The Swiss Vaccine

I can make a pretty confident guess that if you are reading this, you have been infected by Affluenza to some degree. Never heard of Affluenza? It’s the title of a book by Oliver James. You should read it. As you can see, the title is a portmanteau of “affluence” and “influenza” and James talks us through this very modern malaise that is affecting mostly English-speaking countries and is spreading to places that are heavily influenced by modern American culture and Selfish Capitalism.

Symptoms include: Continue reading

No More ERASMUS for Switzerland?

So this is when direct democracy can really come round and bite you in the arse. If you’re reading this presumably you have an interest in Switzerland and/or ERASMUS, so you’ll know that the recent referendum on limiting immigration into Switzerland has resulted in Switzerland being excluded from participating in the ERASMUS program. Sad news for future possible Lausanne exchangers, and also more selfishly, sad news for me. What about my plans to retire over there???

The really tragic thing is that Continue reading

Way to feel inadequate: spend the afternoon at EPFL

Here I find myself once again: at EPFL, posing as a phony student in the Rolex learning centre, back in Lausanne to visit Frenchie, surrounded by (mostly) French-speaking scholars. If anyone asks, I’m studying Life Sciences…

I get a strange feeling when I find myself in such a milieu. It is part admiration, part envy, part fondness and part humility. And there is a big dose of Continue reading

Did I hear you say “mooooo”? Swiss cows say “meeeuuhhh”

On one fine morning while living on a Swiss farm, the first thing I saw when I woke up and looked out the open window was a cow taking a great big sloppy crap a few metres away. I hastily shut the window before the smell could get in but otherwise didn’t blink an eye; I was adjusting quickly to farm life. Though, like all things in Switzerland, Continue reading

ERASMUS for grown-ups

It is the tenth and final day of a summer school I have been doing in Brussels, and time to consolidate my learning. Daily lectures on the EU have been in turn informative and dull, but have at least been enough to neutralise some Euroscepticism. I have always been pro-Europe myself, least of all because without the EU, the ERASMUS program wouldn’t exist! Therefore I would never have gone to live in Switzerland! Therefore this blog would never exist!! However what I walk away with most is an Continue reading

“Gimme me a bise, baiser or bisou – just don’t use baiser as a verb”: A guide to Kissing

In cold, rainy England, where we try to limit physical contact with unknowns (and sometimes friends) as much as possible, and where being accidentally brushed by someone on the tube warrants an apology (on the part of the brushed, that is), the idea of kissing somebody you have just met is, despite our (vague) awareness of our continental neighbours, not really done. Unless you’re being a pretentious prick like I was Continue reading

Clubbing classy-like

It’s been a while since I hit the campus club back here in England. A year away had faded my memory of just what a uni night out in England looks like. However, walking across uni at, oh around 10pm the other evening, heading home with some nutrition-less supplies from the campus supermarket to fuel a late-night reading session, I was slapped in the eyes with the sight of what can only be described as rows of naked legs on stilts.

What I was seeing, of course, was several Continue reading

ERASMUS isn’t over…

So I might be back at my home uni. So it might be pouring with rain every time I step out the front door. So my friends are now scattered across the face of the globe. So I should actually be reading rather than blogging. I refuse to let it go. I refuse to accept that everything is back to normal. Now that the semester is well and truly under way, I am undergoing what can only be described as severe denial; my mind is rejecting reality like the cable connecting me to the Matrix is loose; like I’m half-asleep and waiting to wake up again.

It’s not helping that Continue reading

Back to Reality

It was never going to be easy dragging ourselves back to our home universities after exchange for that much-dreaded fourth, and final, year. Flicking through photos of that magical year abroad, it’s hard to believe that just three months ago I had a balcony view over the Alps all of my own and that Lake Léman, glittering under the summer sunlight, was a short metro ride away.

Now, with the interminable rain and grey skies of England hanging over us, Continue reading