Back in the Land of Maple Syrup

Home sweet home! Sorry for the post delay, I wanted to have pictures but had temporarily “lost” my phone (it was on my chair in my French class duh)

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                                         Reunited with my baby sissy ❤

So as most of you probably know, I have now been back in Canada for just over a week and am not quite sure how I feel about it. As happy as a I was to see everyone, I really, really miss my friends and family in Switzerland. I miss speaking French so much. I love to think in French now as much as I can which means I accidentally start responding in French to my family sometimes. Why does English sound so harsh now? 😦 And speaking of French, I can now see just how sad and pathetic our language courses are in Canada and it’s horrible because now I have such a passion for the language and want to learn and improve and my class watched an English movie today that had zero relevance to our class. I wasn’t impressed.

Sorry, end of rant…for now 😉 #strongopinions

I was also super excited to get Benny Lewis' new book! Check out his awesome language learning blog of the same name!
I was also super excited to get Benny Lewis’ new book! Check out his awesome language learning blog of the same name!

So last week I flew home with a whole ton of other exchange students and although it was an extremely long and tiring day it actually was quite fun. The entire back of the plane was other returning exchange students and I had a group of fabulous friends that I sat with (5 to 4 seats much to the stewardess chagrin haha). There were games of life, lots of pictures, checking out cute (and very weird) boys, Franglish, laughing and generally being loud and obnoxious followed by reunions with our familys and friends. What more could ya want?

My first day home was wonderful too. Two of my bestest friends showed up and surprised me while I was still in bed so I talked their ears off for a while, got some Timmie’s and Thai, hung out with another bestest friend, bumped into a billion (okay it was four) people at Chapters, went to movie with my Marmee and sister and was jet-lagged yay! (The last part sucked. Jet-leg and I are not friends.)

So basically, I’ve just been trying to settle back into life here, catch up with friends, catch up with SCHOOL (send help) and trying not to miss Suisse toooo much. I also have to figure out what I’m going to blog about now!

This is unrelated but  I learned a new hair thing
This is unrelated but I learned a new hair thing

Late Night Thoughts and Thanks

One last Sunday afternoon roadtrip
One last Sunday afternoon roadtrip

To the teenage boy I saw full out singing along to the radio on the highway today, who smiled and waved and kept singing when he caught me staring, thank you. You made my day a little bit brighter. I think we all might be happier if we were that carefree. And you made me think of this video

Thanks to Amen for making me smile by trying to plan a surprise party that fell apart at the last minute. I know you felt terrible because you wanted my last free day to be great. It was anyway. You’re absolutely the sweetest and I can’t believe we have to say good-bye soon. You’ve made my exchange absolutely incredible.

Thanks to my host dad for saving the day and taking us for one last road trip and picnic today. You are always doing things for other people.

Thanks to my host mom for making packing just a little bit easier and not making me do it all alone. You’ve made me feel so at home these last few months

Best host family ever!
Best host family ever!

To my Marmee, thanks for getting my room ready for me to come home and just for being great, you’re the best. I can’t wait to hug you when I get home.

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To my Daddy, I couldn’t find any recent pictures of us but I wanted to thank you for giving me diverse interests and adventures growing up. Because of you I enjoyed museums and train rides here more than the average kid haha. Oh and thanks for holding shopping bags for us girls 🙂

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Mallory, my little sister, expect a running tackle hug when I get home. I’ve missed you more than anyone

My non-twin twin <3
My non-twin twin ❤

To my amazing friends who have keep me in touch with life back home and made sure I knew how much I was missed, seeing you all is one of the only things making leaving Switzerland less sad. To the other exchange students, it was amazing to always have someone to talk to who understood what I was experiencing. It was so much fun laughing and bonding over all our #exchangestudentproblems. And to the friends I’ve made here, you will never be forgotten. Thanks for not laughing at me when I couldn’t say what I wanted to say and making me feel welcome.

 

Thanks to the ladies in city centre giving out “free hugs”. You made a lot of people laugh and smile

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And to God for making such an incredible, diverse world and letting me experience it. I handed this whole experience over to You back in August trusting that You would work it out and You did. Thank you for your faithfulness. Because of You I never felt lonely.

He is an amazing artist
He is an amazing artist

So many people in my life that I’m so grateful for, I’m lucky to be so blessed. Tonight I finished packing to go home and I was really sad but I decided to look at the good rather than the bad. I couldn’t sleep so I decided to write and this is what I ended up with.

