Switzerland: They like me! They really like me!

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This week has been an especially busy week in the Land of Chocolate, and I’m doing my best to “just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.” Last weekend was Carnival in Fribourg, meaning that people select the wackiest, most outrageous costumes, parade around the streets, listen to off-key bands, eat, and of course, drink. In Fribourg, their parade starts on a Sunday at 2:39p.m. Don’t ask me why that is. The locals can’t even tell me. They also have a giant paper man, which represents all the evils of the winter, which they burn in the street. Violent, I know. I walked around Carnival for a bit last weekend and had a couple of drinks, but honestly, there was too much homework to be done for me to fully partake. Who goes out and parties until 5a.m. on a Monday night?! Apparently, people in Fribourg do…

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On Monday night, instead of going to the bars, I attempted two hours of boxing class, which I’d decided I’d try for kicks and giggles. It was exhausting, and there weren’t nearly as many boys as I had been hoping (it was very female-dominated…like everything in life). On Tuesday, the night of the biggest party for Carnival, I had my theatre group, and when I stepped out of the university, it was snowing/raining, so that by the time I biked home, there was no going back out. Je m’appelle Madame Lame.

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On Wednesday, I attended an apero hour/reggae-rock concert. I arrived at 6:30p.m. (I was one of the first to arrive), and didn’t leave until about two in the morning. Why, you might ask? Because I was making friends! I met people from Turkey, Germany, England… And I was surprised to find that unlike the people in France, these people were not afraid to talk to me. We talked about the cultural delicacy of a kebab and how Greek yogurt isn’t actually Greek, as well as the importance of language and dialect preservation. Who knew that the German that is spoken in Switzerland is very unlike the German of Germany? Not me.

The next day was a struggle, but after ramping up my energy with my Zumba class, I was invited to a friendly dinner for a degustation of blood sausage (yes, this is exactly what it sounds like: sausage made with blood) on pasta with applesauce; and for dessert, meringues with double cream. The blood sausage was surprisingly delicious, and the double cream was just as fattening as you may imagine. It wasn’t quite pudding, it wasn’t quite yogurt… You’ll just have to try that one for yourself.

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On Friday, I took a mini-vacation to Bern, and as my luck would have it, I witnessed their Carnival’s opening day. Instead of burning a paper man, however, Bernese people release a ‘bear’, a man dressed up in a bear costume who storms about on a balcony. The reason for this tradition is slightly more apparent than 2:39p.m. There is actually a live bear that lives in Bern, but as he was in hibernation, I didn’t get to say hello.

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Instead of trying Bernese food for lunch, I gorged on McDonald’s fires which were coated with bacon and hot, melty cheese. Why don’t they sell this in the United States??? After visiting the apartment where Albert Einstein lived for several years, I also went to the Albert Einstein museum, where I learned that besides being a genius, he was also quite the ladies’ man. And he even married his cousin. Unfortunately, while in the museum, I got locked inside a stairwell. It had been marked ‘exit’, but when I tried to get back out, I was trapped. Thankfully, after banging on the door for several minutes, a confused lady let me back in. “What are you doing here?” Good question.

On Saturday, I took a train to Zurich to join up with the Erasmus Student Network, an organization which organizes excursions and events for Erasmus (or exchange students). After taking a walking tour of the city and trying a burger with peanut butter and coconut, we started a pub crawl at 8p.m. I decided to only stay until 11p.m. because my only other option would be to take the earliest train the following morning…at 5a.m. I value my sleep too much, so no thank you!

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This week, I have more parties, dinners, and fondue excursions to look forward to! Can you believe that people are inviting me to do things here? They like me, they really like me! Hopefully, my wallet won’t explode…I’m about ready to sell a kidney.

À plus dans le bus!

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