrapped in a brown paper bag and tapped shut tightly. One person in your group must wear a hat,gloves,glasses, and a scarf. While this person has these items on, they must attempt to open in chocolate with the knife. While this specific person is cutting, teammates are rolling dice, if they roll a 6, the person currently cutting must take off all the items and give it to the person who rolled a 6. Only after all the items are on the other person can they begging cutting open the chocolate. The group that opens the chocolate and eats it all first, wins. As you can imagine this game with 16,17,and 18 year old exchange students got pretty crazy. Sunday, the weather was not as lovely but we made the best of it. We went sledding down mount Titlus. We spent the afternoon racing down the mountain and throwing snow balls at people that were passing us to slow them down. As always after a Rotary weekend I was exhausted and wanted to sleep until next year. However, being exchange student isn’t that easy there is ALWAYS more to see and ALWAYS more to learn.
I finally made it home at around nine on Sunday evening. I immediately had to unpack my bag from Engleberg and repack for my trip the next morning to Bivio. After I was done packing, I went straight to bed and woke up at FIVE! I took the first Train from Zurich to Chur. In Chur, I got on a Post Auto bus for two hours. I decided not to take any pictures on my way to Bivio. It was something that a picture would almost ruin. The view was something that I will never forget and the people on the bus didn’t even bother to look at it because of how normal it was for them! I actually did not go skiing in Bivio. My host aunt who is probably the sweetest person I have ever met kept me occupied my entire time in Bivio.One day we walked to the middle station of the ski slope and it took two hours to hike up and only five minutes to sled down! We also unexpectedly met a man who trains dogs to search for people after avalanches occur. On my last day, my host cousin Samuel and I went to St. Moritz. St. Moritz is one of the most expensive places in Switzerland.We walked onto of the frozen lake which was huge! There was cars actually driving onto of it. We then went to go see where the bob sled racing were held during the Olympics while they were held in Switzerland.On that same day I have to return home to Zurich so I could catch my flight the next morning to Germany. So in one day I traveled Bivio-St. Moritz-Bivio-Chur-Zurich. On my way to Chur from Bivio I saw the most beautiful sunset over the alps that could make the even the saddest person in the world feel complete joy.
I spent four days in Germany also! I went to go visit my friend Paulina. Paulina was an exchange student in district 6560 last year and that is how we met. I did so much in those four days to write so I’ll keep it shorter and more simple. In Switzerland, I must always wait for someone to speak to me or for me to ask a question to know what is going on because of the Swiss German. However in Switzerland when Paulina and her friends were making plans for the evening, I knew completely what was going on before someone had to explain for me. I can honestly say there is no other feeling like that. The last time I saw Paulina I spoke barely any German and now being able to communicate with her in her mother tongue was something that was so strange for the both of us. Paulina and her family were such great hosts and I am so blessed to have such a friendship.
I also did some major Toilette-tree shopping because of how much cheaper it was in Germany compared to Switzerland. Hopefully, I bought enough to last me through the rest of my exchange year!
I have been avoiding writing a blog post for almost five weeks now. This month I reached the half way point in my exchange. This coming week I will have officially been living in Switzerland for six months. Everyone told me the second half of an exchange goes faster, and I can now that this is true. It seems just like yesterday I was counting down to the New Year and now its already February! Here is an update on the last month of my amazing life.
Christmas Eve is day that most people in Switzerland celebrate. Christmas Eve morning Veronica came into my room to wake me up at the crack of 11:30. For all that know me personally that was a big danger for Veronica as I am not the most pleasant person when people wake me up. Nevertheless I woke up and got ready for the day. Once Veronica and I were dressed and ready we went to the grocery store and picked up food for my host mom to start cooking dinner. We made the five-minute walk to the church at five o’clock. Unlike Christmas mass in Carmel, there were plenty of places to sit and no one had to stand. The Mass was only an hour long including a little skit performed by the children in our church. The mass ended with the entire church singing Silent Night in German, which was of course beautiful. After church we went home and lit the candles on our Christmas tree that Veronica and I had decorated a few days earlier. The candles looked so much more beautiful than the electric ones we put on our Christmas tree at home. Once all the candles were lit we all sat down together and ate dinner. My host dad finished cooking while we were in the church. I honestly have no idea the name of what we ate, all that I know was that it was delicious and Italian. Of course we also ate Christmas cookies! After dinner my host mom played the guitar and I attempted to sing the songs. We sang in English, French, and German. We then proceeded to open presents, which is very typical in Switzerland. Throughout the night when the candles would burn out we would replace them with new ones and once again light them up. Christmas day was a day of rest. We ate breakfast all together and after Veronica I watched three or four Christmas movies until my host grandma came over for Lasagna in the evening. We continued to light the candles on the tree every time we ate throughout this two-day period, which was lovely. In Switzerland the day after Christmas, is also a day of rest for a majority of Switzerland including Zürich.
