Hellllo mes amies 🙂

It has  been a very busy week and while I love it here in Switzerland, apparently my sinuses do not andd they have decided it is a good time to get sick! Which sucks but hopefully I’ll be all better in a couple of days. Don’t worry Mom, a cold isn’t gonna kill me 😉

Anyway, this week has been a good one and a nice mix of relaxing and exploring which is good since this is my only week of vacation until I think April? I know we get a few days of at Easter. But this is my “March” Break and next week I start school which I am a little bit nervous for and also a little excited. But then again school is school is school wherever you go in the world. Either way, all part of the exchange experience.

On…I think it was Tuesday? Amen and I went to the United Nation’s Headquarters and took a tour. We did it in English so I could understand it well but the tour guide spoke weirdly and very very quietly so Amen didn’t get much of it unfortunately. Still, it was very interesting especially for me because of what I think I want to do in the future.

Also this week, I went to Zurich for two days, the biggest city in Suisse. It was a 3 1/2 hour drive but I didn’t mind a bit because where we were driving was so beautiful! It was crazy because you’d be driving through a tunnel and all of sudden come out over a valley, looking down not only on the fields and houses and sometimes lakes but also often on the clouds! Honestly the most bizarre but amazing thing! It was so beautiful and it was like you were looking at a model not a real place. Also cool was when the mountain right beside you is all green and fresh and the next one over is covered in snow! As we were driving I was reading Brave New World for English class and one of the characters said something that  loved and bookmarked because it seemed to fit my feelings right at the moment. “Who am I to be living in the visible presence of God?” How eloquent a description is that for a beautiful place? The visible proof of God. I don’t know, I liked it 🙂

Zurich itself was amazing too. So many old buildings and little cobblestone allies to explore and shops to look at. The waterfront had an absolutely incredible view and I took about a billion photos when we were there. The only slight damper on the trip was that I decided to wear shoes that as cute as they are, barely fit and ended up with blisters so bad I couldn’t walk by the end of the day. Oops :$ Thankfully, the next day a nice German pharmacist disinfected it for me and put a patch on it so I could enjoy the rest of my visit!

That reminds me, while I am here to learn French only part of Switzerland is French speaking. Zurich is mainly German and hardly anyone speaks French. In fact, a  couple times I had to help translate because tons of people speak English and would rather speak that than French. It was weirdddd. And I like the sound of German. It makes me laugh because it’s just so different from English or French.

Another awesome thing about Zurich was the cool place we went for dinner. It was a sushi restaurant where you sat and the food went around on this little track and then when you saw something you liked you just picked it up and the prices were coded by plate colour. So neat! I’d never really had sushi like as a meal, just tasted little bits but I loved it! Definitely have to go for sushi when I get home!

So yeah, the second day in Zurich it was raining a lot so we just rode around on the bus for a bit and watched the city go by and then went back to Geneva. That’s when I really started to feel sick, even though I’d had the sniffles for a couple days. So, after grocery shopping in France (totally normal right?)  we just hung out around the house and I slept for a longggg time. Today I’m feeling a bit better so hopefully I’ll be all better tomorrow! Today has just been hanging out reading, relaxing, blog writing, listening to Les Mis en francais and doing homework. I’m going to try reading one of Amen’s old books in French, part of the “La Cabane Magique” series that I used to read when I was younger too! So that’s about it from here. I like hearing about everything going on in Canada too like the GOLD medals, the success of the TSL dodgeball tournament and the snowday! Love all you guys, time to eat!

