Sam In The City

So the plan was for today’s blog post to be about my first week of school butttt I went on an adventure today and I figured that was much more interesting anyway! School can wait…

I have to say that today has been one of my favourite days in Switzerland so far. The sun was shining, the sky was the perfect shade of blue and it was cool but not cold. So, after lunch my host parents Laye and Shif and I went to the Old City of Geneva and took a look around. Amen, unfortunately has a couple of tests tomorrow and had to say home and study 😦 We went to the Saint Pierre Cathedral and Laye and I climbed up…and up and up and up and up to the highest point in the city. You can walk all the way around and get a panoramic view of the city. It was magnificent! Seriously, so incredible. And like I said, it was a perfect day for it, nice and clear so we got a good view of the mountains, the famous water jet, Lac Leman, and all the pretty old buildings.

After the dizzying decent all the way back down the narrow spiral staircase, we kept walking through the old, narrow, cobblestoned streets. We stopped and had “marrons”, roasted chestnuts in a little paper bag and then we got to the Swiss Museum of History and Art. That’s right folks, I got to go to a museum! Most people probably think that’s super lame, but those of you who know me know that I loveeee museums. And it was super cool because it was free to the public, you just walked in and looked around as much or as little as you wanted. One wing was all cool historical artefacts, mostly from Geneva or at least Switzerland. Swords, armour, etc. One area was set up like a 1500th century “château” and I loved that!

The other wing was all Swiss/French artwork which was slightly less interesting for me but still very cool. Especially the stuff by Pablo Picasso because he was the only name I recognized! Not going to lie…his looked like they were drawn by a 4th grader. But you know what, I’m am not by any means an art critic and I still liked it!

So yeah, and then we walked back through the village to the car and drove home for a croissant and a cup of tea . A very lovely day by any standard. Now I’m just relaxing and writing and then tomorrow is back to school…maybe I’ll also write about school tomorrow. Who knows! Until then, enjoy these photos of my wonderful day! I hope everyone else’s Sunday was just as great 🙂 Blessed to be having this wonderful experience with such a great family in such a beautiful country and city!

Ps….only 3 more days of being 16 whoo!

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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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