On the 28th of December, Veronica and I went to visit my extended host family in the mountains where they have a house. The house is so beautiful and has an amazing view of the mountains. We went for a walk in the evening and went to a pond that was completely frozen and walked on the ice. On the pond , someone had shoveled a circle so people were able to ice skate. This barely happens in Indiana except for the ice storm a view years ago. However, it reminded me of Dad and how growing up the lakes would always freeze over in Michigan. The following the day, while everyone went skiing, I stayed in and wrote papers for my online class. Although it wasn’t too exciting the view was amazing and I couldn’t complain because I was writing my papers in the Alps.
I spent New Years Eve with both Exchange Student friends and a friend from my class. We started by the sea and counted down to the New Year. The street which usually has cars and trams, was filled with people. I almost couldn’t move. Even with the large crowd the Fireworks were amazing and so beautiful on the water. After the fireworks were finished, the trams were still unable to pass on the street so we walk about 15 minutes back to the Train Station to catch a train. We then went to a club where we all had a blast just dancing and celebrating the New Year in such a beautiful country.
I am currently in the process of taking a second german course. The german course is either on a Wednesday afternoon or a Saturday morning. When the German Course falls on a Wednesday I leave school early and only miss German Class. I take the train to Orelikon which is about 10-15 minutes from my school. On Saturdays it starts at nine in the morning, and for those that know me. This is torture. I can not complain because I live the closest to where we have german course of all my friends. Some of my friends that live in different cantons have to wake up on Saturdays at five! I only have one more class left and it really has helped a lot. We always have homework to keep me busy when I have free hours at school. I am currrently preparing myself to take a proficiency exam in March.
This weekend was my host grandmothers 80th birthday! We spent the entire weekend celebrating which was extremely exhausting. On Friday, friends of my grandmother from Slovenia flew into Zürich, two of which slept by us so Veronica is currently staying in my room with me. We had a big dinner all together with my cousins as well. We had Raclette, which is a typical swiss dish. This time we were cooking different meats on top, the oil from the meat kept spraying and hitting our skin which was actually really funny because one of us would randomly scream and everyone would laugh but within the next minute someone that had laughed would also get sprayed with hot oil. On Saturday, we all took a train to St. Gallen and had a tour of the famous library. The library could have easily passed for Hogwarts. It was so beautiful and unfortunately photos were not allowed. Some of the books were over 1,000 years old, and mostly written by hand. After the Library we took a really old fashioned train from St. Gallen to Appenzell. The train had wooden seats and It almost felt weird to have my Iphone in my hand. When we arrived there was three people playing the Swiss Alp Horn. I really enjoy the sound of the Alp Horn even though most people do not find it very special. When they were done playing they let me try and play, which did not end too well! After,we went inside and had dinner all together. Right before we had dessert we went back outside into the cold to set off lanterns. It was incredible. I have always seen people around Carmel set of lanterns but I never got the chance to do it myself! While we set them off they were playing the Swiss Alp Horns in the behind us and it was such a wonderful moment even though I almost caught my lantern on fire before I could let it go. Today, we had a simple lunch all together which was really amusing. After spending an entire weekend with Slovenians, I have realized how much they love to sing. The entire weekend whenever there was a free moment someone grabbed a guitar and they would all start singing together in unison.
I finally forced myself to finish my online class! It actually was not as hard as I had expected it to be. I submitted all eight of my essays in and received at 93% ! All I have left now is to take my final. Since I do not live in the states I had to find someone to proctor my exam for me, which took two weeks and many phone calls. I am taking my final exam on Thursday after school and am extremely nervous.