Bonjour tout le monde! So yesterday I finally arrived here in Geneva! Holy cow was it really just yesterday? It feels like a longer time ago. We left Toronto at around 6:45 and I smiled while Mom cried lol. :p I met some friends before we got on the plane and then met more when I sat down. Grace and Kate flew with me and it was simply perfect because Kate had had a similar situation as me and it was really comforting to know that I was not the only one whose exchange hadn’t gone perfectly. We were able to talk through our nerves about going to a family we hadn’t met…her situation was even more crazy because he only got her new partner last week AND it’s a guy! Anyway, the plane ride was good but I didn’t sleep at all because I couldn’t get comfortable. We each had our own tv screens where you could watch a movie or a tv show or the map of the trip or listen to music. It was so cool! The other girls laughed at me because I had never been on a plane like that. :p I watched Monster’s University, an episode of Modern Family and La Petite Sirène. (Happy Mallory?) I also stared out the window A LOT because for a long time there were no clouds and I could see the ocean. It was frozen but in some spots, there were hugggge cracks that spread out like trees roots and it looked beautiful. Also, I watched while we flew over the lights of Ireland and England which brought back good memories 🙂 We arrived in Paris just as the sun was rising, 7:30 local time which meant I was non-voluntarily pulling an all-nighter! I went through customs, got a stamp in my passport, bought a 5 euro bottle of water and boarded the flight to Geneva. I got a littttle bit of sleep on that one but woke up when the other students started ooo and ahhhing over the mountains we were passing! I got my luggage and then went to meet Amen and her parents, it was so cute they greeted me with a big bouquet of flowers and kisses on both cheeks! We went to their apartment which is beautifullll and I had a quick shower. Then we had lunch and Amen and I sat and chatted and she started teaching me to play piano. I’ve never realized just how terrible my French is until I got here because it’s driving me crazy not being able to say what I want to say as you all know I love to talk! I also feel bad because everyone has to repeat themselves over and over and over again! Ca la vie, I guess. Amen took me for a walk around the neighbourhood in the afternoon because I was falling asleep and showed me the school and the bus station and the everything else. Then we went out and had pizza for dinner and then FINALLY it was late enough that I could go to bed. I slept for 14 hours oh mon dior! As my new friend Diana said about  50 times today :p Okay this is getting really long and I want to go to beddd. So today Amen and I went out with her friends and went shopping and walked around and hung out. Her friends are really nice and funny and a bit weird but that’s okay because it reminded me of my friends haha! Sorry guys. 🙂 When they were all talking really fast I couldn’t understand a lot but I liked to just listen and they tried to explain thing slower for me sometimes. One of Amen’s friends, Yandira or just Ira has a birthday two days before mine so she said we should celebrate them together 🙂 Geneva is beautifullll like I can’t even explain. Literally every direction you look, you see mountains. And while there are some newer buildings there are also the older European style ones which is cool. We took a boat ride on Lac Léman and I could see the mountains well from there. It’s strange because there’s snow on the mountains but not on the ground. Also! I bought my first Starbucks here and guess how much? 6.70 CH, the equivalent of like $9 for a grande Chai latte! C’est tres fou! And We realized that Amen is reading “Le meilleur des mondes” for her french class, the french version of “A Brave New World” which I have to read for english. I guess there are some things you can’t avoid no matter what language you speak 😉 There’s probably a lot more I could write but I’m tired and my laptop is going to die so cho cho or au revoir for now!

Packing Is Like A Puzzle

With a limited amount of space and a weight limit of a mere 50 pounds, I’m finding it really difficult to decide what to take with me to Switzerland. Of course there are things that are necessary but then there are questions like “How many pairs of shoes can I take?” “Is this too heavy?” “Do I really need this?” “What if (insert random event) happens and I need (insert probably unnecessary item) ” and the most important one of all, “Sir, please don’t make me take that textbook!”

Seriously, how do I pick what I’m going to wear for the next three months??? Not to mention, this is the first time since grade 8 that I will not being wearing a uniform to school which means the added pressure of trying to pick an outfit everyday. At least at this point, my to-do list is pretty much completely finished and I can actually start putting things into my suitcase rather than spreading haphazardly around my room.The worst part though is that every time I put something in the bag, I end up wanting to use it/wear it and it comes right back out. Oops :p haha #SamProblems

So now I am faced with the task of fitting all my stuff into the bag and keeping it underweight. It really does feel like a puzzle, trying to see where everything is going to fit in and hoping I have all the pieces. Prices are crazily expensive in Switzerland and I don’t want to forget stuff and have to buy it there. Like for example, I’ve heard from other exchange students that an eye-liner pencil can is about 18 francs while a coffee is minimum 6 francs. And since 1 franc is equal to $1.30 Canadian, that is a lotttt of money. I actually found out that Geneva is the 4th most expensive city in the world! Which should be an interesting experience for me, one of the most frugal people I know!

