Thursday, May 31, 2012

My life is so not Swiss...

As my second week of the internship ends, I realise how much my daily routine has changed since Switzerland.

Despite the stress of University, life was approached differently. People enjoyed long strolls by the lake, dressing up, and community activities. Although I was an outsider, I took part as much as I could and integrated into Ticinese life.

I came to Frankfurt not knowing what to think. I had only been to Germany once before (and that was for Oktoberfest, so I don't know if that counts). But now that I'm here, I can tell that it is very cosmopolitian. Trains, trams, and busses will take you in every direction. People are always hooked up to their iPods: this is something you would never, ever see in Ticino. This is definitely a "German thing"...I remember being shocked at how many Swiss Germans were listening to their iPods in Zurich, but it doesn't even compare to what you'll see here. Frankfurters like to wear solid colors, plaid, or strips. That's it. And the women don't like boots or dresses like they do in Switzerland and Italy...even Britian! It's rare to see women wearing makeup here...

The city is so large! I have to take a tram and a train in order to get to work; it takes no less than 40 minutes. I don't even work in Frankfurt. I work outside of it, but a few thousand other people commute to this same district each day as well, so what I'm doing isn't uncommon.

On the plus side, I've eaten paella Valenciana and Thai food this week, two things that would be way too exotic for the Swiss. Not to mention the Thai food was actually spicy! I've also found my new favorite store and the only place I will ever shop at ever again: Epiphany. A vintage place around the Zeil. I bought two dresses today and a top. Smiley face.

So there are some plus sides to this whole "big city" know, this is the first metropolitian city I've lived in? Exciting isn't it? Oh, the possibilities.

To Mrs. Coelho

Dear Mrs. Coelho,

This past weekend I traveled solo to Metz, Nancy and Doremey-la-Pucelle. It was a spur of the moment decision I had made the evening before.

It was sunny out the whole time, slightly breezy. Flowers had bloomed into a solid buttercup yellow in the countryside. though some fields were almost pure while.

I was able to practice my french the whole time as I can not remember meeting any native who could speak English or Spanish. I found myself in some tough situations where I couldn't get my ideas across. Not until I pulled out the French-English dictionary you gave me at Barnes and Noble before I left.

The dictionary was the first thing I packed for my weekend in France and I pulled it out at every chance!

The northern French were some of the most hospitable people I have ever met on my travels through Europe. Whenever I looked frustrated by the language barrier, I had at least three people trying to  figure out the problem and one looking for an English or Spanish speaker.

Oh, me and my little dictionary.

That being said, I needed to say thank you.

Also, my favorite location was Doremey-la-Pucelle. I spent the whole day between three museums, walking around the countryside, and the tiny village. My grandmother's family however many generations ago were from this region so it was on my list, especially now that I live as close as I ever will.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Last Day in My Swiss Home

My first big adventure of the day: buying my ticket into Deutchland--grand total of 92 CHF, with my half pass/after 7. Sent a second package back to the US for 77 CHF....less than I thought. So now all of my Swiss francs have disappeared. Ciao bellas.

Sat down to lunch at the Grotto with a few friends but the day was consumed with packing, cleaning, and organising.

I'm so nervous to leave Switzerland. The internship isn't what worries me, it's actually moving out of the country, doing an international move, on my own. Not to mention living in a place that uses the Euro...I don't know how I feel about that.

Switzerland just feels so secure. I'm not worried about traveling alone at night in this country, even with the amount of things I will be carrying, it's making sure I catch the train.

In Germany, I don't know what to worry about, if that makes sense...

With so many things on my mind and two finals tomorrow, I shouldn't be writing. I'll update soon though.

Favorite orchestral piece right now: Borodin's Steppes of Central Asia...bellisima

Monday, May 14, 2012

for travelers going from Italy to Switzerland...practical

A sensible bit of insiders info.

If your flight lands at Milan Malpensa, do take the Malpensa express bus from Milan to Switzerland instead of going from Milan Malpensa to Milan Centrale (train station), to Switzerland. You will save yourself many many hours and SO MUCH MONEY in the long run.

I have had way too many problems in Italy with the transportation alone that I really have no desire to go back at this point. (Yeah, I'm that girls that's crying in the station). I'm just too damn pampered with Swiss trains.

That being said. If you travel from Switzerland (assuming Lugano) to Milan (Centrale or Malpensa) just take the SBB train from Lugano (or other Swiss city) to Milan Centrale and from there, go outside and you will find the buses that take you to Milan Malpensa or Bergamo.

But there is really no need to go to Milan, just come to Switzerland. And there might be the added benefit that I can show you around.

excuse my grammer, punctuation, yada yada...

Sabbatical to Spain

Went to Barcelona this week---Wednesday through Saturday, or rather, the week before finals. My rationale: prep for Spanish and Macroecon finals.

Let me sell you on this one.

Not only did I practice my Spanish firsthand with native speakers, I did this getting my haircut, getting my legs waxed, and buying kiwi-coco-banana smoothies at the local grocers. While there, I increased my vocab...

