I have made it to Geneva, Switzerland.
It feels weird to say that. I don’t think it’s hit me yet that I am actually living in a different country.
My journey began in JFK. I flew direct on SwissAir from NYC to Geneva and talk about probably the best experience on an international flight ever. When checking-in the night before, I chose an aisle seat all the way at the rear of the plane. Well, it turned out that I got the entire middle row (3 seats) all to myself. So I actually got to spread out and sleeping became a non-issue. Then after about 7 hours on the plane, we arrived in Geneva. They even began disembarking from the back of the plane so I was one of the first to get off. I had no problems with customs and no problems getting my luggage. As soon as I left baggage claim, the BU administration were there with a shuttle to take us to our residence. Overall, it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had flying.
The first thing I noticed when I got off the plane was the incredible views from just about anywhere. As soon as I walked out that plane door, the alps were right there staring at me. It is such a shame that my phone was still off. What a wonderful welcome. The scenery here is absolutely incredible. The connection between the city atmosphere and natural landscape surrounding it blows my mind. As you’re walking in Geneva, you can look up and see the mountains beyond the buildings and it is gorgeous.
The way this study abroad program works is I will have six weeks of classes and then one week off followed by eight weeks of an internship and a single class that meets once a week. So far, all that we’ve been doing is orientation. We’ve been getting acclimated to the city and the apartment building where we are living and tomorrow we will have our orientation at the University of Geneva which is where we’ll be taking our classes. It has definitely been interesting learning where to shop and how to get around.
My classes will begin on Thursday and I have mixed feelings about them. I am excited to get started for multiple reasons. First of all, walking around as a group, or in groups, as we have been doing for the past two days, is infuriating. I understand that it is necessary in order to ensure everyone knows where they are going and how to get there but I feel like we look so much like tourists and so much like ‘silly Americans’ when it’s done this way. I am here to get away from that stereotype and I feel that I’ll be able to once I am on my own. Secondly, my classes seem really cool. For one of them, I will be taking field trips around Geneva, and beyond, to look at Swiss art and architecture. I mean, how cool is that?? Why can’t I do that at Lehigh? With this in mind though, I’m also not excited for classes. I’m worried that the professors are going to be very demanding. I am going to be taking two full classes in 6 weeks. That is extremely accelerated and fit into such a short period of time. What if I get behind and can’t catch up because we move on so fast? What if they have insane expectations from us? It has me worried at the same time as having me excited.
So far, my french has held up. I’ve been able to figure out where I’m going, read most food labels, and have short interactions with locals. I still find real conversations to be extremely difficult, but I’m working on it. I’m hoping that constant interaction in French will be able to help me. Understanding what is being said to me has always been the most challenging and I think just having people speak to me in nothing but French can be the most helpful. I’ll keep you updated on this.
That’s all I have for tonight, I think I’m going to post again on Sunday and then I’ll make this an each Sunday kind of thing… In case you were wondering.