Friday, January 27, 2012

Week One in Switz

I made it to Switzerland! I got here a little over a week ago and, after living in a Geneva hostel for the first few days of orientation, moved into my host family's house on Saturday. I know that I am behind on my blog and so thanks to the not-so-subtle hints of my little sister, here is a quick update.
I was late in arriving to Geneva so I missed out on the tour of the vieille ville (old town) which is a major bummer because it is supposedly beautiful over there. In the area where our school building is, right near the main train station, it is very busy and crowded; not the beautiful Swiss city I expected to see. But I have found some spots of beauty including this plaza on the lake where we ate lunch the other day, and expect to find many, many more.

the famous jet d'eau

The real beauty of Switzerland comes through in the countryside. We all have homestays in a general area surrounding the village of Nyon, in the Geneva suburbs. I live in a tiny village called Mies (“me”) which is right on Lac LĂ©man. I have to ride the train into Geneva for a paltry 20 minutes - such a short commute! I live with a family of four: a mom, a dad, a 13 year old champion fencer, and an 11 year old tennis player who has worn the same sweatshirt every day since I moved in. They are a darling family! I wish I could get to know them better but they are busy and I am busy and the language barrier is a lot more present than I was expecting.

these photos are from our neighboring, adorable town of Coppet

Speaking of French, we have three hours of French class, three days a week. You know how I talk fast in English? Imagine that in French, combined with a blunt personality, and some students who really only understand 60% of what she says (aka me) and you have my French teacher. It’s rough but I can already feel myself getting a little more comfortable with the language.
Academically, this term is going to be the polar opposite of London. We’ll have visiting lecturers on various aspects of international relations and will also go to briefings and conferences. We have three or four assignments including the major ISP (independent study project) which is not too bad except that every singe assignment includes five face-to-face interviews at a minimum. I’m sorry, what? I’m an introvert; it was hard enough for me to decide to spend a year abroad. So if anyone has some tips they’d like to share, please do!
My classmates are all very nice and it’s a great mix of people to spend four months with. I am the only one from Oregon but not, as I worried, the only West Coaster or even the only public school kid. I’ve already made some really good friends (there’s another pastor’s daughter! Tara in London and now Anna in Geneva...PKs are everywhere) and am traveling with some of them to Lausanne this weekend for a quick stay. The Olympics museum is closing for renovations on Monday so we are going to see it while we still can. As of today there are exactly six months to the Olympics! I’m so freakin excited.

Finally, before I end this “quick” update, let me tell you about the United Nations. It is so cool.
The end.

The chair is missing a leg, to symbolize the UN's work against land mines

We have library passes which allow us access not only to the books, journals, treaties, and full catalog of the UN but also to their cafeteria, ATM, and post office. We’re guessing about that last one, but one of the (two) guys on the program is a UN intern so we walk around with him to look more official. These library badges are pretty legit on their own though. Yesterday, after doing some research at the Red Cross library, my study group ate lunch at the UN and then walked down the row of flags in front of the Palace of Nations - my favorite way to exit the UN - pretending to be the future Ban Ki Moons of the world. Geneva is not like I imagined, but I’m loving it anyway! x

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