Wednesday, August 31, 2011

More Swiss Times!

Hey! Sorry it has taken me a while to blog again, I have just been so busy! I will try to write the highlights of my week though!

Hm..where do I start? Ok, last Friday I left school early to go with the exchange students to hike to Zugerberg, the closest mountain to Zug. They really are like my family, since only they know exactly what I am going though.

We rode up this tram to the top of the mountain, then hiked around with Rolf, and saw some cow pies! haha. From left to right that is Carlos (Columbia), Bianca (Mexico), Me, Sienna (Hawaii), Elle (Colorado), Laura (NY), Pavel (Russia) and Pusit (Thailand).
Then we went for some homemade Swiss ice cream! Delicious! And took some pictures of the lovely view over looking Zug. These are my friends Laura and Elle in the picture below, who are from New York and Colorado.

The next day I went to Schwyz with my host sister to meet her brother and sister at the summer festival, where they were serving beer at a booth. We sat down in the beautiful old town, listened to music and yes, drank some good 'ol Swiss beer and Rivella.

Then on Sunday, my host mom took me to hike the Rigi. It was a pretty hard hike at the end, but well worth it for the view!

We took a REALLY high gondolla type thing to the top of the mountain, where I took this picture from. I almost got a little dizzy, so it is good I don't get scared of hights, like the Chinese tourists next to me. On the top of the mountain, it plateaus, and that is where I took this picture of the farmhouses who raise cows. They were so lonesome up there, just them and the cowbells! But I guess some people love the solitude of being alone in the mountains, which I can kind of understand in a way, it is just so beautiful!

We hiked for two and a half hours, on the flat section, overlooking Lake Lucerne. The final bit was definitely hard, but I was very proud of myself that I could keep up with my super-human host mom, who was like booking it the whole way up no-stop!  The next picture is not one I took, but it shows where we hiked too--the tippy top! You can't see it from this picture, but the Rigi is one of the foothills of the Alps!

This is the lovely view of the Alps from the top of the Rigi! It is not as pretty in the picture as it was in real life...which I guess is true for everything, but I think you will get the jist of what it looked like.

Here is a picture from the top of the Rigi, looking to the Alps. I can't imagine how high we were when I took this picture, and the Alps still look huge! 

School is going pretty well, and I am making Swiss friends instead of just hanging out with exchange students (told you so Dad!).  School is pretty excruciatingly boring though, because I can't understand a word the teachers are saying, except for yesterday, when I think they were asking when World War I started, and I couldn't answer because I can't speak German! Grrr. It is so hard not being able to be the smarty pants I normally am in school, especially in English, which I thought I'd be good in! Haha, it was a ton of grammer I never learned, like, "what is the second singular present perfect", and my German friends had to help me! Eeek. What is wrong with American schools? Well, at least I could help them when they said "I drankst the tea,"

I made some new friends today in Gym, and we talked about music together, which is great, because my class is a music major, meaning we all chose it because music is our favorite subject. Actually, Gym is even fun over, we jumped on trampolines the whole period! I was pretty skilled at it, you know me and my trampolining skills...haha.

And also, my host mom signed me up for a ballet class which I went to last night, and a Glee Club which I just came home from! Glee Club was so much fun! The teacher said we were going to sing an "unknown song" at the end of the class, and it was Seasons of Love! Everyone was so surprised I already knew it!

I love Switzerland so much. I love the transportation system, which makes it so easy to get ANYWHERE. I love how friendly and nice everyone is here. I love how people dress very fashionably for school, and try interesting clothes instead of just wearing North Faces and Uggs (haha, I know I do that too at home). I love the food, how beautiful the lake is, and how the Old Town looks like something from a story book. I love how people bike everywhere, and you have a 2 hour lunch, where you can walk to downtown or the lake or the market. C'mon, only in Switzerland could rock climbing be your PE class.

