Saturday, August 8, 2009

life in Zurich

Zurich has surpassed my expectations. It has a bustling city feel, yet you don’t need to go too far to be surrounded by the gorgeous landscape that Switzerland offers. Being together in this foreign country has brought all of the exchange students together, and has greatly enhanced my experience here. Earlier I organized a day trip to Luzern, and using the reliable and efficient train system we all ventured over to this enchanted city. In the afternoon we hiked Mount Pilatus. What I’ve come to realize is that this impressive mountain is just one of many that Switzerland has to offer.

We are all very excited and committed to our lab work as well. It is an amazing hands-on opportunity and I know that I am learning a lot of new techniques as well as a lot about the “research process”. So far I have learned that doing research is slow, sometimes frustrating, and yet very rewarding. I’ve learned how to write a research paper, put together a scientific presentation, as I have also learnt what it means to work in a “lab team”.

I speak English here almost all of the time, but I have also taken the opportunity to learn some Swiss German. It is so different from any other language I have learned, and very difficult to learn since it is not a written language and there are so many different dialects. However, I’ve noticed that Swiss people get really excited when they see someone makes an effort to speak their language. As an American, so often I go to a foreign country and expect people to speak English to me. After a lot of practice with the Swiss students, I am happy to say that I can now understand and speak a bit of this language, which I used to think would be impossible to learn.

Another weekend I helped organized a trip with some of the other BUSS students to Interlaken. On the first day we hiked in the rain, but once it cleared up, we looked down from the mountain at a rainbow arched over the city. That night the American students prepared s’mores- something that is apparently only really eaten in America. We couldn’t find graham crackers or the right marshmallows, but with a bit of improvisation (and some delicious Swiss chocolate) we made it a tasty and memorable experience. Now every time we go camping the foreigners always request that I we make s’mores! During the night, we pulled out our sleeping bags and slept in a barn that belonged to a Swiss family. It was surprisingly very comfortable sleeping on the stray, although we were woken up in the morning by the rooster and then later the goats. That next day, after having a delicious breakfast prepared for us by the farmers, we headed to Grindlewald. We hiked up an incredibly steep mountain and five hours later, with aching calves, we reached the snow. We were so high up, that we could see all of the glaciers in the mountain’s crevices but we could no longer see the village we had started form. We took the gondola down the mountain and arrived back in Zurich later that night.


Even though Switzerland is not all about chocolate and cheese, I think we have all adapted it into our diet and consume it in much higher quantities than normally. Even the cheapest chocolate here is delicious. Swiss people are proud of their chocolate, and will find any excuse to eat it. I would never have thought to just eat a chocolate bar on top of a slice of bread, but that is completely natural for them.

With three weeks to go there is still so much to do, and so much to learn. I know that I am not going to want to leave this incredible city.

3 comments:

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