To align my actions with the themes I mentioned in the first blog, I dove right in today. The process of getting here went well and on the plane I met two wonderful people who gave me advice and suggestions. One took it a step further and helped me get to the tram that would eventually take me to my hostel. On top of all of that her best friend/flatmate greeted us with flowers and a tremendous smile. Talk about being on Swiss soil and already feeling at home. If I stay too long, I might not come back *(just kidding mom and dad… for now). I digress.
In the first blog, I mentioned that one of my ever burning passions is building connections across cultures. Well let me tell you, this is one of the most challenging places to do that. Not because the people are rude, unfriendly, or unwelcoming. The Swiss people are reserved and more private than Americans. However, with the help of a few new friends and a few Germany words and phrases, I found myself building small bridges within the Swiss community. (Sidebar – if you’re trying to build friendships with people all over the world, hostels are the way to go. As soon as I arrived, six more people arrived – two from England, one from Chicago, two from Germany, and one from Australia.)
Over the last few months, we (humanity) have witnessed or experienced things that may have caused us to lose faith in humanity. Trust me, becoming an expat is becoming a real option with the Trump situation (Not just trump, but all those who rally behind overt calls for violence, intolerance, sexism, racism, and the like. The list could go on, but I’m not here for that). If you’re looking to restore your faith in humanity, go somewhere that causes you to rely on others for support. Go a place where you ordering food properly depends on the help of others. (I order a pretzel and three beers (three beers unintentionally because I read a sign wrong and the cashier was pissed when I was surprised). Though it is difficult or scary at times, there is value in relying on others. Now for how things went without the help of others – preview bellow with the Bill Bryson quote.
“I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are fives years old again. You can’t read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross the street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.” Bill Bryson
As I sat on a boat in Lake Zurich, being lulled to sleep by the smooth waves gently rocking us all back and forth, I realized that I missed my stop while on the tour. The natural beautiful of Lake Zurich and the Alps was mesmerizing. So what happened? I ended up getting some sun and landed on the opposite side of Zurich with only my will and google maps to guide me. It resulted in the most solitary, scenic, and deeply reflective hourlong tram ride back to the city center and eventually to my hostel. Today, I intended to roam the city, get acclimated with the rail system, and embrace what would find me. I leave the first day of any trip unscheduled, except for accommodations (knowing where I’ll sleep for the evening). I do this because I don’t know what to fully expect when I arrive. I’ve read the blogs. I’ve checked out the top ten lists, and all I know is that in some places they are worth doing and in other places it’s part of the tourism economy – neither are bad or good by the way. If I could give any recommendation, it would be to settle into a place, breathe the air, roam the streets, make mistakes and own up to them, and then pick out the things you want to do as you go.
So far so good. This country is beautiful. PS though I wrote this one after the first one, I don’t intend to write one everyday. I want these posts to be authentic and a reflection of the experience as a whole. The first day just so happens to need its own blog.