After a week of living here, I can say that Switzerland is pretty perfect.
I arrived in Switzerland at 7am with two suitcases, no sleep, and no idea where I was going. Luckily, I had an exchange buddy, Daria, who picked me up from the train station with her boyfriend, Sergey, to take me to my hotel. They are both from the Ukraine, and are maybe the nicest people I’ve met so far. They took me out to breakfast and we walked around Lake Geneva (Lac Léman in French) and they told me a lot about the University. Overall, it was an awesome welcome!
Still struggling with jetlag, I went to school the next morning with some serious nerves. French is supposed to be my thing, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was in over my head. But when I got to school, I met so many awesome people that I didn’t even need to worry. One of my favorite things so far has been meeting so many amazing people from all over the world! I have made friends from Germany, Norway, France, Russia, Iran, and Brazil. It turns out that over a third of the people in Lausanne are foreigners, which is awesome because I get to meet people from all around the world, and experience Swiss life at the same time.
After the less-intimidating-than-it-sounds written, oral, and listening exams, I got put into the more advanced level of French (which is good because I have to take ALL of my classes in French!). Most of the people in my class are older people with families who have lived in Lausanne for many years, and simply want to be even better French speakers. My teacher’s name is Pierre, which is really just the perfect French stereotype and I love it. Still, one thing I will always struggle with is calling your teacher by their first name, which is normal here but not so much in the States.
One night, our class met for dinner at a Swiss café in the center of town, and I don’t think my life will ever be the same. I ordered Croute au Gruyère avec un oeuf à la poêle, which is basically a huge piece of French bread covered with an absurd amount of cheese and a fried egg. This glorious masterpiece was arguably the best thing that has happened to me so far; if I could eat this every day, I would. The food here pretty much revolves around their cheese, which makes sense because it is some of the best I have ever had! As I was sitting at dinner with my classmates, I tried to explain what Velveeta is, but mostly I got confused faces. And THEN I tried to explain Kraft Mac and Cheese, and all bets were off. Explaining how powdered cheese works to a bunch of Swiss people did not go over too well, I think they thought I was a little crazy.
Other than the food, Lausanne is an amazing city and I can’t wait to explore it even more! For the first week, I stayed in a hotel in the middle of the city, so it was really easy to just walk around and see all of the architecture and art throughout the Lausanne. It has snowed almost every day, but somehow I think that made it feel even more special, like something out of a movie.
After staying at the hotel for a little, I got to my dorm in Ouchy, the region of Lausanne closest to the lake. I am lucky enough to be in a dorm that sits right on the lake itself! I can see the lake and the mountains from my window, and it only takes about two minutes to walk to the water. Before I came here, I pictured snowy mountains and a beautiful lake, and that’s exactly what I see every day. I am amazed every day when I peek through the gaps between buildings and see distant, snowy mountains. For now, I’m not worrying about my classes; I’m just enjoying the view.