All that aside, it’s finally starting to feel real that I’m leaving although I don’t think it will fully sink in until I’m sitting on the plane. I wish the 15th would just hurry up and get here. Oh something exciting I found out is that the week I get to Switzerland they have their winter sport break so no school! I’m not sure what my family had planned for that week but I’m sure it will be fun! Weeee as of right now, there are 8 days, 23 hours and 8 minutes until my plane takes off!

Lists, Countdowns and Surprises Oh My!

The countdown is on! Actually it’s been on for quite a while but now that the app on my phone reads only 12 more days, it’s finally starting to hit me. I am actually going to “Suisse” for three months next Saturday! The list of things I have to buy or do is slowly getting smaller and smaller as Mom and I rush around trying to get everything done between school, work and church. From mundane things such shampoo, conditioner and new socks to others that are more interesting and exciting like buying a European wall charger, changing Canadian dollars into Swiss Francs and getting a new travel journal. We also picked out gifts for me to take to Amen and her family, a stuffed Olympic moose for her, a hockey shirt for her brother and coasters and maple tea for her parents. Amen also asked if I could bring her maple cookies so I will have to pick some of those up! The items are piling up on the folded down futon in my room, waiting patiently to be squished together into my suitcase as I pray I stay under the 50 pound limit! I don’t know how on earth I am going to decide what clothes I want to take and wear for the next three months.

A few weeks ago I went to the pre-departure meeting with ISE at the school board. They gave us tips about packing, going to school in our host countries and getting used to living with our partner’s family. Emma and I couldn’t help but whisper the whole time,, earning us a few dirty looks from Mom. We also received our oh so attractive yellow ISE backpacks, our mandatory carry-on piece as well as an even hotter passport pouch which we are required to wear around our necks during travel. Dannnng we are going to look good 😉 In seriousness, we actually were excited to get our final travel details. Turns out I’ll be having a stop over in Paris before changing flights and carrying on to Geneva! Even better, on the way home my Swiss group is meeting up with Emma’s France group and we are flying home together! Although I’m not a huge fan of flying, I’m sure it will be fun because I will be with a huge group of exchange students.

I’ve been practising my French as much as I can lately, with Memrise and Duolingo so hopefully I will be able to communicate well with people in Suisse! I’ve also been talking to Amen and I’m glad she is my new partner. She is very outgoing and friendly and I am not nervous about going to stay with her which I am grateful for. We talk not every day but every few and that also helps my French.

So much to write! This is what happens when I slack off on blog writing hehe. I’m totally committed to posting at least once a week while I am away though, with pictures to keep my friends and family back home up to date! So anyway, another thing is that yesterday Mom and Mal threw me a surprise early birthday/going away party. I kind of suspected they were planning something due to a series of suspicious events however I hadn’t expected it to be so soon before I was leaving so I was very surprised! I came in the door, arms full of bags and they were behind the door. I actually screamed because they scared me! I guess Mal didn’t organize it properly/know how to work Facebook events so there were only a few people but it was a nice size and we all just sat at  the kitchen table and chatted. People popped in and out as well. So, if you are somehow reading this, thanks to Mom, Mal, Hugh, Victoria, Moriah, Lauren, Alex, Alannah, Amy, Laura, Griffin and Shanna for being there 🙂 On a similar note, it’s so strange celebrating my birthday so early, getting presents nearly a month before the actual day because I will be away in March.

I am getting tired. It is after midnight and tomorrow is the first day back to school after exams, the start of a new semester. I have a spare, English, French and Religion, easy because I will be away for most of the semester. I’ll have to confirm with my teachers this week what they want me to do while I am away. These two weeks will be difficult to focus on anything in class…I’ll have trip on the brain!

Guess this is good-by for now, hopefully the next time I post I will have a least had a start on packing….enjoy some pictures below of various bits of packing and trip paraphernalia. Oh and my new Converse because I simply love them and want to share them with the world haha. Au revoir cyberspace

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