I have “Sport Holidays” starting on Friday. Sport Holiday is a two week break from school where almost all Swiss people go to the mountains to Ski or Snowboard. I am spending the first week in Zürich probably hanging out with people from my class or just at home relaxing and the second week in the mountains with my cousins which I am really excited about!
This past Friday my school had a Snow day where the entire school was required to go to Flumserberg and either make snowboarding,skiing, or Sledding. Of course I chose sledding. The weather wasn’t ideal but no matter what the weather is, Switzerland will always be beautiful. I was the only one in my class actually excited for the Snow Day but my class went along with it and went sledding with me. Sledding in Switzerland is intense. Usually my friends and I go to North View Church and sled down the hill and just run back up. In Switzerland you actually go up on a ski lift and sled down the entire mountain. I have never had so much fun and been so terrified at the same time. I actually got my friends to race me down to the bottom!
Sorry Rotary Club of Westfield, Rotary Club Zürich-Limmattal, Family, and all my friends. It has been over a month since my last blog post which is too long for most of you. This past month has been hectic and I have finally found time to sit down and write about the last five weeks in Switzerland. Be prepared to be reading for the next ten minutes about my adventures abroad I hope it makes up for my lack of posts.
I got a lot of questions from family and friends back home if Thanksgiving is celebrated in Switzerland and the answer to that is no. However, that does not mean I couldn’t bring Thanksgiving to Switzerland! The Friday before Thanksgiving we had a “Swissgiving / Pie Party” at my friend Elise’s house. Elise and her host mom made over six pies and baked all day like you would for Thanksgiving in America. Exchange student friends, Swiss Friends, Elise’s host mom and Elise’s host sister were all there. All the American’s explained how we celebrate Thanksgiving and explained the history also. We then proceeded to go around the room and say what we are all thankful for!
I am thankful for the life I live. At the age of 17 I have two homes and two families across the world from one another. I have seen more things then some people see in a lifetime. I have friends from all over the world and a new perspective on life. I have wonderful Swiss friends who are kind enough to speak high German with me and are always patient when I speak slow or wrong. I am thankful for Rotary International for making this entire experience possible and supporting me all the way through this journey. Finally, I am thankful for all of my parents for always being there for me no matter what.
Rotex Weekend: Zermatt Switzerland
After my last Rotary Weekend at the Rigi I did not think it was possible to have a better weekend with my Rotary family. My weekend in Zermatt was just another reminder of how abnormally amazing my life truly is. To get the weekend started Rotary had reserved a wagon of the train just for the Exchange Students for the three hour long train ride from Zürich to Zermatt. I live at the most amazing location just 5 minutes from the main station so the night before Elise spent the night so we could sleep in longer in the morning! As you could imagine a train filled of Exchange Students was one giant party with music from all over the world and probably 8 different languages be spoken all at one time. We stayed in a Youth Hostel with a Post card perfect view of the lovely Matterhorn. We did a scavenger through the city and went through the Matterhorn Museum as well. At night we all ate Fondue together and Rotary rented out a night club for us to dance and hang out in. After being exhausted from two hours of dancing we went back to the restaurant we had Fondue at to have dessert. We then divided upand sang songs that come from our countries.The next morning we actually went up to the Little Matterhorn to get a perfectly clear view of The Matterhorn. Just another breath taking moment Switzerland has given me. We then had an hour of free time before our train came so Elise and I went to go find a bench. We went by the creek and found these really cool chairs, and we looked up The Matterhorn was directly in front of us. So on a random Sunday in Switzerland two American girls took a nap casually with The Matterhorn in front of them. Unbelievable.
Being from the Mid-West and always being buried in snow during the winter time I almost forget some people have never seen snow before. After eating fondue we realized the restaurant looked a little empty. We went outside to see if we could find everyone. The restaurant had a field in front of it which had been transformed into a battlefield. Almost all the Exchange Students from South-America had started a snowball fight. Most of them did not even have gloves on but that did not stop them. I have never heard so much laughter while being hit with snow. It brought be so much joy to see everyone so happy and cheerful from something as simple as snow.
