If anyone would have told me that I would be where I am today, I would have laughed. Though this adventure has always been a dream of mine, it never seemed like a possible reality, and yet here I am writing a blog about my exchange in Switzerland. I have many people to thank for this, because it is without question that a number of people have contributed to making my dream a reality... but I'll save that for the closing credits.
August 4th was a very emotional day. Although I was beginning an amazing journey, I was leaving all the people I love in Canada. To say the least, it was an overwhelming situation, as one could imagine. There were many tears that day, before flights and during flights. Flying over North Bay, I felt nostalgic about the strangest things, seeing the streets of the city. I could see Lakeshore drive from the up above and I literally cried - I hated Lakeshore drive. I had never experienced a surge of emotion like I did this day, but I'm sure I will again when the time comes for me to leave this beautiful country.
My emotions settled when I finally arrived in Zürich, and was picked up from the airport. I was welcomed to Switzerland by a friendly, warm couple, whom I will stay with for two weeks. We drove the Autobahn, which is often mistaken for a highway with no speed limit (it's really just the word for a regular highway). The lanes were filled with European cars that would never make it through a Canadian winter, and occasionally I would see a car that is familiar to me. A Honda, for example, except it's not any Honda I've seen before; it's a Honda Jazz.
Anyway, enough about cars am I right? We finally made our way to my temporary home, where I quickly changed and within 20 minutes we were off to buy an unlimited train pass (which they call a GA here, it allows you to go anywhere in the country), to notify city hall that I have arrived, and of course to stop at a local butcher for some meat! In between all this we also went by the Kantonsschule, where I will go to school, and drove up an unbelievably narrow road, to drive by the home of my first host family.
We enjoyed a nice lunch, after which the nice couple went back to work downstairs, while I unpacked and settled in. Meals are very interesting here. It's too early to tell whether this is the norm in Switzerland, but so far we eat a larger meal at lunch - what would be considered dinner in Canada - and then at dinner time we eat something light and small; last night it was bread, cheese, and meat, today we ate delicious omlettes... a recipe which I would like to jot down before I leave.
My second day here was equally busy. This morning I was ready at 10:30am on the dot (the Swiss people are extremely punctual) and we traveled a few kilometers to Wilisau, where I got my first Swiss number (see closing credits for details). Then, we picked the Australian exchange student up, and headed to my first ever rotary meeting in Switzerland. It was entirely different to the meetings in North Bay; there was no singing, no one played the piano, and there was barely any reports to be made, other than my arrival. I shook the hand of every single Rotarian (good thing I've been practicing my firm handshakes) and mingled as much as I could. "Ich spreche ein bisschen Deutsch," I told most people, "I speak a bit of german". After the meeting, Harrison the Australian and I took the train for about 30 minutes to Lucerne, where we wandered a bit, and headed back home.
All in all, my first few days have been great, and I can't wait for tomorrow! I've been offered to ride the dirt bike, and jokes about insurance have already been made. More on that next time!
Funny moment of the day:
The English-style restaurant that hosted the Rotary meeting had an interesting beer of the month... anyone heard of this one?
As promised, closing credits:
First, I would like to thank my parents for allowing me to live this amazing opportunity, for supporting me, and continuing to support me along the way. Additionally, I would like to thank Rotarian, Natalie MacDougall, who has provided me with infinite support and care, which hasn't gone unnoticed. Thank you. This being said, the North Bay Rotary Club, and the 7010 district has prepared me so well for my exchange, and has invested a lot of time ensuring that I, and all other outbounds are ready for this experience. Friends and family who have told me how much they believe in me, and are rooting for me: from the bottom of my heart thank you. Sometimes reassurance and support is necessary, and I have received it from all around me.
Now as we know, it's a no no to give out your phone number publicly on the internet, therefore, if anyone would like my new Swiss number it's-
Send me a message on Facebook:) and please note long distance charges may apply.