Friday, 12 October 2012

Exchange in Switzerland Part 1

Hello dear readers! Many of you have been asking why this blog hasn't been updated in the longest while and have told me that you've missed my presence in the blogsphere. That made me go "aww" quite a bit :) So I sincerely apologise for being absent for about a month or so without much explanation. Those who follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@cherchezbeaute) would probably be aware of the fact that I'm currently in Switzerland on a student exchange that will last for about 4 months. Here's Part I of a lengthy and picture-heavy travelogue with pictures (all taken with Xanthe) of what happened from then 'til now...

Epic First Day (pardon the length):

On the 4th of September 2012, I arrived in Switzerland on my own. It's the first time I've taken a flight alone, so it's a milestone for me. I also made a few friends on the way, for whom I'm really grateful. I seldom talk about my religion (Christianity) here, but meeting a Singapore-based lawyer who is a Muslim-turned-Christian on the plane evoked strong sentiments within me. He shared his journey of faith with me, and it was touching and sad to hear how he was estranged from his mother after his conversion. We also agreed, in the spirit of faith, for me to visit his church when I returned to Singapore. It was rather surreal for me, but I had such lovely company between talking to him and his daughter on the long-haul flight to Geneva that I was never bored.

Upon arriving in Switzerland, I met up with my assigned buddy from Université de Lausanne (UNIL), Mayven. She kindly helped me carry my luggage back to my Cèdres FMEL (Fondation Maisons pour Etudiants Lausanne) residence and took me on a little tour around the city centre. I was looking forward to frequent meet ups during my stay in Switzerland - unfortunately, she had to fly off to Spain to do her studies there, so there's that. After she went back home that day, I was supposed to take a bus and walk back home. The problem: I couldn't find the way home even though I'd been there once with Mayven. Wandering around lost for a few hours until 9pm isn't fun, I tell you. Anxious texts and phone calls were exchange between Mayven and me, and we figured that I had only to walk through a dark patch of "foresty" looking area before reaching the residence. It was truly a walk of faith. I relied on the light from my iPhone to walk down a rambling path that led down a slope. The path was gritty and rocky, and I was very scared and a little hysterical even. When I saw the lights of the residence building, I was so immensely thankful that I said a little prayer of gratitude.

I walked to my block (with some help from a few residents), went up to my flat, entered and attempted to turn on the lights in the living room. Nothing happened. Being tired, hungry and scared, the last thing I wanted was for the lights not to be working on top of all that. I decided to head to my room. Turned on all the lights in the room and looked at the bare bed with only a linen sheet on it - I had to unpack and arrange my bedsheet on the mattress. After that, I collapsed onto the chair and ate my dinner of a vegetarian wrap and some salad I'd bought on the way back.

My sole flatmate (of the moment) returned at 10pm. My only thought: finally, some company! I was about to find out why the flat was so deserted at night - my flatmate, a Chinese PhD student at EPFL, is really busy in the day, leaving the house at 9am and only returning at 10pm. According to him, the lights were spoilt and he had lived with that for 2 months, much to my disbelief. We chatted for a while (in Chinese, may I add) then retired to our rooms.

It was quite a day, and I slept fitfully.

The Sound of Settling

The next few days were spent settling down and unpacking. While some things were still constant sources of worry for me (my modem was down, so no internet unless I went into my flatmate's room), other things were new, exciting and open to exploration.

I took pictures of my residence and our flat.

My room, a safe and cosy place.

I went to school to settle some administrative matters and was struck by the beauty of the campus.

The same for the city centre of Lausanne: Lausanne-FLON. Flon used to be a river that flowed through this area.

 The metro stations are so creatively decorated! This one below is in FLON.

 I also explored St François, an important financial centre in Lausanne.

While there, we visited the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, a beautifully constructed building.

And a wonderful view of the Lausanne skyline from the top of the cathedral.

More about my travels in Part II!

Rachel loves sharing about the beautiful things in life from different perspectives. She writes on beauty and lifestyle in Cherchez Beauté , and does more abstract stuff on Antelune . When she's not writing, she's playing with her dog Holly, doodling and reading fiction. You can follow her on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram .