Exhausted, elated, and simultaneously overwhelmed, I made it to Switzerland. A thrilling adventure in a place so far from the comforts of my family and friends, this semester has been a whirlwind already! It’s so hard to fathom the thought that I’ve been here in Fribourg for over a month now… Needless to say, my blog posts have been confined to my journal for the past few weeks, but now marks the turning point — in the following few paragraphs you will find an update on the many whimsical and wonderful peculiarities of Switzerland that have been revealed to me thus far, with a promise for more frequent updates in the near future! 🙂
After several visa issues, I was wondering whether I would ever make it to the elusive “study abroad semester” that had been on the horizon for four years. When I finally stepped off the plane in Geneva, I was welcomed with the French “Bienvenue!” and it hit me… I had made it to Switzerland.
For years I had been studying the French language with dreams of one day being able to speak like a native. Now was my chance! What was an initial sense of thrill quickly turned into terror when I realized speaking French proficiently is not as simple as it appears. Nevertheless, I am determined to abandon my fears and immerse myself in the cultures and customs of this beautiful country.
During the first three weeks that I was here, I was enrolled in a French intensive course at The University of Fribourg. During the course we were taught “How to be Swiss.”
Rule 1: Do NOT jaywalk. It will result in a fine from the police and there is a high likelihood that you will be run over. That being said, if you do cross at the “passage piéton”(aka crosswalk) the cars will stop for you, even though it may seem like they won’t.
Rule 2: You have to use the prescribed garbage sack to dispose of your trash. For instance, my apartment is in the town of Givisiez and we have to buy “Givi’sacs” for our trash. Key word: buy (if you didn’t already know, Switzerland is expensive).
Rule 3: Quiet and peaceful living is a lifestyle here — and you must not disturb this lifestyle. The quiet hours from 10 P.M. – 7 A.M. are strictly enforced and it is even recommended that you not flush the toilet or take a shower during this time. It is also considered “disturbing the peace” and is a fineable offense if you decide to do your recycling during these hours or on a Sunday. The clinking of the glass bottles against the metal tin of the recycling bins is just too bothersome, I suppose.
Rule 4: Cheese is a staple. As is chocolate (usually of the milk variety). As is bread. It is a part of life, so accept it. That being said — expect to see cows often.
Rule 5: BE ON TIME. No exceptions. The bus will leave you. The class will start without you. It is a fact. Remember — Switzerland is the land of watches after all.
Given these 5 rules, you can expect to get along fairly well in this peaceful land blanketed by mountains and brimming with beauty. Stay tuned for my next post on the various adventures I’ve undergone in the area in and around Fribourg. From experiencing the famous “Désalpes “celebration in Plaffeien, to stand-up paddle boarding on Lake Morat, to my first encounter with fondue moitié-motié, there is much to look forward to! 🙂
À toute à l’heure!