A quick note about this post: I’ve decided to write about some things I checked off the ol’ bucket list before this blog existed. I recently found old messages that I sent to my family upon returning home from a Switzerland trip. I added pictures & links to the messages, as well as shortened some names for the sake of others’ privacy. Other than that, though, these notes are straight from my 19-year-old self.
We returned to Planet Bleu too late to really do much of anything after Montreux. The next day, our couchsurfing host, ‘Y’, along with a few other Planet Bleu students showed us around Lausanne.
It was awesome to have a personalized tour–beyond Montreux, we didn’t really have anything on our agendas for the last two days in Switzerland.
We visited the Lausanne Cathedral and admired the stained glass windows and views of the Alps from outside. I can see why Switzerland is the Mecca of skiers–just from the views of the mountains, it’s clear that the winters sports scene here must be pretty kickin’.
Afterwards, we walked around Parc Sauvabelin, where there is a tower that offers great views of the lake, the mountains, and the city.
Being a tourist makes you hungry, so we stopped at a local cafe for a light lunch after the park. More Planet Bleu folks met us there to chat and say goodbye.
I was sitting at the table thinking about all of these people around me–veritable strangers, except for ‘D’ and ‘ML’–and I realized this group had taught me more about European culture as a whole, not just the French idiosyncrasies.
- Whereas dinner with a group of poor college students in the States means that you order pizza, hotdogs, Chinese, or some other form of artery-clogging take out, Europeans take time to actually make themselves a meal. I’m not just saying this because of the welcome dinner that we had. All the students the next night, all came in with other friends from their respective universities and made a million different dinners; not one person suggested ordering out. On Saturday night, one group cooked spaghetti, one group made spatzle, another tried to make some kind of unidentifiable meat thing. The point is, that they tried, not dialed.
- Even though there isn’t much ordering of take out, there is one fast food genre that is all over the place in Europe: the Ke-bab shop. On every street corner, you will find a Doner Kebab, where they sell things like grilled meat and veggies on a pita, or a gyro. These are the only establishments that are open on Sundays because they are family owned, and therefore not subject to government policy on franchises.
- You look like a fool if you don’t at least try to speak the other’s language. No one will make fun of you, they will let you take as much time as you need to spit out whatever is mulling around in your head, and you score major brownie points by not giving up and reverting back to English.
- GENEROSITY! Oh my goodness! When at Marquette, it is an unspoken rule, if not a definite social grace to ask before you take someone’s study fuel. No one locked cabinets, all food was communal, and people begged to share. Quite a shock for me, because I expected someone to take advantage…no one did.
Unfortunately, I have to wrap up because I have class (yep, with the Professor Snape of Civilisation française), but really quickly before I go….
…it’s now 185 days until the 2008 summer games. How do I know? The Musee Olympique had this gem outside of the museum that we visited in Lausanne. I left it out of this note because I want to tell you more about that museum later when we skype! [25-year-old Aimee’s note: I have zero clue what else I had to say about this museum or what I later told my family when we skyped :D. I’m glad I wrote this stuff down when I did. If I had to recount it all now…whew! My recollection would be 3 sentences long!]