 

 

 

Spring in Suisse

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Normally, I would say spring is my least favourite season. I might even go as far as to say I hate it. But Canadian spring is not like it is here. In Canada, spring is wet and muddy and cold and gray. The snow melts and then we get more. And then you start to see grass and the next morning it’s covered in frost. We kind of skip over any kind of nice springtime and head straight to summer by the time the weather warms up. Spring here in Switzerland is the kind of spring Canadians dream of. It’s warm (most days at least) and sunny and you can see the regrowth everywhere. It’s fresh, it’s full of new life and it just makes you happy because everywhere you turn there are flowers blooming and trees budding and literally birds singing all the time. Walking to school is like walking through a rainbow, the blue sky, the green grass and trees and flowers in yellow, purple, pink, orange and white. Add in the mountains in the background and the old looking houses with iron gates and I feel like I’m in a fairytale. All. The. Time. Nope, actually scratch that, Heidi. I feel like I’m in Heidi. I’ve always associated mountains with that story. #BookwormProblems (By the way if you haven’t read Heidi, go read it. It’s by Johanna Spyri and it’s a classic, wonderful book)

Suffis to say, the weather has been amazing and I’ve spent countless hours reading out on the back porch (in French of course!) and going for long walks in the sunshine. Even this weekend when it rained I didn’t really mind because spring rain is a special kind of rain which much to Amen’s chagrin, I love! The sound of it hitting the ground and the roof, the warm earthy smell, the warm, humid air after it stops is just wonderful. And again, much to the shock of my host family I went for a walk, in the rain. I can’t explain exactly why  I love it but it’s like the earth is getting refreshed and I am too you know? I’m not sure if that even makes sense. Overall, what I’m trying to say is that I’m loving spring.

Image The view from the balcony

This weekend I went to the Geneva Museum of Natural History with Amen and the did a little bit of shopping on Saturday. On Sunday I went to the Botanical Gardens which were amazing. I only got to see part of them so I am definitely hoping to go back. I took so many pictures! Also today, I went for a run/power walk which I know will be a shock for everyone who knows how lazy I am. But seriously, with a view like this, how can you complain?

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Believe or not, this is right in the middle of Geneva, the second largest city in the country. I discovered it completely by luck, walking straight out of a residential area into what appears to be the middle of nowhere!

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So, to sum it all up, it’s been a good week. Here are some of my favourite pictures. I hope you’re having a lovely day, until next time my friends 🙂

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Museum of Natural History

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Central Park and Botanical Gardens 

 

20 Differences Between School in Canada and Switzerland

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Hello everyone! Today I am writing about all the things I’ve noticed that are different about high school ( or collège ) in Switzerland than they are in Canada. I’m obviously not going to explain the entire schooling system because it’s very different from ours and a bit complicated (it’s taken me this long to get it all straight) but there are some very obvious dfferences! Sorry if it’s pretty random, I’m just writing them as I remember. Also, none of these things are meant to be negative. Different doesn’t mean better or worse,  just…different! 🙂

1. Number one is the reason I’m sitting in my bedroom on a Thursday morning at 11 am writing this blog post! Forget supply teachers, if a teacher is sick, class is cancelled and the students are free to study in the library, go home or really do whatever they want. No French class for me today!

2. So that last sentence was a lie, I actually have FOUR hours of French on Thursdays so I only got out of two. Why only on Thursdays? Because in Switzerland, your “program” changes everyday. Unlike in Canada where (if you go to a semester school like me) you have 4 classes at the same time everyday for 5 months, in Switzerland, you have different classes everyday of the week! It can be pretty confusing. For example, On Mondays I have art, history, French and English. Then I’m done with art and history for the week! Thursdays to contrast are English, French, Gym and French. (I have French almost everyday “yay”)

3. HALF DAY WEDNESDAYS. The absolute best thing about school here. At 11:30 on Wednesday, school is over and all the students are freeeee! It’s actually great because it’s like you start school on Monday and then it’s only two days until Wednesday. and after Wednesday, it’s only two days until the weekend! It make the school week that much more bearable.

4. Long hours. Enough said. No thank you, I would like to finish school before 4:30 in the afternoon. However, because of the changing programs, you can sometimes get out at 2:30, or not start until 10. My program however sucks and I don’t get any of that. I just love having more classes than my exchange partner! *not*

5. The actual school itself. Obviously not all schools are the same here or in Canada, so this is a direct comparison between JOA and Saussure. My collège here is pretty strange for me. Basically, if you disconnected all the hallways in JOA and stacked them on on top of the other, stuck the cafeteria underneath and the gym underground, you would have an idea of what Saussure is like. It is in total, 8 stories high and you can take the stairs or use the student elevators (just don’t use the teacher one by accident like I did, oops!) There are 4 gyms, and the library takes up most of the 3rd floor. It’s very different and easy to forget what floor you are on as they all look very much the same.

6. Gym class is taken so much more seriously here. Like I’ve been climbing ropes, doing handstands off a meter high board, flips, and balance beams and swinging on loops hanging from the ceiling. Cause we’re all gymnasts right? Also, it’s obligatory for all four years of school. Here are some pictures of my class.

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6. Speaking of obligatory, the kids here basically have no choice in what classes they take. You choose between German, Art or Music and you can pick Spanish or Italian. That’s really the extent of it. Enjoy chem, physics, math, english, french, geography, history etc for all four years. Collège itself however isn’t mandatory however and you have to have certain grades to get into high school. Otherwise, you can go straight into the workforce, get an apprenticeship etc.

