I was envious of the man sitting on the opposite side of the plane and wanted to ask him to move his fat head. He had already finished four airplane size bottles of vodka and was drooling, murmuring something in French. I
was reluctant in even wanting to approach him, but he was blocking my view of the Alps. I tried to peer over him, but it was useless, his head was enormous. I irritably sat back down and glanced out my window. I couldn’t complain, this was the most scenic plane flight I had ever been on. We were flying through a valley and away from the huge mountains. I could see Lake Geneva in the distance and began to get excited. The sun was shining and everything was rich in color. Being in England, I had forgotten what the sun looked like. I couldn’t wait to feel it’s warmth soak into my pale skin.
The first thing I noticed while walking down the airport terminal were the people. Most had giddy grins and were skinny and very well dressed. I knew Switzerland was a trilingual country, (French, German and Italian) but I figured everyone spoke English as well. To my left were two harmless looking men, gossiping together in a café. I needed to find out where the train was so I decided to ask them. As soon as I approached, they both started smiling. “Excuse me, do you know where the train station is?” I asked politely. Their smiles quickly disappeared as soon as I spoke English. They smirked at me with no response and continued to chat in French. I only knew bonjour, merci and au revoir, which was clearly not going to get me far in this conversation. After a minute of looking like an idiot, I shamelessly walked away. I wandered for another 20 minutes and finally found the booth to buy my train ticket. “One train ticket to Bulle please.” I pulled out my credit card, not paying any attention to the price of my ticket. The man handed me my ticket and receipt. I glanced at my receipt and almost fainted. My one-way train ticket was 45 US dollars. This was going to be an expensive weekend. Speechless, I took a deep breath and looked back up at the man in the ticket window-“Merci, au revoir.”
I spent the next two hours in utter awe on the train. It weaved in and out of a gallery of forests, the leaves absorbed with vivid colors of red, orange and yellow. Every time the train would escape through a dark tunnel I couldn’t wait to see what was at the other end. The further into the ride, I found myself surrounded by the most beautiful countryside. Bright green grass carpeted the hills, stretching for miles into the distance.
My cheeks began to hurt and I wanted to stop smiling. It wasn’t going to happen. All I could think about was the fact that I was in Switzerland, about to spend the weekend with former SNC Alumni Helle Throndsen and sophomore Marianne Madsen. I had only spent time with the two of them in Tahoe.
Months prior, Helle and I talked about visiting each other in Europe, but I never thought it would actually happen.
The three of us had way too much fun over the weekend. One main highlight was when we took a train ride to Montreux, a thriving city on Lake Geneva. We were under the impression that the train ride only took 20 minutes. Two hours later we were in Montreux. We adventurously took the scenic route, which was completely unintentional. Wise women we are. We ate lunch, bought way too much Swiss chocolate and spent the rest of our day walking along the lake, laughing and catching up.
Helle lives in Bulle, a small preserved village in southern Switzerland. She’s attending Glion, which is one of the most prestigious business management schools in Europe. In Bulle, the locals speak French and are not entirely friendly to outside visitors.
“Switzerland is beautiful, although Bulle is too small for me,” Helle told me.
She loves how vibrant the nature is here and how easy it is to travel. “The quality of everything is pure; the air, the valleys, the mountains, the lakes and the rivers. They are all an exaggeration of other places that share these same qualities.”
She graduates next July and plans on seeing much of the country until then. “The train makes everything easily accessible,” she told me. Next weekend she is going to Saasfee, which is one of the most famous and largest mountain resorts in the Alps.
“Switzerland lives up to every expectation I ever had-the cows, the cheese, the Heidi’s and much more,” SNC sophomore Madsen said, who is currently not in Tahoe. Don’t worry SNC, she’ll be back soon.
Switzerland is an enchanting place. I didn’t see much of the country, so I definitely see myself returning. Snowboarding in the Alps is a must. I would also love to visit in the summer and go hiking, run through a field of flowers, go yodeling in the mountains, hang out with Heidi and the cows, stuff my face with chocolate and cheese, and learn either French or German so I can actually communicate with everyone and anyone. I don’t think I would survive here if I stayed any longer because English is nonexistent.
By Eliza Demarest