Here is the Youtube link to Elie’s Vlog she made for the weekend!
I was asked to a school dance by my Swiss Friend Jerome. The theme of the dance was The Roaring Twenties so everyone dressed like they should be in The Great Gatsby. There was two different rooms to dance in, one for “Fancy dancing” and the other for more casual dancing. It is always interesting to see how the same events like a school dance can be so different. The teachers were actually serving wine to students, and everyone around me was drinking wine! There was also a piano in the middle of the room and my friend Erin got a crowd of people around her to sing along while she played.
Christmas time in Switzerland
Within the last two weeks Switzerland has transformed into a Christmas Wonderland! Bahnhofstrasse is filled with Christmas Tree’s and lights hanging up in every direction for as long as you can see. I find myself taking the other tram home even though its a longer trip just to look at how beautiful it is. My host family has made an Advent calendar and we are filling the bags with little presents all month for each other! December 6, is the traditional Santa Day. On this day, “Samichlaus” ( Swiss German) and “Schmutzli” come from their cottage in the woods to visit children at their homes. Kids are supposed to rehearse a poem and make a promise to be better in the upcoming year. These days, whether they have been naughty or nice, children are left with a bag full of walnuts, peanuts, chocolates, tangerines and ginger breads. Since I am not a child they would not stop by my house. So the weekend before my host cousins, aunt, Veronica, and my host grandma went to a cottage in Opfikon to visit Samichlaus and Schmutzli. By no surprise I was the only one over the age six to see them. I was so excited it did not even bother me! For all Americans this was equivalent to taking me to the mall and sitting on Santa’s Lap!
Italian Host Family
My host family that I spent the Fall Holiday’s with spent the weekend in Switzerland! Its a family tradition that they spend a weekend in December with us and go to differnt Christmas Markets. On Saturday, we stayed in Zürich and walked through the older part of the city. On Sunday, we went to Appenzell and Saint Gallen and although it was cold I had an amazing time and I was so lucky to be part of it. Sunday night when we got home we made Fondue and it was delicious! Veronica tried to feed me the “Grossmutter” which is all the cheese at the bottom that has burned. It was not very good at all but she enjoyed it!
Every Rotary meeting before I left they explained that magical moment when learning a language and everything starts to click. I am very excited to say I have reached that moment. Even though when I speak everything isn’t always correct, I can still hold a conversation.I know what my teachers are saying a majority of the time (minus physics and biology). I don’t have to think alot anymore before I speak and my pauses are becoming shorter and shorter. People around me are saying how much better my German is and that is probably the best complement I could ever get. I am still far from being fluent but I know I am improving which keeps me motivated!
Going to Switzerland I expected to learn a new language and face countless opportunities for adventure, but I did not expect for the small, seemingly small moments to also cause impacts in my life. Going into this, the countless opportunities for spectacular adventures overshadowed the possibility for my day-to-day life to take on a new form. The age of social media has made it possible for me to share stories like my trip to Venice or the time my friends and I found ourselves in the middle of no where with anyone willing to take the time to read . What people won’t hear are the little things throughout my week that bring me so much joy and happiness. It is impossible to share the millions of moments that have made these three months so unforgettable. These experiences are the ones that make my exchange so personal and special to me. It is hard to put moments into words and to express to you how surreal my life has become. Quite honestly, no one will ever completely understand my life abroad. This past week I thought a lot about my favorite little moments that were never spoken of and wanted to take the time to write them out. I will never truly if my message will be fully conveyed but I hope this glimpse into my Swiss life will do it justice.
At my school every year you are required to take Sport. I really enjoy my sport lessons because it is a break from all my difficult classes. A majority of the time I can understand what my teacher is saying and know the activity we will be playing. Last week this was not the case at all. My teacher has spoken very quickly and I was not completely sure what she had said. As soon as she was done speaking my class moved really fast to get into position for the beginning of the game. The fast movement left me with no time to ask my friends to explain. As the game started balls were flying everywhere. Dodgeball. Not only was it dodgeball but two sided dodgeball so you could get hit at almost every angle. Needless to say, I was one of the first people out. The lesson before that my teacher had told us we were going to listen to a song while running and when we heard certain words we either had to jump or do a push-up. However, this song was in Swiss German and I did not the words I was supposed to be looking for. I was constantly looking around to see what my friends were doing but did not know what action to do. As a result, I ended up just throwing my body down onto the gym floor.