Not only that, I slept on the beach for 8 hours on Friday. Ah, Friday. While my peers were scurrying to class (or drinking their brains out) in the sleepy hollow of Lugano, I closed my eyes and just listened. The sounds of the ocean, seagulls, ebbing waves, and Spaniard Spanish caught my attention. This is what I think of when I think of Barcelona. I lived the dream...while improving my listening skills. (Yes, listening on other conversations while lying topless counts toward the practice I needed for the listening portion of my upcoming final). The sun was intense, though I managed to stay awake for maybe an hour of my precious beach time.

Social skills: when a Pakistani approaches you, speaks fluent Spanish, and you scoot over so he can sit on your towel to have a nice chat. His family lives in the UK but he has been living in Spain for 15 years and his sister in the UK is an alcoholic and he can't find work. So what do you do when you're in this position? You go for long walks on the beach asking strangers how long they'll be in Barcelona for, apparently. Okay it sounds strange, but we really had a good heart to heart, right there on the beach...

And how much more culture could I have soaked up after drenching myself in  sunburn? Well, lucky me--Friday was also a local holiday, Fiesta de San Ponc! It celebrates Barcelona's patron saint and they sell locally cultivated honey all over the place. Honey comb, honey soap, lip balm, nuts in honey, fruit in honey, honey "grande", honey "pequena", creamed, oh it was marvelous! What else did they have, you ask? Lot's of herbs and different kinds of fruit soaked in syrups. Jams were popular was well. They had green and red cheries, oranges, mandarins, prunes, limes, lemons, but the peach was absolutely the best, however difficult to eat (it was served whole).

I only wish my dad could have gone to the market where I bought my smoothies so we could have explored the meat section...they had lamb heads with the eyeballs still crystal clear which I know he would have enjoy.

And as for the supposed "bailout" or whatever that Spain is said to need....not going to happen. All the British and Italian tourists will keep them breathing, for the summer at least.

Friday, May 4, 2012


This school is just not doing it for me. It is too small; Lugano is too small; it is too close to Italy; it's  not close enough to an airport; I don't have a strong interest in learning Italian.

There aren't any music programs at this school either. Yes, I took an academic music course last semester but that just doesn not cut it. I really need to play. Now that I think about it, there hasn't been a time since I began playing an instrument at age 5 when I completely stopped music. I've never been physically so far away from my instruments either! Most days, I would at least have my violin, piano, flute at home. Sometimes I would bring the horn or Mellophone home; if I didn't bring them home, I would practice after school....oh the evenings practicing Massenet's Meditation from Thais in the band room.

I guess the small environment can be fun, but there are just too many negatives for me to outweigh the positives. Most Franklin students would agree that it can be very nice to have such a familiar student body (we see most of eachother everyday..we are only 420 or so). But there's a point when familiar becomes too personal. You know, I complain about living down the hill, but I bet this is keeping me sane.

Not only that, I'm dealing with university applications. So many of them. I've already been rejected to the University of Lausanne (kind of expected though), although I was accepted to the American University of Beirut. I'm also considering just taking a year or semester off to figure out what I want to many options.

Still deciding on which other schools I'll apply to. I don't want to speak too quickly so I won't say anything.

I tried reconsidering UW, but I just know too many people there. It would be like high school. ew.

I can't be Swiss living in Wyoming. ;)

Catching you up since 21st March, 2012


I went to Brunnen Switzerland by myself one morning and made my own Swiss Army knife. It's a beautiful thing. (You know what else is beautiful? Traveling in Switzerland on weekends for the one and only dashing young Swiss Army. They come in German, French, AND Italian.) Hiked for hours through four or so towns, ate some Rosti mit Eier at the end of the day.

My good friend Glo (aka Gloria) and I took a day trip to the Principality of Liechtenstein. Now my life is complete! We did what we do best: get free stuff. We departed Lugano at 5:10 with our half passes but, being strictly efficient, a Swiss SBB member almost charged us 100CHF each for a one way ticket just to Zurich. I cried a little, thinking that I could have spent that money on another easyjet trip, while Gloria tried convincing the lady that we had traveled before at this hour for free. (Our half pass allows us to travel for free in Switzerland  until 5:00). We were lucky it was Easter weekend, or else the lady would not have let us off the hook and we would have been put in the SBB hall (or neatly organised office drawer) of Shame.

We managed to get to this Principality and did the tourist thing: museums, the royal castle (which was built some 600 years ago and the royal family today still lives there)...We also found a vineyard with free winetastings. After the tasting, Glo told me that the manager was speaking with another customer in german. He knew we had no intentions of buying, we just wanted to try the local stuff for free. It was a damp day so it was good to get out of the rain.

I really just don't enjoy school. I'm not doing anything I want, there's no end goal.

Went on another school sponcored wine tasting the next wednesday in Mendrisio...too much wine, too much cheese.

A few weekends later, I went on another school excurion. for a whole day, I biked with my friends through the Gotthard Pass--from Airolo to Biasca. Amost the whole trip was downhill; it was like I was freefalling the whole time. The Alps surrounded us and the different shades of green on the trees casted the most unusual shadows. I had a small bottle of Valais/Wallis that I could enjoy at rest stops. I am convinced that I have never been happier.