I feel like I am living a dream, and never want to leave. I just wish I could see my friends and family, who I miss so much. I wish there was some way to bring them to this new adventure with me! Oh yeah, and I wish I could actually speak German :) haha

Love and miss you Vashon and all the people on it. So much. Don't change to much while I'm gone! I LOVE YOU! You have no idea how much I miss hearing "Welcome aboard the Washington State Ferries..."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Life in Die Schweiz!

August 22nd, my first full day!!!

After waking up at 12:00 (I know it's late, but I was jetlagged!) I was picked up by my rotary counselor Rolf. He then took me to get a Swiss bank account (mwahah!), finnish immigration and introduce me to my principal. We drove around the sweltering Zug (38 degrees celcius!!!!!!) and I noticed somethings--all the machines were so hi-tech in the immigration office, and everyone was so friendly! Also:

  1. Everyone is weirdly tan//beautiful here. If you didn't know it, you would think you were in Italy!
  2. The town is SO well put together. There is no wasted space--even the trashy places look nice. There are no gross roads filled with huge parking lots like in Seattle, even their McDonalds was in a nice building, and put NEAR the road, so YOU DONT HAVE TO DRIVE THERE, you can walk!
  3. There are negative floors on building, some malls have escalators without stairs, and sometimes there is a yellow light between the red light and green light. 
Here is a virtual tour of my street, right before Rolf picked me up. It is quite quaint!

When I got back, I went to meet Eva and Michi at the lake. Eva is my host sister, and lived in Canada for a year, so here English is PERFECT. I would think she was American if I met her. Michi is her Canadia cousin, who's Mom lives in Geneva, so he biked over here to say hello (pretty long bike ride if you ask me...). They are both so nice, and it is great to talk to them. Then we went to the lake!!

This is lake Zug! It was so refreshing after a hot day.
There were a ton of people there! Everyone rode their bikes though, those healthy Swiss :p
This is a shot of the mountains in the backround--the Rigi is the tallest one.

August 23rd

Today, I went to school! It was AMAZING. Our school is HUGE and basically like a college. Everyone is in a class, whom they switch classes together with. You sometimes have like an hour or two gap with your class, so you can hang around the school and go to the cafe, or for lunch, walk to town to buy food. It is so nice walking in the sun with your classmates everywhere! And lunch we just ate in the beautiful market//indoor mall, which I will put up pictures of soon. I love my school! I wish VHS was like it!

Here is my schedule:

You cant really read it, but the day is divided in 45 minute periods, and the dark ones are free periods for my class, so school starts and ends at a different time everyday!

School itself was definitely hard. I can't understand German! The teachers would teach a whole class, without me understanding a word, which is hard and boring. But the girls in my class are very nice. I'm in the music major, which means my class takes an extra 4 hours of music every week. And the building itself is so modern and HUGE! I think there is 9 building of 6 floors! With 1700 students, because it is the only high school for the whole Kanton of Zug. I'm excited and scared for school, because it is interesting, but I feel like such a burden having to make the teachers translate just for me. At least I am getting along with my host family great, they are such nice and funny people, and tonight we went on a walk in a thunderstorm! Definitely a great way to end an interesting day :)

To end my blog of the day, here is a video tour of Steinhausen, my neighborhood suburb. I will put one up of Zug later--enjoy!

