Thursday, June 18, 2009

Settling into Switzerland

Hello ThinkSwiss Community,

I have now been in Switzerland for almost two weeks and absolutely love it here. In this post I am going to talk about my adventures to date involving housing. Where to begin though....

A driving factor for my time here has been housing. My apartment lease did not begin until the middle of June and I arrived at the beginning of June. Through a mutual acquaintance I had arranged housing during this void. Then, one day before my flight my housing plans fell through! After many phone calls and much scrambling around, it appeared I was going to be sleeping underneath the bridges of Lausanne or pay 200 Sfr for a hotel. About 3 hours before I left for my flight I recalled reading an article on "Couchsurfing." It is a group of individuals who make their couches available to travelers and often show them around the city so that visitors get a more authentic feel for the city than by doing the typical hotel and tourist activities.

I was skeptical of this arrangement: should I be concerned about what kind of couch I'll be sleeping on? Are these people going to end up being weirdos? Well, I didn't have any other options so I did it!

Before my flight left I had already had someone agree to host me for the first few days! It was a group of students at EPFL in housing near the lake.

Upon arriving in Switzerland I headed over to their flat. They were four guys and a girl, a mix of masters and bachelor students, all studying computer science. They turned out to be incredible poeple and it was the best thing for me to have done. They made a traditional Swiss meal, Rosti, the first night and we sat around and chatted. It was wonderful to learn so much about Switzerland first-hand and also try to learn a bit of French, too. The next night we went for a jog by Lake Geneva... it was perfect.

Then I switched couches. The new group to host me lived near the city center, near Flon. They were three PhD students at EPFL in physics and bio-engineering. Again, these were fabulous individuals. We ate good food, talked, watched Italy beat the U.S. in soccer (two of them are from Italy so they were happy). Also, we went out a few times to pubs and a music festival.

So now I am done with Couchsurfing and have my own apartment, but I am very glad I had this experience. I have only had great experiences with the people I have met here. In the upcoming weekends I hope to do more jogging and go hiking with my new couchsurfing friends.

JB

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