7. You start/finish school one year later. I’m in a third year English class and they are all 17 and 18 (as opposed to 16/17 year old gr. 11’s in Canada)

8. You are with the same class all day, everyday. While the program changes everyday, the kids in your classes do not. With the few exceptions of art or Spanish (one of the few options) you are with the same group of students for every class for the entire year, much like elementry school. This makes catching up if you’re away easier I guess but if you aren’t in the same class as your friends it could be pretty sucky. There’s also the issue of gender imbalance as Amen’s class has only three guys in it and her friend’s has only 3 girls…who made these classes???

9. The marking system is odd as well. No precentages, you get a “note” between 1 and 6. Why 6? I have no idea. But you can only get a whole number or a half number. For example, you can get a 4 or a 4.5 not like a 4.8 or something. Strange but I guess it works for them. Oh and there’s no credits so you either pass or fail the entire year. About 40% of students repeat the last year at least once!

10. I know I already said gym was super serious, but honestly all the classes are. These kids do homework all night, every night, the workload is seriously crazy. If I ever hear anyone at JOA complain again…

11. Teachers are way more respected and have a lot more…authority I guess you would say. You would never talk back to a teacher here. All the kids sit quietly and listen and don’t talk in class. If you are talking, the teacher can just tell you to get out, I’ve seen it happen. In Canada, a lot of us (depending on the teacher obviously) are almost friends with the teachers, you can joke around with some of them and have fun in the class. There is definitely none of that here. It’s really strange. The only teacher I’ve meet here even close to acting like a teacher back home is my English teacher who I really like. The rest are very…cold I guess is a good way to put it towards the students and the students treat them extremely respectfully. Teachers show up 5- 10 minutes late all the time too and the class just waits but if you are late, the prof doesn’t have to let you in. Also, my French teacher looks exactly like John from Lost. That is all.

12. This is pretty irrelevant but they don’t really ever use lined paper. It’s all graph paper. And it (the binders) have only two holes, close together in the middle. As I said, irrelevant but still something I noticed.

13. Almost everyone smokes. I hate it. But there are little balconies on either side of the building on every floor specifically for that. It’s also legal to smoke and drink at 16, just thought I’d add that. But you have to be 18 to drive so haha!

14. No lockers. There are a few but they are less then a square foot and you have to pay to use them.

15. Because there are no lockers as mentioned, the walls are bare (okay not bare, they’re actually covered in student paintings which is cool) and so everyone just sits down in the hall. People walking just step over/around. It’s completely normal for an entire class to just be chilling on the floor outside the class.

16. “Poses”. I love this. Halfway through class, a bell rings and everyone gets up and leaves for a few minutes to get a drink, use the bathroom etc. It’s great because you get a nice little break. However, because of that, you can’t ask to leave in class for anything, you have to wait for the pose. AND THE BELL IS LIKE IN GREASE. Sorry, side note. The bell is like ding, ding, ding! Just like in the movie Grease when the principal wanted to make an announcement! Anyway, I like that.

17. No uniform! This only applies for Canadian Catholics school kids like me but is still awesome enough to mention!

18. The caf sells fresh pastries. Enough said #painauchocolate

19. PDA is over the top. Ew.

20. And finallllly. Everything is in French! Shocker! Sorry, I just didn’t want to have an uneven number of facts :p

So that’s about all I can think of for the moment, although I’m sure I’m missing some. Some of these differences are big and some of them aren’t, some are probably specific for JOA or Saussure and some could probably relate to every exchange student. Overall, school here has a very different atmosphere. Much more serious and in some ways I think students here have less freedom than back home. I know this was a longgggg post and some of it probably wasn’t very interesting…and no pretty pictures, sorry ’bout that! I’m still new to this blogging thing! Hopefully you made it that far and are left feeling grateful for the education you got/are getting because that’s what being here has made me! While I really like being here and school is interesting for a few months, I miss JOA and have come to appreciate the school system back home a lot. We have a lot of choice and are more allowed to be individuals.

Anyway, that’s the end! I’ve got to get back for gym class soon, pray I don’t break anything! Also shoutout to my sister for being awesome! If you’re reading this, I miss and love you a lot Mal! Have been thinking about you today and how proud I am to call you my little sis! Can’t wait to get back to our Thursday night sister dates, annoying each other, talking about life and forcing you to hug me 🙂

Hope everyone has a great day today 🙂

P.S. I’m reading Harry Potter en fracais and am rattled by the fact that “Hogwarts” has been changed to “Poudlard” Not impressed translator man, not impressed

Just An After School Trip To Narnia

Okay so maybe it’s not exactlllly Narnia, but today after school I went and had a look around the neighbourhood…turns out there’s a forest and gorgeous river at the end of the road! It was absolutely beautiful and it did feel like you were in some kind of fairytale or fantasy world…like Narnia! I’m not the greatest photographer and back home it’s not something I even really do but here, everywhere I go is just so breathtaking that I feel compelled to try my best to capture it! Hopefully you can at least get a sense of how amazing Switzerland is! Anyway, this is one of my new favourite places in Geneva 🙂ImageImageImage ImageImageImage Image ImageImageImage ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage ImageImage ImageImageImageImage