Since I have moved to Switzerland ,I have really realized how gross my American diet was. Almost all the food I consume here is fresh and I could probably find the cow my cheese came from. Last week my host mom was making pumpkin soup. It was a really cold and wet autumn day so hot soup was perfect. She asked me if I could run to the bakery and pick some bread up for dinner. Of course I said yes, I grabbed my coat and made the 4 minute walk down to the bakery. When I got there I waited my turn and I told the lady what I wanted. Usually when I speak German in public people automatically respond to me in English. It is very frustrating but my accent is extremely thick so I think people do this just to be kind. However this time was differnt which is why this particular bakery visit made me so happy. We spoke German together about bread which seems stupid but it was a huge accomplishment for me.
When I found out I was going to do an exchange year in Switzerland, one of the first things I learned was the difficulties of Swiss German. Swiss German is a spoken language and usually not a written one. However younger people tend to now text in Swiss German. My class has a WhatsApp Group message where they talk about what homework is to be done and when tests are in Swiss German. A couple of days ago I opened the group message to see what was going on. I had no idea what they were saying and Veronica was not home to translate. All I knew was it wasn’t about school work. I decided it was not worth the trouble to ask them to speak High German and started to get ready for bed.The next time I checked my phone , Léoni, a girl my class had texted me and told me what everyone was saying. Yes this is small act of kindness but it really meant a lot. It mean a lot to have someone that can understand the difficulties you are encountering learning a new language. Also knowing that someone thinks of you when things like Swiss German occur and want to help.
Electric Fences, Elise, and Hallwilersee
If you were to walk around Switzerland on Sunday you would think a Zombie Apocalypse had occurred. Sunday is actually a day of rest which is very different than at home where I am usually running errands with my mom. Last Sunday Elise asked me if I would like to come over and go visit her school and then spend the late afternoon at a lake. It takes about an hour to get to Elise’s village from Zürich which is not to bad.It was really interesting to see the differences from where she goes to school and spends her days from where I do. After we were done we headed to the lake to meet our friend Hendrik.Elise and I decided to take a walk before we went down to the docks. We of course ran into a field of cows. I love the cows that seem to be over populating Switzerland and I wanted to touch one. We waited by the fence for the cows to come closer, when they did Elise and I started to feed them grass and play with them. Once we started to walk away I went to put my hand down and touched the fence, which was electric. Yes, it hurt like non other and I screamed like a little girl. We then went on the boat right as the sun was setting. Hendrik, Elise, and I were the only ones on the top of the boat and it was sos quiet. The lake is located right by the mountains and the sky was during the mountains blue, orange, and pink there is really no words to describe the beauty of that night. Once the boat was docked we celebrated the end of the season with Hendrik’s family and I pretended I could understand what they were talking about.
Curling in Switzerland
Yesterday my Rotary Club had a curling event and they invited me to go. I honestly had no idea before going how to curl. I had seen it on T.V but never thought I would have to the chance to play so I did not pay attention. When I got there we had to change our shoes for proper curling shoes and had to practice our technique. At first I was just falling and flinging my body onto the ice looking like a fool . After a while though I figured it out and actually scored a point or two for my team.Although my team did not win I had a lot of fun. Plus how many people can say they participated in a curling tournament in Switzerland?
