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

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

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

How to have a long-distance lurve

Going on exchange has in turn shattered my faith in long-distance relationships and strengthened my conviction that love will conquer all… But before we get into that, what exchange has first and foremost changed is my perception of what constitutes a “long distance”. Before, when my university experience was limited to the borders of my own country, I thought something like London to Manchester was a long distance. Pah! That’s less than 200 miles. Today, I scoff at any distance within a country as small as England.

I now know of couples who are separated by many, many more miles. Try Europe to Continue reading

Loving like you’re on exchange

There’s just no denying it, hooking up while studying abroad is for many an exchange student about as high up, if not higher, on the list of priorities as practicing a foreign language. Or at least forms as much a part of the exchange program as anything else. (Now, having done more or less two “exchanges” in one year, trust me, I have eyes and ears, I know…) The time is nigh to grapple with that messy thing, that force that has the power to hoist you up to the dizzying echelons of sky-scraping happiness and also dash your helpless self mercilessly upon the rocks of deepest despair. I am talking, of course, about love. Continue reading

Unpacking a hoard of memories

Isn’t it funny how one small, insignificant object (a scrap of paper carelessly scrawled upon; a forgotten ticket stub) can catch you unawares and plunge you suddenly back in time to a place, a person, a moment, a feeling?

I know it’s been a month and a half since I moved out of my little room overlooking Lausanne and left Switzerland with (significantly) more than just one tear in my eye, but I’ve only just started to Continue reading

Ten months on, and I can speak French now…

My my it’s been a while since my first-ever post on this blog, back in August when I was a tender ERASMUS uninitiate. Back when I had no confidence in my French abilities, no skiing ability and no idea of the wonderful people whom I would meet. Now, after ten months of the Swiss experience, I can more or less speak French fluently, have made some life-changing friends…but sadly still Continue reading

The absolute Worst Thing about going on exchange…

…is having to leave at the end.

In my last few days, I began to find the whole exchange experience rather cruel; and the better the time you had, so the cruelness increases proportionately. You are thrown into this mad, intense environment. You make great friends in an instant, romances effloresce overnight, you have a few months or weeks (or in one case, mere days) to really let these relationships flourish and then OH WAIT, you’ve all got to go home now. You may meet some really wonderful people but making plans for the future sometimes feels depressingly futile. Let’s face the cold reality of it: Continue reading