Disclaimer: No photo shopped postcard photos were used in the making of this post. They are all actually real, no matter how unbelievably perfect they appear to be.
This weekend, I embraced my inner Swiss and decided to fill my time with some outdoor activities! On Friday, I participated in an indoor rock climbing event organized by the ESN, which is the group that makes events specifically for exchange students. I have only been rock climbing a few times before, but I was excited to try again. It turns out that I am horrible at it, as in, bad enough that two 4-year old Swiss kids were mocking me because I couldn’t make it up the wall. I eventually made it up to the top of some of the walls, but I spent most of my time “chalking up” my hands and trying to act like I knew what I was doing.
One of the weirdest things about this event was that it included three free beers as part of the cost for participating. I am getting used to the European mindset that alcohol is not necessarily bad, and that most Europeans drink a glass of wine with friends in order to enjoy the drink, and not to get drunk. I didn’t even consider the fact that our school was sponsoring an event that served alcohol until I realized how odd this would be at Richmond. This is just one of the things that I’ve gotten used to here that will be totally different when I get back home!
After attempting to climb and falling a few times, I decided that rock climbing was not quite my thing, but I got to meet some awesome people.
On Saturday, I decided to try my hand at skiing and that was even MORE disasterous than climbing. I am not exaggerating when I day that I spent more time laying in the snow trying to stand up after falling than I did actually standing on my skis. My brilliant friend Amanda was an absolute pro and went down from the very top of the mountain. I did my best, but in the end I actually cheated and took the lift down the mountain (whoops). To be fair, I had to I’m giving myself credit for at least trying, I think it would be a study abroad sin if I live in Switzerland for 4 months and don’t even try to ski!
Apart from the actual skiing, the view was absolutely incredible and I just cannot put into words how amazing it was to just be there and soak it all in. I see the mountains everyday going to school, but being on the very top was something totally different. I will definitely never forget it!
I should probably mention that I am actually terrified of heights and did not realize how absolutely frightening the ski lift would be. Really, it is just a tiny little box held up thousands of feet in the air by a little cable. Totally not scary at all. Even at the top of the mountain, I was so scared looking down and seeing how high up we were. They say that studying abroad helps you overcome your fears, and that is the truth.
Finally, I figured I couldn’t end my weekend of adventure with a lazy Sunday, so I decided to go hiking with the exchange group on Sunday! We took the train to Interlaken, which is a notoriously sporty region of Switzerland. The hike was great and pretty relaxing until we got to the last half hour. We were running late and had to practically run up the steepest part of our whole hike. Despite the pain in my legs, the view from the top of the mountain was worth it, once again.
After a long weekend of nature sight-seeing in Switzerland, I am looking forward to exploring something new for Spring Break! This week, I will be going to Nice, France and then to Venice and Milan in Italy! I have never been to Italy before, so I am really excited to see what it is like! Speaking French every day is becoming more and more comfortable for me, so I think it will be strange to find myself in a country with a foreign language. I will definitely be taking a lot of pictures and videos! Be prepared for a fan-girl freak out in my next post, I am already anticipating the pizza, pasta, gelato food coma.
P.s. I forgot to mention how cool it is that John Kerry and other world leaders are here in Lausanne for the Iranian Peace talks! I have actually seen heightened security in certain places in the city. I just learned that the talks are being held at EPFL, another University in Lausanne that is right next to UNIL. Even more, my apartment building is between the city and EPFL, so I see the entourage of secured vehicles pass by our building every day. It is really cool to be in a city that has so much international attention and importance right now!