Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Exchange in Switzerland Part 5

Well, I'm finally back with the final instalment of my student exchange in Switzerland. I came back to Singapore in January but never quite wrapped up that series as I've been so caught up with other things. The picture above is a shot of my apartment in Lausanne, which is part of the Cedres residence. I still carry fond and funny memories of life there. It was pretty cool to live with a couple of people my age instead of my parents!

Before I left Lausanne for good, I managed to explore it a bit with some of my friends as winter drew near. I visited the Cathedrale Notre-Dame (this is the French spelling) again. It's an imposing and impressive building famous for its Gothic architecture. You can see more pictures of the exterior and interior of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in my previous exchange post.

We also visited MUDAC (Musée de design et d'arts appliques contemporains), which is basically the museum of modern art in Lausanne.

We didn't manage to see much, as we decided that the entrance fee was a little high, but we did manage to walk around the area and marvel at the architectural style, which is remnant of medieval Europe, and is also very different from that of Singapore.

One morning I woke up to a beautiful sight outside my window:


I ran out to the living room and was immediately fascinated by the way the falling snowflakes landed and melted on the metal pole outside.

The snow fell continuously for about an hour, then slowly started to melt.

I love it when the sky is a clear blue and the snow is half melted on the grass. It's a very peaceful sight that's not completely white and hints at spring, when the white blanket of snow will finally be lifted.

During winter it was not always snowy in Lausanne. In fact, snowy days were pretty rare. At times it would be foggy as well, but that was pretty rare too.

Here's a panorama taken from the top of a building on a foggy day. You can click to expand it!

I love the weather in Lausanne, whether snowy, sunny or foggy, as the maximum temperature was always well below 20 degrees - nothing like Singapore weather! I really enjoyed the autumn/winter period, but missed the abundant sunlight during the end of spring when I first reached Lausanne.

Here's an amazing double rainbow I saw near the start of my exchange:

I remember that one of the first places I visited when I reached Lausanne at the end of spring was the park. There's a beach in the park and a couple of bathers wading in the water. It was a glorious sunny day but not too hot to caper around the beach, as this little dog's doing at the right corner of the picture.

Speaking of animals and spring, here's a random picture of a sheep at my host university.

Yes, you heard me right, UNIL (University of Lausanne) has an entire area with a flock of sheep grazing! It's located near the Biology research building, so that makes more sense, but I couldn't help laughing when I saw this little fella in school.

I probably mentioned this already, but UNIL has a beautiful campus. In spring, the trees look like they belong to a thicket of fairy woods.

That being said, everything just looks beautiful in Switzerland.

Take this sunset for instance - I took this picture with my phone and didn't edit the colours at all. The sky was purple, pink and red in the glow of the setting sun. I stood on the street, watching it sink beneath the line of roofs and trees.

Switzerland is no less beautiful at night, with the lights of the city reflecting on dark waters or streets like so many pinpricks of opportunity.

This picture reminds me of a quote from The Great Gatsby:

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And then one fine morning— So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

I'm not even sure what the C-shaped structure is in the background, but Lausanne had some pretty cool sculptures around anyway.

This one looks like a decepticon, with its evil red eye. It's a rather good example of modern art in Lausanne, but for something a little more ancient, you should go for a cultural activity like L'escalade. It's an annual festival held in Geneva to commemorate the defeat of the surprise attack upon Geneva (when it was a nation-state) by Savoy. My Swiss friends kindly invited me to Geneva for a night of celebration, and it was a very interesting festival indeed.

Here's us posing by the Lake Geneva on the way there, and below is the lake by itself. Lovely sight at night!

The streets were decked in lights of all sorts and there was a lovely festive atmosphere on that night.

The march began with the drums, of course.

Later on, people carrying pikes on fire (!) started marching as well.

There were a few farm animals joining the cause - that I found particularly amusing. I saw people dressed in villager costumes carrying chickens and leading donkeys and sheep down the road! Not something you see regularly in a city.

There was also an impressive display of (prop) weapons.

The parade took a good hour or so, and they sang the Geneva national anthem (back when it wasn't part of Switzerland). Then as quickly as they had begun the march, L'escalade ended and the streets cleared gradually.

We chanced upon a random funfair that was already closed. The light were still switched on though, and it looked almost surreal in contrast to the empty streets.

Although Switzerland isn't very well known for its food, my friends and I still had a pretty good meal Le Vaudoise, a café in Lausanne. Lausanne is part of the canton of Vaud and Le Vaudoise served up some regional specialities, including raclette (a type of cheese) fondue.

We had some salad...

And a serving of rosti...

I think we had raclette fondue too, but I didn't take a picture of that. The food in Switzerland is rather expensive - you can expect to spend about 30 euros (almost 50 SGD) on a decent meal at a restaurant.

And now for some home-made cuisine, check out this dish I made!

It's pork cutlet dipped in flour, salt and pepper and fried, topped with some homemade apple sauce. It wasn't that hard to make, and was pretty yummy. Hmm, I should really do a separate post on student-friendly homecooked meals - I did mention some of my cooking exploits in my previous post, but nothing in detail yet.

I will also miss the times I spent in my Cedres apartment and in Switzerland and the rest of Europe in general. It was a heck of an experience to be away from the familiar for 4 months, and there were many obstacles in my way, but they have helped me grow and remain as my memories of Europe.

Switzerland - au revoir, and I hope to visit you again someday.

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 .