Bonjour! I’ve made it safely to Switzerland, although the past few days have definitely been a rollercoaster of emotions.
The flight from Sydney to Dubai was good. The ICS students were very fortunate to be flying with Emirates- a top notch airline with top notch meals and super awesome in-flight entertainment. I sat in the middle seat and on my left was a very well-travelled South African girl who was super nice. On my right was a middle-eastern lady who was not so nice, although that could be because she didn’t speak very good English and kept grabbing my arm to check the time (little did she know that my watch, after 3 years of good service, was in its last hours of ticking). During the flight I watched two movies- the 1D: This Is Us documentary and Ratatouille (I could have watched a movie entirely in French but I figured it was best to ease myself into the language with a bit of Disney rather than start dreading the fact that I actually can’t understand anything). Anyway, after 14 hours of flying, we finally landed in Dubai.
Dubai airport is super massive and literally took us a train ride and a bus ride to get to our terminal. After a 3 hour stop-over, we were on the plane to Geneva where I sat next to the other ICS Lausanne girls and also a Swiss man who was extremely friendly. I eavesdropped on his French conversation with his daughter and could only understand “je sais tu veux.” I drank a little bit of red wine on the flight which went straight to my head and made me want to sleep forever and ever. 7 hours later, we landed in Geneva. My ears exploded with le français and inside I was freaking out a little. The customs lady was all “bonjour!” and I think I muffled something between a “bonjour” and a “hi” (bonj-haiii???), When she was done looking at my passport, I said “thank you” which I immediately regretted. I could’ve been cool and said “merci, au revoir”, but no.
The baggage claim was a total joke and I literally stumbled over myself trying to get my 25kg baggage off the baggage belt (thankfully a nice man helped me after seeing my failed attempts). The next near-to-impossible task was to try and get all our baggage onto the train and head towards Lausanne. We managed to buy a one-way 2nd-class seat to Lausanne (although to be fair, the ticket machine gave us an English option) and we caught the 2:36pm train (after trying to figure out how to actually get on the train, especially with massive baggage).
The train ride was such a surreal experience. There was a rather old Swiss lady on the train and she had a little white puppy in a carry bag, and she was nurturing and talking to the little thing as though it was a human baby! She even poured water into a bowl and I could hear the puppy slurping happily away. Although I’ve heard that this is the ‘norm’ in France, I didn’t think it was the same in Switzerland. Crazy beans! I loved looking out the window and taking in the scenery- it’s definitely unlike any places I’ve ever been to. The buildings are all old and farm-like with hectares upon hectares of farm land and neatly lined crops. And then BAM. MOUNTAIN AFTER MOUNTAIN, just beyond Lake Geneva. My eyeballs were popping out of my eye sockets. I was AMAZED.
The train arrived at Lausanne around 3:15pm. The landscape went from breathtaking farmland to old buildings that looked a little like the ones which you might find in Redfern, Sydney- although these buildings had a little bit more character. By ‘little bit more character’, I mean they had French windows. French windows make everything look better.
There at Lausanne, we met up with our ‘Swiss buddy’ Frank, courtesy of the Exchange program at UNIL (University of Lausanne). He helped show us to our apartments and helped us get our keys, although apparently all the house managers were super annoyed because we were ‘late’ and they were supposed to be finished for the day at 4pm. Nevertheless, we managed to squeeze (and by squeeze, I mean SQUEEEEZZZEEE) our way onto the Lausanne Metro during peak-hour and head towards our apartment.
I had to lug my baggage up three flights of stairs! My muscles were literally aching. After that, I couldn’t get in contact with anyone (goes to show how dependant we are on technology) and by the time I decided to go out and look for some food, it was pitch-black and freezing cold. It turns out that all the supermarkets close at 7pm. So yes, I pretty much starved on the first night and the whole homesick-lost-girl-in-a-foreign-land emotion swept over me and I cried just a little bit.
This is my room; the before and after.
I’ve met all my 4 roommates- all of whom are super nice and friendly although my social awkwardness makes me want to curl up into a ball and never leave my room. There are 2 girls (one from Tunisia and another from Greece) and 2 boys (Tunisian and Swiss). They all speak really good English (except one- to which I said to her “je peux TRY parler en français”) so I’m really thankful for that.
I’ve had a few French encounters- mainly at the shops and when I attempt to speak en français, people usually ask if I would prefer to speak English. So it’s nice to know that I can kind of get by with my broken French because I find that most of the Swiss are able to speak English. It’s usually the older generations who won’t understand English.
I spent the first few days buying some essential stuff like cutlery, a pillow, blankets, power adaptors and groceries. The one thing that took me off guard was the grocery shopping which is a lot different to Woolies or Coles back in Australia. It’s kind of similar to Aldi in that you have to pack your own groceries and they don’t give you any bags. I was really proud of myself when I managed to ask le caissier, “je voudrais un sac” and then “je peux avoir un autre sac?” Paper bags cost 0.30 Francs.
Almost all the shops are closed on Sundays and the city is really quiet and empty.
There’s still a lot of paperwork and admin stuff to get done including opening a bank account and getting a Swiss sim card. Tomorrow I start the intensive French course at the university (eeekl!).
Anyway, I’ll leave you now with some more photos that I took today! (ALSO, HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY!!!)
Here's my fist vlog from Switzerland
Give These Posts a Squizz
I can’t believe it’s approaching the two week mark since I’ve left Sydney. It’s been a crazy experience so far with a lot of ‘firsts’ ticked off my life-list. So far, everyday has been busy and exciting. I’ve met a lot of new people- all super friendly with lots of stories to tell. Read more…
So if you follow my Instagram and Twitter, you’d probably know that Mattias is in Switzerland! On Friday we took a little trip to the capital, Bern. Mainly because I wanted to watch The Fault in Our Stars and for some reason they’re only showing the movie in the German regions of Switzerland. Read more…