/32/ Letter from Switzerland

A few days ago I wrote this letter to a friend of mine, and it seemed to me like a great thing to post on the blog.
I arrived yesterday in Switzerland after a relatively short, sleepless night and a long day of travelling. The people I’m staying with are a couple in their late thirties, and the boyfriend (W) met me at the airport. The girlfriend (V) is away until Tuesday but W’s brother is visiting with his family. We came home to their charming little chalet, and after a short stroll around the countryside (rolling hills, red-roofed cottages, a stream running through the woods, a glimpse of Lake Geneva in the distance, and a bit further, the peak of the tallest mountain in Europe poking through the clouds) I met the family. W’s nieces are ten and five, and they’re really sweet. Within ten minutes of meeting them, the younger of the two had drawn me a picture of mountains with multi-coloured snow and a massive Sun. I sat down with the girls and we spent the next half hour or so drawing. I felt in my element – I’m far more comfortable around children than adults!

Le jardin – The Garden

W doesn’t speak much English and, apart from his sister-in-law, everyone pretty much only speaks French so I’ve had the chance to practice, practice, practice which I love. (I think his English is actually very good, but I’m not going to complain about free French lessons!) I can’t always follow what’s going on, though usually I know the topic of conversation. When I join in, everyone listens and tries hard to understand me, and equally when someone speaks to me they speak clearly but not patronisingly, which is perfect. The girls just babble away but I’m cool with that. After dinner we played Monopoly. By that time I was so tired I was just about ready to fall off my chair, so I lost happily and went to bed.

Ce que j’ai lu / What I read (Maurice by E. M. Forster, I give it 3/5 for quality, 4/5 for enjoyment)

On Monday, I start my internship at the IUCN. V works there, but as I said, she’s not there for a few days so I had to make my own arrangements for getting to work on Monday. Making a phone call to a colleague who’d told V she could give me a lift was pretty daunting. Speaking one-on-one, in person to someone in French is hard enough but phone calls are much harder. Nevertheless I got it sorted and have a lift! Yay! My work, as far as I understand, will consist of chasing up scientists around the world to send us articles about what they’ve been up to the last year. I’m working in the Marine and Polar Programme and will be producing a glossy newsletter/magazine showcasing the work of the Programme, picking up from where a previous intern left off. In addition to chasing up the articles, I have to edit them to make sure they are readable, and find and organise the photo library of the department. I hope for cute baby seals and impressive icebergs, but it’ll probably be pictures of various types of seaweed and some minnows.

IMG_9983 La cuisine / The kitchen

During the weekends I’ll take little trips around Switzerland. I really want to see the astounding baroque library at St Gallen, as well as Lausanne and Geneva which are nearby. After the internship is over, Shawnee and I are inter-railing around Switzerland for a week. I think I’m most excited about the UNESCO World Heritage railway between Chur and St Moritz (if you think I’m a railway geek, look at this and try to tell me you don’t want to go), but also I’m pretty psyched about visiting Grindelwald, mainly because of the Harry Potter connotations but also because that area is supposed to be stunning. The one thing which I really want to do but probably won’t be able to do is see the Aletsch glacier. It’s very difficult to get to and I have limited resources and time, but I guess I can just do that the next time I come! Other things on the “next-time” list include seeing the Reichenbach falls where Sherlock fell to his [temporary] doom, crossing the Swiss-German border on Lake Constance, and visiting my Grandma’s favourite lake on the border to Italy, the Lago Maggiore.

Ma vue / My view (check out my instagram for more)

On return from Switzerland I have five or six hectic days to sort my whole life out, get back my deposit for my house, finish my student finance application (I’ve not got it yet because my mother can’t be registered as my mother – because she’s down as being male WHAT THE HELL), sort out what the hell I’m doing in Berlin (it’s still not settled because German’s aren’t as organised as everyone says they are), pack for the crazy year abroad, and hopefully squeeze in some quality family time.
In planning this year, I seem to have forgotten factoring in a break. I’ve had literally two weeks off this year, and it’s halfway through August. And by “off” I mean not working either at Uni, a job, or an internship. I shouldn’t complain, and I’m not really, but it is tiring and I know when I get to Berlin I’m going to try to slow down a little.

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