I was looking over my earlier posts from August, and it made me pause and consider some things that were on my mind before I arrived, which have subsequently been pushed out by the reality of living here. So I thought that now, having been here nigh on a month (goodness time flies!), was as good a time as any to look back on my pre-departure thoughts and how they corresponded to my actual experience.
I was amused to see in this post (about how fortunate I am to have got a place in university halls):
Guess that means the flat party’s at miiiine!! I’m kidding. I’m so, so kidding.
The irony being that the party really is going to be at mine tomorrow night. I just hope it doesn’t get too messy, and that I won’t be unable to clean it up if it does. Although both of these things would mean a highly successful night, it would also mean the scary African cleaner lady will be even meaner to me than she normally is…
As for life in halls, thankfully I don’t appear to have been put in with crazies (though it’s only been three weeks so you never know…), and even if I were, it would probably be relatively easy to avoid them. In fact I have met some simply charming, charming new friends here in my digs, from all over the world. The only disadvantage of that being that the common language is almost always English, not French. But I can hardly complain when they are so lovely, and there are still several francophones. Dinner time has rarely been more fun, with people from all over the world cooking their own awesome things and talking in several languages simultaneously. In addition, the walls here appear to be made of something thicker than paper, so I am rarely disturbed (if anything I do the disturbing through drunken renditions of Adele with my friends, but let’s not linger on that…). I have a balcony with a lovely view of a forest, and by simply stepping out from my residence you can see the misty mountains in the distance…and the metro station across the road. It’s pretty idyllic.
My first post discussed some Swiss stereotypes. I can say that the part of Switzerland I am in is not unnaturally clean; it’s about the same as England. I hear, however, the Swiss-German part is a whole other story, and where the reputation for extreme cleanliness comes from… It certainly is peaceful here, the people are more chilled out, and the students really do study more and drink less. This is largely to do with a tendency for Swiss students to live at home and go to a nearby uni, while halls are mostly populated with foreign students. Hey, it just means we party more!
I have definitely felt the bite of the elevated cost of living, but I also have great appreciation for the quality of everything as well as Switzerland’s organisation, efficiency and the general good attitude of most people. In our main university canteen (affectionately dubbed “la banane” – the banana – because of the building’s shape) we have actual pizza chefs. Who flip out the dough and bake fresh pizzas. The calzone I had the other day…wow. That’s in addition to the Asian chefs, and the Swiss food dished out. I have only been to one other canteen on campus (there are more), and I had veal. I think that about says it all, with no need to give mention to the mouth-watering array of desserts. If you know me you know that a happy stomach = happy Teresa.
In honour of my blog’s namesake I have, of course, had fondue. Tip: don’t order a fondue as a main course. Three mouthfuls and you’ll feel sick. We were told by the waitress that it was one fondue per person, and that constituted a meal, but she LIED. It’s so rich that you have to tone it down with something else; it’s best to share a fondue with friends, accompanied by other side dishes. Raclette is something I have yet to try, but can’t wait to. I’m a cheese fan, but was rather flabbergasted to discover that cheddar cheese just doesn’t exist here. Apparently (according to a French friend anyway), it’s not real cheese. It’s virtually the only kind of cheese I eat in England… I said cheese fan, I never said connoisseur!
Skiing season has not begun yet, but already I can see patches of white blanketing the distant mountaintops. I was quite literally stopped in my tracks today on my way to campus at the sight of the snow-capped peaks in the distance. The epic beauty of it was staggering, as was the contrast of its distant wild natural-ness to this ordered, civilised little town. I don’t particularly wish for this blog to become an adoring paean to Lausanne, but really, this place is fabulous.
I do realise that this post was meant to be about racial stereotypes, to which I can only apologise and advise you not to attach too much hope to what appear to be empty promises on my part. I can’t help how the blog Muse moves me! But it’s not an entirely empty promise, the next post will be more controversial, promise!