Life is a Box of Swiss Chocolates is a recurring column showcasing the life of a UFV student studying abroad. Jennifer was in Lucerne, Switzerland at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts. This is her final entry and a recap of her excursion.
Wow! What an absolutely phenomenal way to spend my summer. After a rigorous exam period to conclude my semester in Switzerland, a Euro trip was the trick to ultimate relaxation. Now, not everything was super relaxing and stress free. In fact, a few instances were the exact opposite, but I wouldn’t change anything about my trip. I met some really interesting people, and had some great conversations. I didn’t add many people on Facebook or stay connected in any way, because my favourite part about traveling and staying in hostels is experiencing that serendipitous moment in that moment, and that’s it. Also, nothing is more joyous than a box of Boursin cheese and a bottle of wine for only five euros. In France, I drank so much 1664 Kronenbourg beer, which is kind of expensive here, but over there costs about as much as we’d pay for a Pilsner.
One of the most stressful moments was my five-hour train delay in central France. Unbeknownst to me, I had booked an Airbnb-style accommodation for my stay in Vichy. I did not have any air time for my phone while I travelled, so I was confined to only using Wi-Fi for communicating. I usually just put down my home phone number if I needed to put a number, and then my mom would contact me if there was anything critical that I needed to know. About an hour before I was supposed to get on the train, I was able to connect to Wi-Fi and got a message, all in French, which my mom assumed was for me. The message asked what time I would be arriving in Vichy at the Airbnb.
Back in Canada, my mom had fallen asleep and I was unable to text the number with my phone. On top of all that, there was an accident on the tracks, and all trains were cancelled for the day, so I felt anxious that I was going to be late for these people who were waiting for me. The railway staff were very helpful in finding me a new train, and calling the Airbnb owners for me. The owners ended up picking me up at the train station at 10:00 p.m. when I was supposed to arrive at 5:00 p.m., and turned out to be incredibly accommodating and friendly.
I finished off my trip in Switzerland, where I visited with most of the Swiss friends I had met during my time there, and a couple of years ago at a conference in Vancouver. One of my friends worked at a four star hotel in the Italian part of Switzerland, so I got to lounge around by the pool and eat amazing food. Such a nice way to end my time in Switzerland.
At this point I’ve been home for almost two weeks. I miss Switzerland a lot. I miss being surrounded by other students all the time, and always having someone to hang out with, or do something new with. Since I’ve been back I’ve been dealing with old feelings I left behind about various friendships, school, and life after university. I’ve also been going through a lot of my possessions, and getting prepared for my last year of school to start.
The things I learned on my trip that I’m really trying to keep with me are living a simpler lifestyle, taking time to prepare and enjoy my food, as well as staying active. I feel lighter, physically and mentally.
I came across a post on Facebook that stated that you are only as strong as the circle of people around you. After spending half a year with motivated, like-minded people, I realize the impact of this statement — I feel energized and incredibly excited for my future. I met so many different people, and saw so many amazing things, that it really opened up my mind. I am looking forward to exploring new places in my home country, and trying new things like I did during my time in Europe.