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Hey guys! I am typing this from Switzerland!!!! I was greeted by my host mother and sister in the Zurich airport at 8:30 am, after a VERY long plane ride (story is coming). At first, I didn't know where they were, and was so confused, because everyone was speaking German, which I know 2 words in. I eventually found them after finding a English speaking employee, who called Margrit, my host mom.
I was kind of worried that I wouldn't get along with my host family, since I have heard so many rumors about Swiss people being reserved and stern. Let me just tell you, my host family is not like that at all. They were both so sweet and friendly, and I felt very welcomed. My host sister actually spent year abroad in Toronto when she was 16, so she understands what I am feeling.
We then drove to my new house. This picture is for you mom and dad; look! I have a clean closet!
 This is my bedroom, with a newly painted desk from my host family
 Cant live without the laptop!
 The view from my room. Housing is really expensive where I live, so upper-middle class families live close to each other like mine does; their house is actually one of the nicer ones in the neigborhood.
 The garden! In this picture, it really looks gross, but thats because a tree is blocking it. It is really full of tons of beautiful sunflowers! And hydrangeas Mom!
 The living room
 And kitchen/dining room
 The deck, and of course, the bikes! Some kids bike to school everyday, even if it is snowing!
I'm so glad to finally be here! Tonight I am going to a rotary meeting to get my train pass, and tomorrow I am touring my school. My family is so nice, and I am loving Switzerland! Even after my horrendous trip here--I could complain for a whole page, but I hate when people do that, so I will sum it up quickly. My plan met thunder storms in Philly, tried to wait them out for 40 minutes, then just went to Pittsburgh for two hours. I missed my layover because of this, and had to spend the night in the Philadelphia airport, then catch a plan at 6 pm. It sucked, but I tried to make the best of the situation, and explored the airport, which was actually quite fun. Lets just say, I'd never want to repeat my experience, but I definitely learned a LOT from my 36 hours in Philly. I am actually feeling quite like an adult now, is that weird? Maybe because I did the whole thing by myself, and it all worked out.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Women's Rights in SWITZERLAND

As I am getting ready to head off to Switzerland, (HOPEFULLY in the next 2 days) I wanted to share one tidbit of information I found very interesting while researching Switzerland.

I think Switzerland is almost universally associated with three things: cheese, cookoo clocks, and it's neutrality. I think Switzerland's government is fascinating, it is actually one of the most direct democracies in the world. But while it's democratic government is one of it's proudest features, I've been learning some of the negative affects of it too--one major one being, it is hard to change old traditions. One change that is the most intriguing, or, I should say, shocking, to me is women's suffrage in Switzerland.

The United States gave women the right to vote in 1920, the USSR in 1917, France took as long as 1944. But Switzerland? Women were not able to vote until 1971, and in some areas, until 1990. Thats five years before I was born! I don't know what this slow start to women's rights means, but I am going to find out soon! This will be a HUGE change from my liberal home, and I am so excited for the change, this will be so interesting and different!

What do you think about Switzerland's wait to grant gender equality?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Almost there!

I'm leaving sometime this weekend!!!!! I don't know when yet, but I am officially leaving.

I just want to get the leaving over WITH. If anyone you know does a rotary exchange, warn them about all the work that goes into it...literally, 8 months worth, no exageration. And I'm still not done! The only thing that keeps me going is knowing how worth it it will be when I am finally there.

It is so hard to explain the feeling right now. Sometimes, I forget I am going, and life seems so normal. Then I remember, that in three days, I will be in another continent, for a whole year. There is no way to explain it unless you are in my shoes I guess, it is just very surreal. I feel like I am in a dream, I guess that is the best way of explaining it. I'm excited, scared, sad, proud, happy, and sentimental at the same time.

I go around my house doing normal things, then I look at a pot or something and think, I wont see this for 12 months. I grew up here my whole life, so its so weird to think I wont be here in a week to watch West Wing with my parents, or to pet my dogs after school. Life just seems so normal now, and I keep thinking, that I am about to leave, but everything here will stay the same. Everything is so sentimental right now, I feel like I am done being a child, which I guess is a little  bit of an over dramatic statement. This has just been the strangest summer. I see my friends, and I just cant stop thinking that they are staying here, and I am leaving. Our lives are different now. I will leave, and they will stay. The ferries will keep running, school will keep going on, and people will keep leading their lives without me.

Ok, enough of the sentimentality. I am sorry to rant, but this is just the most emotional I have been my whole life, and no one can really understand it.

I am so excited to go, and I am almost over the sentimentality. Its like, "ok, you cried. your done. get ready for the adventure." I am ready to go. I have been prepping myself for leaving for months, and now that it is happening, I couldnt immagine it any other way. It is time to grow up, leave my home, and have the time of my life. Goodbye young Emma, get ready, and enjoy yourself.

As the Jamaican head from Harry Potter would say, "Theez iz gonna be a bumpy ride!"