Wednesday, April 23, 2014

days > 240 -- growing

piece of advice for future exchange students #28:
invest in things that matter.

i've realized that when i leave, i probably won't remember parties. or clothing. i will not remember the various touristy souvenirs that i've bought or the sandwiches that we ate on the train.
i will remember people. i will remember families and friends and long conversations in hotel rooms during the rotary trips. i will remember crazy group selfies and running to catch our trains and getting lost in a city with friends.

and so i've decided to put my time into those things.

what i did in the 10ish days before I was SUPPOSED to post this:

  • Italy adventuring!!! it lasted for 6 days. and they were way too short.
  • we spent a boatload of time on the train. good thing we're in Switzerland and are used to hours of train time in Europe. also it's a good thing that train travel is my favorite way to travel. 
  • by the way-- I have no idea what the USA does or how we survive without trains. what are we supposed to do? drive? 
  • Venice: rode vaporettos along the Grand Canal, rode an elevator up the clock tower and saw Venice from above, ate the best gelato ever, got ridiculously lost every time we tried to go anywhere, bought masks, had pizza, took pictures, bonded over shopping and mangling of the german language.
  • Rome: got lost again, wandered through streets and ate panini sandwiches, tried not to get mobbed by other tourists, successfully found but did not successfully visit the catacombs, saw the vatican, was overwhelmed by the beauty of the Petersdom and the Sistine Chapel, celebrated Sarah's birthday, ate burgers, got closer to both old and new friends, learned the basic minimum amount of Italian required to get by, avoided a protest, simply enjoyed what used to be the cultural center of the world.
  • came to a new appreciation of Swiss trains, safety, food in general but specifically bread, and cleanliness. Italy is a lovely place to see. Switzerland is a lovely place to live. :)
  • tada, highlights. there is so much that i could write about, but i'll keep most of my stories to myself for now. this is an update, which means it should be relatively short :P
ciao for now,

days > 230 -- closing

piece of advice for future exchange students #27:
for me, a countdown to my return helps. for others, it doesn't.
that doesn't matter so much, though.
because in the end it isn't about counting the last days,
but about making the last days count.

as of right now (the 23rd of April, because I'm really really bad at posting updates regularly), my return date is still mostly a secret. what I will say is that i'm coming home in less than 100 days, and it is crazy for me to think about.

i do want to go back.

i don't want to leave.

things that happened in the 10ish days before I was SUPPOSED to post this update:
  • arranged a Glacier Express trip. a group of us exchangers basically rode a train through the mountains for 5 and a half hours together. it was fun.
  • I went away for the weekend with my second host family! we went to Splüger, in Graubünden (the eastish side of Switzerland). It was lovely.
  • my second host family is extremely traditional-Swiss in that they're organized and punctual and appreciate very Swiss things :) so it was a nice cultural-vacation too. We went sledding, visited two cheese factories (also a post to come about that, hopefully), hiked through the mountains, etc., etc. .
  • oh yes. I ate a lot of fresh cheese. if you've never had fresh cheese, I recommend it simply as an experience worth having. :)
  • watched Die Physiker, a show thing at my school. One of my classmates was in it. both he and the show were wonderful.
  • a couple months ago my art project was nominated for an international comics-festival in Luzern, so I went to that. it was exciting to see my comic with the top 20 out of more than 700 entries, haha.
  • art is a universal language.
  • it was nice to be reminded of that.

days > 220 -- following

piece of advice for future exchange students #26:
pay attention to the advice of those who have gone before you.
usually, they have important things to say.

In my second week of vacation, I stayed with a former exchange student (she went on exchange to Argentina two and a half years ago). It was 1) probably the best week of my life in Switzerland [except for Vienna which doesn't count because technically I wasn't IN Switzerland at the time] and 2) unexpectedly and wonderfully like a real family.
For me, since I'm used to being the oldest at home, having a big sister was awesome. I recommend the experience.

things I've done in the past 10ish days (not really. haha these updates are getting later and later...):
  • rode a sailboat across Lago Maggiore. to ITALY. I CAN RIDE A SAILBOAT TO ITALY YOU GUYS.
  • went to Fasnacht. hopefully a post will be written in depth about Fasnacht sometime later. If not... well, sorry guys, but I have a life. ;)
  • went to Germany and had brunch. for like 7 euros or less. probably the best brunch I've ever had. WHY CAN'T I LIVE IN GERMANY.
  • actually, i wouldn't particularly want to live in Germany. but it's a nice idea to have.
  • got stuffed with confetti at Basel Fasnacht. this basically means that people in colored masks run up behind you with about 5 kilos of colored paper and shove the whole lot down your shirt. hooray. (you will then proceed to shed confetti everywhere. two months later, you will still find small bits of colored paper in your bed, your shoes, your suitcase, and your sock drawer. don't even ask why. it is one of the lasting mysteries of Fasnacht.)
  • I was stuffed 12 times in a 10-hour period. I think I'm a talented person?
  • watched endless Fasnacht skits and songs and general traditional things. there is truly nothing like Swiss Fasnacht in the USA. I am still not sure if that is a good or a bad thing.
  • kidding. Fasnacht is wonderful.
  • met the newbies :) more newbies. newbies everywhere.
  • i'm super jealous. they have a whole year to spend here. and yet, I realize that even if I stayed... this period in my life is ending. it's ending for all of us. and I wish I could freeze this moment in time and stay in it forever.
  • but life goes on. and i have to accept that.
I would write more, but I honestly have no idea what I did during that period of time. I live in the now. ;)