Going along with my German Mistakes
Did you know Switzerland only has one Victoria’s Secret in the entire country ? It actually is located in the Zürich Airport which is a 10 minute train ride from my house. Last weekend my classmates wanted to go shopping there and invited me to come also. Before I left , my host dad asked me what I was going to that night. I responded using the completely wrong word and he went along with it and it actually made me laugh really hard . I told him “I will go to fly” instead of saying ” I will go to the airport”. He responded saying how impressive it was and it took me a while to realize the mistake I made. However, I will always remember the word for airport now. Flughafen = airport Fliegen= To fly
For the past week and a half I have been on Holidays. I spent the first week in Italy with my host family. Italy was just another of the many experiences that make me realize the crazy life I live. The first night in Italy we arrived in the early evening and had dinner on top of a Mountain. From the restaurant you can see the entire city of La Spezia and was definitely a jaw dropping view with all the lights of the city. Of course I ordered pizza the first chance I got because nothing is cooler than eating pizza in Italy right?! Little did I know the next week I would soon consume my weight in pizza. Dinner with my host family is something that I look forward to every day. They are some of the most entertaining people I will ever meet. Listening to stories about their life and the experiences they have lived is something that never seems to get old. The first night we stayed in a hotel that is near the house my host family is currently renovating. You can actually see the house from the balcony of our hotel room. The hotel is on the opposite side of the mountain where the restaurant was so all you see when you look out is the ocean. On the second day, they took me to see the house. You actually park your car and walk up the mountain for about 4 minutes to get to the house. The house is adorable and even has something that can be compared with a balcony on the roof. The view , like the hotel is all ocean. My host parents had a meeting for two hours so they drove Veronica and I to Lerici where we walked through the city and laid on the beach. The water felt like Lake Michigan so it was not warm but tolerable. After the meeting we went to the house of host cousins. They live in a city right outside of Brescia. I am not going to lie it was a little uncomfortable for me at the begging because everyone around was speaking Italian and all I heard was a jumbled mess of sounds. This is nothing new to me though. It was exactly like when I hear Swiss German or my first few weeks in Switzerland. It also helped that they are the sweetest people I have ever met. The week spent with them went by way too fast.
Venice and Pisa:
My host mom, Veronica, and I spent an entire day in Venice. We traveled to Venice by train. I learned that Switzerland has been spoiling me when it comes to public transportation. Italian trains are definitely not Swiss quality. I was actually scared of the toilet. Although Venice was a crazy tourist destination it was crazy cool. Venice is seriously a maze. All the long narrow streets that all seem so similar yet so different are extremely difficult to navigate. We decided to eat in some restaurant that sounded good from the outside but we really had no idea. Within five minutes about ten gondoliers came in to have lunch and the restaurant was filled with them. It’s always a good sign to see the locals eating at a restaurant. We later found out that some old Italian grandma was making all the food. I think that is the best combination of a cook there is. I have been looking at pictures of Pisa basically my entire life. It was always brought up in Art, Math, Science, and History. It was such a strange feeling to finally be standing right in front of it and be able to look at it from all the angles. Sadly, I did not get to calculate the shadow casted by Pisa. I think the lawn surrounding the tower is the best people watching spot in the entire world. Everyone was trying to take the basic “Holding up Pisa” picture, including me. After several attempts I finally succeeded and even got a picture of me holding it up with my feet.
Shopping in Brescia:
Switzerland is a very expensive country to live in and everything is outrageously overpriced. Due to the high prices, whenever my host family visits Italy they go shopping. This is perfect timing because fall and winter are soon coming and I did not have enough space to bring my winter clothes, boots, or coat. So we planned to go shopping for a day in Brescia. English is not often heard in Italy. Of course with the exception of the major cities like Rome, Venice, Milan, and Naples. For every single English word that came out of my mouth I think about ten people turned around to stare. Dressing rooms were probably the worst because my voice echoed and EVERYONE could hear. I wanted to whisper even my thoughts just to insure people would stop looking at me so strangely. All the looks were well worth a new winter coat and new boots!
My holidays would not be complete with a lovely hike through Switzerland. Yesterday my friend Noah from German course and I went to Mount Pilatus. We could not had better weather for hiking. I woke up at six and was at the top of the mountain by nine. When we got to the top a man was playing the Swiss Alp Horn. I have never felt so much joy in one minute. Not only was I on top of Mountain with a good friend but was able to hear beautiful Swiss music. We hiked towards the other side of the mountain and had lunch on the peak a little off the path. The view looked photo shopped and we sat and stared for as long as we could. Directly below where we had lunch there was about 25 mountain goats just casually hanging out.
