My time in Switzerland is coming down to its final hours. It’s been a long semester full of traveling and learning to be independent as a francophone. I recently finished my testing on June 30th, and with the end of exams, I decided to explore more of Switzerland. I’ll show a few pictures of my most recent trips throughout the country.
First, I went to Lugano in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. This is a picture of a gate overlooking the city’s lake and flanked by the city’s park.
“Station’s Street Art”
The Lugano station also had some cool street art. The artist used a stencil over newspaper, which coated the entire walls of the station’s hallway.
Lucerne was next on my Swiss train travels. One of the city’s most visited sites is a monument of a dying lion, which commemorates the soldiers of the Swiss Guards who died in battle during the French Revolution.
The Lucerne Museum of Fine Arts was at once a refuge from the rain and a predetermined destination for my trip. They had little stations where you could draw, paint, and emulate the artists. I enjoyed this section of a book within their libraries on Anton Henning and his works entitled “Eva”.
The last leg of the trip: Zurich. I still had not visited the famous city, so I took the time to learn more about the Swiss German history. Inside the National Museum of Zurich, there were several different symbols of Swiss history.
It was a great day to travel in the city: good weather and a lively air. The municipality organized a huge festival throughout the city, which allowed for scenes like this to pop up in front of the traditional architecture.
That’s all for this time. I’ll be posting a summary of this semester soon, highlighting different trips and experiences. It’s almost time to head home, but until then, wish me luck as I clean my apartment and get ready to check out.
Hello readers. It’s been a busy week for me here in Lausanne: classes, dissections, and a day trip thrown in the mix. Fortunately, the weather worked out in my favor. It rained while I was in classes, and as I walked out everyday, the sun started shining.
Between a presentation, an essay, and biological literature, I’ve taken to doodling to de-stress a little bit.
Spring is here, which made for perfect timing to make a quick visit to Geneva after a stressful week of assignments. Out of all the Swiss cities I’ve visited thus far, Geneva appeared to be the most energetic.
I toured the city with a group organized by the Erasmus exchange student network. We stumbled upon a carnival as we walked to the old city section of Geneva.
As we approached the older quarter, the classic European aesthetic started taking shape. The post office was decorated with beautiful sculptures.
We eventually arrived in the old quarter where we learned about Geneva’s Protestant history. This chapel is found beside the former home and workshop of John Calvin, a contemporary of Martin Luther who sought to deviate from Catholicism.
Our tour guide emphasized how the Protestants opposed the corrupt nature of the Catholic church, notably its market of selling indulgences to absolve sins. To that end, the Protestants refused to decorate the interior of their chapels in the same way as a Catholic cathedral: no gold, no paintings, no stained glass.
We ended the tour of Geneva in the central square in front of this monument built in honor of the Protestants, including John Calvin (second from the left).
I appreciated taking this tour of Geneva and being reminded of events in world history that I learned about in high school. I can’t wait to discover more of Switzerland’s cities as I transition to the second half of the semester.
Olá pessoal! I’m writing to you all following my spring break adventures in Spain and Portugal. Studying abroad in Europe in the spring means that there are quite a few days off in order to respect Christian holidays. Semana Santa, in particular, allowed for a week of reverence…and also a break from my studies. I (finally) started my biology courses at UNIL, and I have to say that I am satiated with a balance of review material and completely new information. A week’s break was just what I needed after diving into pharmacology, neuroscience, metabolism, and endocrinology!
I first traveled to Barcelona with a group of friends from Lausanne. We, of course, went to the Sagrada Familia. Although beautiful, the cathedral is overwhelming!
Here’s a picture from Park Güell. Unfortunately, we were not able to visit the mosaics of the park, but we were able to tour the national park that surrounds it: a picturesque area that immerses you in a forest and rugged architecture.
Visiting Barcelona also allowed for another reunion with my friend and suitemate from UR. After the fun in the city, we continued our trip to Lisbon, Portugal. As a Portuguese-speaker, I was ecstatic to be able to speak Portuguese to random strangers and for handling sundry things.
Luckily for us, one of my friend’s from Lausanne reconnected with a former exchange student from her host university in London, Ontario. Her friend gave us a private tour of Lisbon over the course of two days, including a trip to the Lisbon monastery.
Along one of the harbors in Lisbon, there is an enormous monument dedicated to the explorers who set out on adventures to the New World. As our tour guide put it, the monument was directed at me.
Following Lisbon, we traveled to Lagos, a touristy area a couple of hours away from Lisbon. I became enamored of the area and its beaches and will surely try to invest in property there.
Lagos had its own angsty graffiti as well. Someone pointedly spray-painted “Natureza vitima do negócio” (“Nature victim of negotiation”) on a wall in front of a huge hotel resort.
That’s all from me this time. The next few weeks are going to be filled with my biology labs and maybe a trip here and there, but science dictates my schedule. We’ll see how far I get by next week’s post! (Probably not that far–to the other end of the biochemistry building, maybe.)
