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Letters from Abroad The Swiss Life

Photo Courtesy of Natalie Ferris ’18

Photo Courtesy of Natalie Ferris ’18

Natalie Ferris ‘18, Abroad Columnist

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Arriving in Geneva I was welcomed by the freezing wind called La Bise Noire that blows across the lake and through the city. It is a freezing cold wind that almost knocks you off your feet and you can feel through multiple layers of coats. I was very happy I packed my long winter coat, however I did not need it for long. Despite being nestled in the mountains, spring actually arrived very quickly here and now I can see the sun sparkling off the Jet d’ Eau (Geneva’s massive water jet) from almost anywhere in the city. I also enjoy catching brief glimpses of the snowy Alps and Jura mountains the ends of streets and between buildings. I live with a view of the lake out my window and the Jura mountains stretching beyond that. The neighborhood is quiet and residential despite being right down town.

Week days begins with a breakfast of tartines (fresh bread with jam) from the bakery around the corner, followed by either a short walk to the University of Geneva science complex for physics classes (in French!) with local French and Swiss students or a tram ride across the city to CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) for my internship. Geneva and its globally minded communities gives me the opportunity to work on my French with local students and do research with scientists from all over the world.

After I finish my day at the lab, I head back across the city to ballet class. The familiar class structure combined with an opportunity to meet locals has really helped me feel at home here. Walking back to my apartment through the old town with its cathedral and narrow winding cobblestoned streets still feels surreal and reminds me every day of how lucky I am to be able to learn and live in a city with such an old history.

One of the biggest shocks I had after moving to Geneva was the absurdly high prices. So we, the Americans, quickly learned that the cheapest way to get groceries is to head into France for the afternoon. While this sounded daunting at first, the open borders and incredibly organized transportation system means that it only takes about a half hour to be in a new country. On the weekends, this web of trains and busses that stretch across Switzerland means that I have been able to travel around both the French and German regions. The culture and customs of the two regions really are incredibly different. However, a constant throughout all of the different mountain towns has been the food which mostly consists of different ways to eat potatoes, cheese, and dried meats: fondue, raclette, tartiflette, cheese and charcuterie platters. Despite all this cheese, I think the single most prominent part of my diet has been chocolate. I don’t know what I will do back in the US without my daily dose of Swiss chocolate.

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Letters from Abroad The Swiss Life