I have yet to mention this is in a blog post up to this point but throughout this year I am working on a little project for myself. Every time I visit a city or go on a special hike I am going to buy a T-shirt. At the end of my exchange I am having someone make a quilt out of all of them to represent this amazing year all on one quilt.
Switzerland is having a Euro Tour! Switzerland usually only has a trip to Paris and a trip to Rome but they came around this year. It is 21 days traveling Europe with all the exchange students. I will post a picture of all the cities below! I am beyond excited by I can Defiantly wait because it is towards the end of my exchange.
I have officially attended Stadelhofen for a month. At Stadelhofen I am enrolled in Chemistry,Physics, and Biology.I took Chemistry back home two years ago and did exceptionally well. However in Switzerland, Chemistry is extremely difficult for me. I wrote my first test this week. I was extremely proud of myself that I was able to complete a small portion of the test complelty without having to translate it first. The remaining sections of the test required me to translate all the words I knew then guess what the test was asking. Even if it has just been a month since I have started school I can really see progress in my German. Every night my host mom and I practice german. We start by learning vocabulary words by speaking and writing them down. Then,we read children’s books.She helps me learn the pronunciation very well and now I do not have to repeat my sentences 3 times before people can understand!
At the beginning, I was really nervous to ask my class for help when I was completely lost but now I do not hesitate. I am starting to feel really comfortable with my fellow classmates. Sport is actually one of my favorite classes because the teacher does not talk for long periods of time and I have time to comprehend what she is saying before we begin. However the last lesson we had, she explained what we were doing abnormally fast and I was completely lost in translation. What I thought was going to be a game of basketball was really a game of dodgeball.
Friday was the begging of Holidays.My English teacher asked everyone in class where we were going with our time off. When she asked me, she told me to tell the class in German. After I was done my class gave me a round of applause and I felt really accomplished.
I have noticed the longer I wait between blog posts the longer it takes me to write. I have taken twice as long as usual to write because of how hard it is currently for me to think of the proper english. I apologize for my English mistakes.
Last night while writing my blog post I kept going in and out of sleep. I did not have enough time to upload any pictures before I actually went to bed. I fell asleep at 9 and did not move until my alarm went off for school! Because this is the only way some people see my picture this blog post is dedicated to all my pictures from the Rotex Weekend mentioned below.
This past weekend was the first Rotex weekend of the year. Rotex is an organization of former Rotary Youth Exchange students aged 16 to 25 who are all volunteers. We were all asked to bring a dish from our home countries to share. I was going to bring puppy chow but turns our Chex Cereal is not made in Switzerland. I also could not find yellow cake mix to make pineapple upside-down cake like my dad does! So instead,my friend from school and I attempted to cook a cake from a box, which ended up in two pieces. At the end I decided to bring Kinder chocolate which is not American at all but everyone loves chocolate! Saturday morning I met about 10 exchange students in Zürich for the one hour train ride to Brunnen. Once we arrived in Brunnen we met up with all the others and split into two groups. We first went by the lake and ate our lunch. The last time I was there the weather was awful and you could barely see anything. However, Saturday the weather was wonderful, clear skies and the perfect temperature! Once we were done with lunch we switched with the other group and did some archery up in the mountains. That evening we took a gondola up the mountain to where Rotex had rented out this enourmous house that could easily fit 75 people! I shared a room with Natalie (California), Elise ( New York), and Flor (Argentina). During the night we stayed up way to late talking and dancing. By the time I finally fell asleep (to Elise talking) it was around 2:30 in the morning. This was probably one of the most stupid decisions of my exchange because only two and a half hours later Rotex came running through the halls telling us to wake up while hitting pots and pans! By 5:15 in the morning we had begun our hour and a half uphill journey to the top of Rigi. About halfway up my friend Noah offered to take my backpack from me which was really sweet and nice so I said okay! Ten minutes later it started to rain very heavily. Noah had gone ahead and I could not find him to get my raincoat out of my bag. At that moment it was dark, foggy, and I was soaking wet. Most would say this must have a miserable and awful experience but I could not have been happier at that moment. I was hiking to the top of a Swiss mountain with some of the coolest people I know. When we made it to the top, the clouds had cleared and I was standing on top of the world. Absolutely breathtaking. Thank you Rotex for an amazing weekend.