Recently, I spent a weekend in Paris: a weekend of sight-seeing, champagne tasting, and, of course, reunions. So many reunions. My close friend Lily from Richmond is studying abroad at Sciences Po in Paris this semester. Meanwhile, my friends from home, Sara, Emma, and Katherine, are studying abroad in Paris through their different programs affiliated with UMass Amherst, Boston University, and Skidmore College, respectively. Plot twist: Sara, Emma, Katherine, and I have friends from high school studying abroad in Florence this semester as well, and as luck would have it, we all decided to reunite this weekend.
I have been fortunate enough to visit Paris once before through UR’s Summer Study Abroad program. This time, I wanted to put an emphasis on what I haven’t seen before!
My first tourist attraction on the list: the Paris Catacombs. I have desperately wanted to visit the Catacombs ever since a certain horror movie came out. It certainly was not my favorite, but I loved the setting.
The Catacombs are the unfortunate consequence of the king’s order to essentially uproot a cemetery. There are so many bones–so many former bodies that make up the catacombs–, but you are almost immediately desensitized to death upon entering. The walls even have funny quotes on the wall, such as “Sometimes death is more advantageous than living.”
I may have already seen the Eiffel Tower, but that wouldn’t discourage me from seeing it in a different light…nighttime to be exact. My friends and I went to an event on a boat organized by the local Erasmus student exchange network that included a tour of the Seine.
The next day, I went to Reims, the capital of the Champagne region, with Lily and her friend Holly. We were able to tour a cave in Reims and even participate in a tasting. Reims is also home to another famous Cathédrale de Notre Dame.
This Notre Dame is built in the French Gothic style much like the one in Paris, and it was by far my favorite cathedral to study in art history. I sometimes forget that these monuments still hold ceremonies in them. Lily, Holly, and I were able to catch the tail end of a Palm Sunday service in the cathedral and watch the mystifying procession.
I’m always drawn to the statue of Charlemagne in front of the Notre Dame in Paris. I ended my visit with one last photo of the monument.
As my friend Katherine explained, “Paris is, at once, overwhelmingly big and familiar.” She’s a natural poet, and her words resonated with me at the end of my second stay in the city. I had so much fun reconnecting with another Richmond student and my friends from Cape Cod. I can’t wait until my next visit.
Hello everyone! You’ll be surprised to hear that I’ve been traveling a little bit. My biology classes did not meet for the majority of March, allowing me to front load some of my travels throughout Europe. First up was a trip to visit fellow blogger Maddie!
During my first day in Galway, Maddie took me around her campus at NUIG. The campus is located nearby the local cathedral. I’m so used to seeing architecture that is French-inspired that the Irish aesthetic was a stark change.
We also took a visit to the local market, which incidentally means a trip to the celebrated doughnut stand. If you go to Galway, go to this doughnut stand.
What would a trip to the western coast of Ireland be without visiting the countryside? We were able to take a bus tour toward the Cliffs of Moher and the surrounding hills.
Maddie described the Cliffs best as a form of “bleak beauty,” but I could not be more amazed by how naturally exposed the Cliffs are.
The more I visit, the more I walk, and the more I wear down my boots. I might have to buy a new pair soon enough, but the sea breeze and the Irish views were well worth it.
Seeing someone from Richmond was definitely a fun way to experience life abroad. Lausanne and all of Europe can feel so unfamiliar at times, but it’s always nice to know that there are connections to home everywhere. Check back next time to see who else I run into!
I’m unapologetically proud of the title for this post, but that might be the only sense of pride I have regarding my recent day trip to Berne. A couple of friends and I spent a few hours touring the city, and to be frank, it was the first time I experienced culture shock in Switzerland. I spend so much time in the Francophone quarter of the country that I had trouble adjusting to hearing and seeing German in Berne. Here are a few pictures of what ensued from our adventures around the city.
The city streets in Berne reflect more of a German influence than a French or Italian aesthetic. What interested me the most were the series of basements for each storefront.
Although Berne was very different from Lausanne, there were a few similarities, notably this example of graffiti that captures existential European angst.
I would not refer to Berne as a tourist-heavy city. As the capital of the country, there are, of course, a few museums and nature parks to visit. However, there is a certain trademark (for lack of a better term) that defines Bern as a self-directed metropolis, as if it bears no need from the rest of the world.
Bears are definitely emblematic of the city. There is even a park to visit bears that roam the grounds.
Unfortunately for us, the actual bears were hibernating, so finding the different statues around and above the city made do.
This might be the most curious thing I’ve ever seen in my life. It is a statue of an ogre eating babies. Some historians speculate it has anti-semitic roots. Others refer to it as a representation of Krampus. If you want to find out more, google Kindlifresserbrunnen!
Stay tuned for my next post! You might be surprised to find out who will be making a guest appearance.
Welcome back to another post of postcards from Switzerland! I, at least, consider any photo I take with a mountain in the background to be a postcard.
This past weekend, one of my closest friends from home visited from Paris. She came to Lausanne with one of her friends from their program at Université Paris Diderot. What kind of tour guide would I be without showing them the most scenic views Lausanne has to offer?
In addition to showing off the cathedral, the mountains, and the cityscape, I decided to take my friends to Ouchy, which is the harbor district in Lausanne.
