Switzerland: Younger than Springtime

“It’s springtime…with Hitler…in Germany…” Okay, maybe I’m not in a scene from The Producers, and maybe Hitler isn’t around, and maybe I’m not in Germany, but it is springtime. Finally. The flowers are beginning to bloom, the grass is becoming greener on all sides, people are planting gardens, and my freckles are beginning to pop out. It’s in the 50’s and 60’s all week long, meaning that my bike rides to and from school are becoming more bearable.

With the coming of springtime, it seems I’ve been bit by the travel bug, and there is no cure. (Except for maybe more cowbell.) A couple of weeks ago, I went on a hike about two hours away from Fribourg to a small lake called Blausee, which I believe means ‘blue lake’ in German. (It’s more of a pond, really, but let’s keep that between ourselves.) The water was crystalline blue, and the mermaid statue peeking up at me only made it more majestic. (Until I learned that the statue had been created in honor of a young girl who had drowned in the lake. Then the sculpture wasn’t so endearing.)

The following week, I was invited to an Erasmus Student Network raclette party, where my friend Kevin from Valais (he is so proud of his origins that his name cannot simply be ‘Kevin’) brought us cheese from his home region, heated it with a special machine, and then scraped it all over my very willing plate. (Raclette is a very popular dish in Switzerland, which requires melting a half-round of cheese and then scraping bits of it onto cooked potatoes.) Thankfully, I’m still doing my boxing class, so I have a right (nay, a responsibility) to eat all the cheese I want. In boxing class, my instructor says I am making prrrrrrrrrrogrès (I believe he’s from Spain, so he likes to roll his r’s), and I’ve already bought my plane ticket for the next Olympic trials.

This past week, I skipped a couple of days of schools—not for pleasure, but to go to France to pass my English teacher’s exam. Unfortunately, it was every bit as horrific as one might imagine. My bus from Fribourg was almost an hour late picking me up, and I was worried that it wouldn’t even come at all. Once in Lyon, France, I had to wake up at five in the morning to take a train to Roanne for the exam, only to discover that the whole ‘you have to be an hour early to the testing center’ really wasn’t necessary. After two days and ten hours of testing—and bemoaning the fact that I couldn’t, for the life of me, remember the word for ‘tapestry’ in French (it is tapisserie, for those who are wondering)—I was finally finished. It was an exhausting yet enriching experience, as I got to meet English teachers from anywhere from America, to Algeria, to the l’Île Maurice. After my first day of testing, I went to the mall for some spring clothes’ shopping; and after my second day, it was straight to the airport to catch a plane to Poland.

My weekend in Cracovie, Poland, was much too short, but I was thrilled that I could see my friend, who is pursuing her Master’s degree at the university there. I arrived at the Cracovie airport at around 11:30 p.m. that Friday night, and as I do not speak a lick of Polish, I hadn’t the slightest idea of how to buy a train ticket. After randomly pushing buttons for a solid ten minutes, a young couple came to my aid, and I bought a ticket for the city, where I met up with my friend. The rest of the weekend was fairly uneventful, as we did more catching up than sight-seeing or exploring; but it was a sunny 75 degrees, I was with my friend, and there was ice cream. Lots of ice cream.

The following Monday, I got back into Fribourg thirty minutes before my first class, giving me just enough time to throw my things in my room and then bike off to the university. Let me tell you, boxing class that night was rather difficult, but I prevailed.

Last night, I went to a curry-tasting party, and naturally, to make up on my carb loss from the night before, I went up for seconds.

“Didn’t you already have some?” one of the workers asked.

“Yes,” I nodded. “But they said I could have more.”

“Is that even allowed?” he whispered to his colleague.

Who cares if it was allowed? I shot him a look so chockful of daggers that it was impossible for him to refuse me. Seconds away!

With our Easter vacation only one week away, I’m trying to force myself into academic mode, meaning that I’m spending a tad more time at the library. For example, I went to the library today to check out some books for my Swiss literature class, but as it turned out, fate was not on my side. One book I wanted had been mysteriously lost, and the second? Well, the pages were still stuck together from the publisher’s house. Although the book had been published in the 1960’s, it had yet to be read. It just goes to show how much the Swiss appreciate their home literature…

Oh…and did I mention that there’s a film festival going on in Fribourg? Maybe I’ll go tomorrow, if I manage to find a film that isn’t in Japanese…

À plus dans le bus!

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