It’s hard to believe that I’ve already been here for almost two weeks! Nearly a fortnight ago I was sat on the sofa at home, fretting over suitcase weight limits and wondering whether I should sacrifice a couple of vest tops for a cuddly koala toy. Now, scary things like ‘residence permit’ and ‘What do you mean by 8 o’clock lectures?!’ are swirling around my newly French-ified brain.
Up until this past Friday, I hadn’t needed to go to my new university at all, so I decided to make the most of my free time by doing as many touristy things as possible. After arriving in my new home, I spent the first couple of days exploring the local area and attempting not to get squished by hazardous drivers and cyclists. At the weekend, however, I was lucky enough to snap up a lift from my landlord and go on a mini tour of Lake Geneva.
On Saturday we headed out of the city, leaving the autoroute for meandering hillside lanes bordered by vineyards. We stopped for lunch in the beautiful town of Chexbres, where I sampled my first Swiss Rösti and vowed to replicate the recipe (which I did unsuccessfully).
After lunch came the highlight of the day – the Chateau de Chillon. There’s no shortage of crumbly castles in North Wales, where I come from, but with the backdrop of the Alps and the surrounding waves of the lake, this was something else!
To finish, we headed to Lavey-les-Bains, of thermal baths fame. Here you can choose either an indoor or outdoor pool, depending on how brave you’re feeling! I plumped for swimming en plein air, because I’m just that wild (nah, because the temperature was actually 24 degrees).
Sunday should really be renamed as Day of Tumbleweed because nothing is open in Switzerland. Haven’t got anything in the cupboard for dinner? Then you’ll just have to starve! To be fair, there is a small supermarket at the train station and a handful of stores at the airport which stay open, but for lazy oafs like me it can be impractical. Luckily for me, the weather was perfect and we took to the lake. My hosts couldn’t believe that I’d never been in a yacht even though I live by the sea back home, so they were excited to give me my first taste of nautical life in Geneva.
After an exciting first weekend, I expected the following week to be a bit of a letdown, but instead it was just as fun! I vowed to explore my new city as much as possible, visiting everywhere from the Jardin botanique to the Natural History Museum a.k.a. the taxidermist’s paradise. I also hopped on the train to Lausanne for a gander, which was lovely.
Of course, the fun had to come to a (sort-of) end and Friday marked the start of the serious business of university. Although I’ve only had introductory lectures so far, everyone seems very friendly and I manage to get the gist of everything said, even if I don’t understand every word. I’ll keep you updated with all things study-wise!