Take a look at the commercial street overlooking the harbor. Ouchy used to be completely separate from Lausanne until rail lines connected the two in the 1800s.
Ouchy offers ideal viewpoints to look at Lake Léman and the Swiss Alps. Tourists and locals alike swarm to this area regardless of the weather, but, of course, the harbor district is celebrated more during the summer.
Can you blame anyone for wanting to visit? The mountains take on a new identity around Ouchy. They rise from nothing and cut into the sky.
The harbor district is also dotted with different sculptures and an English garden. I took a picture of this statue Vierge du Lac (“Virgin of the Lake”), which faces the mountains and sits away from the more commercial end of the harbor.
There’s definitely something mystifying about Ouchy. A few roses floated in the water, but the lake is so calm that the flowers looked like they were floating in space.
After a weekend with a reminder of home, I definitely started to feel homesick. Rest assured, my international travels are coming up soon as I finish picking out my classes. Until next time!
It’s the last full week of February, everybody, and now that classes are starting up, the exchange student network (ESN) has been keeping international students busy. Last week, I participated in welcome week activities ranging from touring the city and exploring the campus.
UNIL’s mascot is the sheep, which gives the administration a perfect excuse to have sheep roaming the campus. The ESN highly encourages taking a selfie with the sheep before you leave UNIL. We’ll see.
Welcome week also marked the end of my intensive French class that I took before the start of the semester.
To celebrate the end of the vacation class, we all went out to an authentic Swiss restaurant in front of Lausanne’s cathedral.
Before the semester officially began, I also went on a trip to the Château de Chillon right outside of Lausanne. The castle overlooks Lake Geneva and offers the best spots to take pictures.
Switzerland is a postcard, and I feel like every picture I take is a stock photo from Google.
My friends and I took a self-guided tour throughout the castle, which really meant looking for the best windows and towers from which to take pictures.
Like I said, we searched hard for the best photo ops. This is the view from the windows in the castle’s dungeon. It almost makes prison life look less miserable.
In one room of the castle, there was a video projection on the stone wall. The silhouettes of actors came in and acted out the siege of the castle in the 1400s.
As of February 22nd, I am officially a student at the Université de Lausanne. In other words, I officially started classes this week, which is only mildly intimidating. I’m auditing courses to see what I might want to add on to my overall schedule by March 20th. It’s a very lenient system, but here’s hoping everything will transfer back okay!
This week, I saw my first snowfall in Switzerland. I didn’t expect to be so excited to see snow, especially after my traumatizing experience traveling to and from D.C. However, the joy of seeing snow comes right back when you’re surrounded by so many people who have never seen it before. In particular, the Australian students look at the snow with childlike wonder. The excitement truly rubs off on you.
Here’s a quick scene of my first snowfall in Lausanne. The flakes here look more defined than the ones back home.
The snow also means that I was able to go skiing for the first time ever, much to the surprise of my friends and ski instructor. They expected that I would have gone skiing at least once before because I live in Massachusetts. Of course, it’s not that simple, and the appeal definitely varies from family to family based on several different factors.
I layered sweatpants with worker’s pants from a local thrift store. Just a day in the life of the thrifty skier.
Here in Switzerland, though, I feel like I would be remiss if I did not ski. I’m only an hour away from the Swiss Alps, after all! Fortunately for me, UNIL offers group trips to Les Diablerets, which include private ski lessons, lodging in the UNIL chalet, and dinner and breakfast.
I know. I know…even more mountain views. It’s hard not to look at the mountains or think about the mountains or talk about the mountains when you live less than an hour away from the Alps.
Skiing is weird. You tire every muscle in your body to go uphill and slide back down as you witness extremes in weather from the tip of a mountain. Somehow, it’s still so much fun.
My orientation is coming up this week, so stay tuned for even more of the city, but from the cool perspectives of local students sharing their wisdom.
Hey everyone! I’m reaching the end of my first week here in Lausanne. Between my intensive French pre-semester class and paperwork, I’ve been pretty busy all week long, but I couldn’t have imagined a better host city. Before coming to Switzerland, I received advice from different people concerning studying abroad: how to be safe, how to have fun, and what to look out for. When the advice concerned Switzerland, I started getting this idea of entering a homogenous area that doesn’t particularly cater to international visitors. I have spent about a week exploring the city now, and with each day, I find so much of an international emphasis and a city whose university attracts innumerable exchange students.
Everywhere I go, I can always see the mountains behind buildings. It’s a beautiful combination of the natural landscape and the modern cityscape.
I found this graffiti at the train stop in front of UNIL. It translates (roughly) to “Let us not be sheep.” Coincidentally, I found the message the same day I was assigned to explore an original research topic that ties in with the city of Lausanne.
The Cathedral of Lausanne is absolutely breathtaking. It may not be featured in the art history textbooks I’ve used in the past, but its interior rivals that of any parallel architecture in Europe.
In my travels throughout the city, I have encountered the Olympic Museum. Lausanne will host the winter Olympics in 2020, and in anticipation of the event, the museum displays replicas of well known statues from their Classical origins.
The museum also showcases modern representations of the Olympics and offers fun facts about Rio de Janeiro all around the grounds.