I had such a great and refreshing time in Geneva! After a stressful morning—which involved a quarter-mile SPRINT to the bus for the plane—it was the best relief to “come home” with Polly to visit her family in Geneva. (Polly is the friend who lived in the US when we were kids but then moved back to England. She goes to school here but her family now lives in Geneva.) They fed me home-cooked meals, took me on a tour of the city, and generally allowed me a vacation from the study abroad mentality of constant independence and constant awareness of my situation as a student far away from home. Normally these things are baseline always on the mind, but I was finally able to just live and be a normal person in a foreign city and that was quite nice.
Geneva is beautiful. The old town is picturesque (forgot my camera for that excursion), and the new part is very cool with its tram system and electrically powered buses. There are parks, tree lined streets, and the great big Lake Geneva, which is perfectly green-blue and clear! We took a boat across the lake and had a good laugh when the lake, which looked so serene, turned out to be very choppy. We had an even bigger laugh when we saw some brave souls jump into the freezing cold lake and then scramble back out—all completely naked.
One morning we took the tram to CERN, which, as you may know, is where lots of science happens. They tried to explain the universe to us but I don’t think I understood. Apparently there are 9 dimensions but the 4th one is invisible. Also, particles.
There was one thing in there that we can all appreciate: the proposal and the first server for the World Wide Web! There is a note on top of the proposal that reads “vague but exciting…” I just find that mildly hilarious. The picture below the proposal is of the visitors center itself. Lots of floating orbs…weird light shows…all very universe-y.
Other highlights of the trip included a day trip to Lausanne (pictured below), totally failing at laser tag (16th place out of 18 players), going through old photo albums (Polly’s 9th birthday was a great and embarrassing time), trying to explain Frats and Sororities, eating a PB&J with real American peanut butter, drinking Swiss hot chocolate, eating a pizza “exotique” with BANANAS on top (new obsession), tasting my first snails (yum) and just hanging out. It was especially interesting to compare how our lives differ between the US and Europe…and just how similar so many things are, like pop culture, thanks to the internet.
The joke of the trip was that the clouds covered the Alps for my entire visit. On the train ride from Geneva to Milan I could finally make out a faint outline of the mountains, and they were SO HUGE! It was also funny that, for the several days I was there, the Jet d’Eau turned on only on my way to leave the city. (It was off again by the time Polly and her mom returned from dropping me off at the station!) The Jet d’Eau is a huge fountain and one of Geneva’s claims to fame. Here is a picture from Wikipedia. (Tech help: You have to click on that underlined sentence.)
The view of the Alps from the train. You might have to squint. It is hard to believe that they can disappear so completely in the fog, like in the picture below. I promise there are Alps on the other side of that lake!
The train ride was absolutely stunning the whole way through. I thought the picture above looked particularly beachy, but it was a few dozen degrees too cold for anything less than a winter coat. In all, I am so happy with the way things worked out for this first portion of my Spring break. I don’t think little me ever expected to see Polly again, and even a few months ago, I couldn’t have imagined ending up in Geneva with her family. I am so thankful for the way things turned out, and experiencing a foreign city from a more local perspective even changed the way I think about my stay in London.
Stay tuned for Spring Break Part II: Milan!