If you have never been to Switzerland, and you have the chance, DO IT!! It is beautiful, there is a crystal clear lake, mountains in the background, and Swiss chocolate stores every 1o feet. What more could you possibly want?? I went on a trip to Geneva, Switzerland earlier in my time here (October 2016), and now I finally have the time to write about it! It was a very impromptu trip, planned about two days in advance, and that planning consisted only of purchasing the necessary tickets to get to the destination and kind of/ sort of finding a place to stay. Not exactly my style of doing things, but it was a terrific success!
The thought of visiting Geneva had been something I wanted to do as soon as I arrived in Saint Etienne. Geneva is that odd little point of Switzerland that pokes into France, but still claims its Swiss citizenship. It is only 2.5 hours away by train and the beginning of the gorgeous Alps, who will always take my breath away. So when my friend Taylor proposed the spontaneous adventure, I thought “pourquoi pas?” And so it was decided! She had recently met two other people who had the travel itch also, and we formed an interesting group of people. Switzerland is known for its pricey lifestyle and being students, we wanted to attempt a not so expensive trip. For those experienced, you have probably heard of Couchsurfing. It is an awesome network of really amazing people who open up their homes to travelers for FREE. I know you are probably thinking what is the catch? There isn’t one! Seriously, these people do it simply for the opportunity to meet travelers and people from other cultures; it is all about making traveling more accessible for everyone. I had never tried it before and was a tad worried about staying in a stranger’s home. But there were 4 of us, 2 guys, so my kidnapping fear’s were calmed for the most part.
We left early Friday morning, taking the train from Saint Etienne to Geneva, and seeing many beautiful sights in between. Side note: I forgot my passport… But thanks to Europe for their extremely relaxed borders, as they didn’t even check when we passed into Switzerland! I did panic for quite a time on the train, worried they would send me back to France, but it went smoothly, and I will never forget my passport again!
Arriving in Geneva, the sun was shining, and we immediately found our way to the lake and river that runs through the city. The water was incredibly clear, and it was amazing to see the cleanliness of such a commercial city that truly cares for nature. The first day we mainly strolled around the city, finding little parks and nooks, anything that interested us at all!
When we had our fill of exploring for the afternoon, we began our adventure to the stranger’s home! The guy lived about 20 minutes outside Geneva by bus, in a really cool loft place with a DOG. He was a really laid-back guy, showing us his place and then just leaving us there because he had to go back to work for a little bit longer. We amused ourselves with his guitar and some games of twister. Later that night, we discovered that there were actually two other girls staying there, who didn’t know each other, through Couchsurfing. Our host had invited some friends over and made us all dinner! It was an amazing night of eating, playing card games, and laughing! We had 8 nationalities under one roof (Mexico, Columbia, Morocco, Egypt, America, Switzerland, France, and Czech)!!
The next day we explored the city more, finding this part that is called La Jonction, where two rivers meet but never fully merge. The distinction between the two is quite visible, and in person it is really cool to see the two mixing a little, but staying separate.
Before the trip, snacks and such had been bought since we knew it was expensive in Geneva, and it was really great to have something and not having to worry about finding an inexpensive place. We basically lived off of bread and nutella for breakfast and lunch for two days…
On our third and final day in Geneva, we found a place to hike that was actually in France, but you can take a public bus from Geneva to the bottom of the mountain. It was a very steep climb, that left me out of breath about the entire way up, but the view was worth it. And the wonderful sunshine that kept out the whole time, made everything more delightful.
If you have the chance to go to Switzerland, go! If you have the opportunity to Couchsurf, and feel comfortable doing it, do it! Trying new things and meeting new people is the purpose for study abroad! Take all your comfort zones and run as far away from them as you can, you will discover amazing things about yourself in return!