Swiss cheese and other things

Hello friends! 6 countries, 24-ish cities (I lost track), and many a plane/train/boat/tube ride later, I am back in the good ol’ US of A. When I sat down to start writing about my whereabouts for the last two months, I realized that I never published this post I wrote wayyy in the beginning of my study abroad program… so I’ll leave you with this 6-weeks overdue update before I go on about how I ate my way through the rest of Europe 🙂

view from mt saleve, switzerland
Even if you don’t typically like the outdoors, Switzerland will turn you into a hiking person because the views are breathtaking and you just can’t miss out on it.

I’ve been in Geneva for just over two weeks now and it feels like we are already getting ready to leave. One month is not enough in this beautiful place, but at least there’s lots more excitement in store for me!

Geneva is in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Switzerland operates under a federal system much like the United States, divided into cantons that are each very autonomous – the four languages spoken in different regions of Switzerland are German, Italian, French, and Romansch. With French borders on nearly all sides of Geneva, we may as well be in France (but not actually, don’t tell the Swiss people I said that).

Lac Leman, switzerland
Lake Geneva is actually called Lac Leman, and Geneva is only at the southernmost tip of the crescent-shaped lake. The lake is one of the largest in Western Europe and is under the jurisdiction of both France and Switzerland!
Jet D'eau, Geneva
The jet d’eau is a famous landmark in Geneva and you can see it from 33,000 feet above! It shoots water almost 500 feet into the air and sometimes changes color at night.

Some brief observations after two weeks here:

  • There is a steady stream of attractive men in fitted suits that zoom around on motorcycles. Can’t complain.
  • Everyone has a little dog. Like, purse-size.
  • You can spot an American a mile away. We stick out like sore thumbs, especially when traveling in loud obnoxious groups.
  • Except for the part where everyone smokes, the air feels fresher and the water that flows out of public fountains everywhere is delicious.
  • A small cup of drip coffee (“Americano”) at Starbucks is $7. No joke.
Palais de Nation, Geneve
The UN Office in Geneva is the European headquarters and deals mostly with humanitarian rather than security issues.
Geneva, Switzerland flag bridge
Behind the Swiss flags are the Geneva canton flags. The eagle is the eagle of the Holy Roman Empire and the key is one of St Peter’s keys to heaven.

Now, as I am here taking a class from an international law professor on International Conflict Resolution, I could bore you with details of all the fascinating IR stuff that I’m learning for the rest of the summer (“IR stuff” being a highly technical term…) I could tell you about the problems with the Minsk agreements mediated by OSCE in the Ukrainian conflict. I could tell you the difference between a truce, cessation of hostilities, ceasefire, and armistice. I could tell you about different kinds of terrorism, or launch into the history of the United Nations… I’ve learned so much about the world in just two weeks, but this is not your typical study abroad blog. So I’ll leave the international relations to the professors and do what I do best instead – talk about food.

Photo courtesy of Sofia Soto Sugar
Fondue and raclette in the little town of Gruyere… more on this later!

In Switzerland, wine, cheese, and chocolate are basically their own food groups. I’ve soaked in so much over the last two weeks (including a weekend trip to Paris!), I’ll go into detail about some things I’ve learned about the Swiss and their food and wine culture in future posts. Stay tuned to hear about Raclette and Gruyere, my first (completely legal) wine tasting experience, Swiss restaurant etiquette, and more!

Leave a Reply