I was always told that the college years are the best years of one´s life. I was previously skeptical to this – I had had so many incredible experiences, why should this top it off?
Now I understand.
The travels, as usual, went smoothly. I was situated between three screaming infants on the Condor flight directly from Anchorage to Frankfurt, which was somewhat of an irritation, but less so than it used to be. I mean, think of how the poor parents must feel. The airline was otherwise extremely impressive, especially in terms of food, and being able to fly Anchorage-Frankfurt instead of Anchorage-Seattle-Newark-Copenhagen-Frankfurt was a luxury. Upon arriving in Milan, with no idea where to go to catch a bus, I mistakenly took an elevator both up and down 6 times before figuring it out. Trudging into the blistering heat, I approached a bus, and discovered to my delight that it was departing instantly for Lugano. So simple!
If it had been hot in Milan, it may have been hotter in Lugano. The drive was incredible – lush green peaks covered in mosaics of red tile roofs plunged into pristine blue lakes while silhouettes of the Alps lingered in the background. The hostel I had chosen to stay at was both reasonably priced and fairly luxurious. I quickly befriended a girl from Zurich and together we spent some hours by the pool until dinner time. She helped me buy groceries, taught me how to weigh vegetables and print the price tags, and how to look for work (if one speaks Italian). I slept early but got up at 6.00 for a run to the lakeside. Jogging through a blossoming flower garden, rays of golden sun illuminated the other side of the lake first and swept the mountains in a wave of light towards Lugano. It was beautiful, and not too hot, yet. That may need to become somewhat of a routine.
After a breakfast in an outdoor palm tree garden, I headed for school. At check-in, returning students informed me I had been placed in a triple dorm, and that triple was a 15-minute walk from the main campus; 25 from the north campus, down a remarkably steep hill. Bummer, they initially said. Then someone spoke up. It´s the Girasole triple. The largest dorm on the entire campus.
Girasole means sunflower in Italian. It happens to be located in the part of town known as Paradiso. I, dear readers, am literally living in paradise.
Upon entering my dorm apartment, all I could do was the first five minutes was walk around, gape in awe, and say unintelligent things such as “Oh my God”. My roommates had yet to arrive, and the vastness of the living quarters presented to me was somewhat alarming. First off, our bathroom as a bidet. Our living room is infinitely huge, white, and devoid of furniture save a nice kitchenette (stove, microwave, limited kitchen utensils, sink, no oven) and a lone desk situated majestically between two towering windows. We call this The President´s Desk. Our bedroom is so spacious that last night one of my friends was literally doing flying ballet leaps through the spaces between our beds and desks. Successfully. (I was impressed).
So, long story short, once upon a time in December 2008 I was on Facebook and in an act of sheer curiosity accepted a friend request from a guy in California named Kyle. I did not know this person, and was even more surprised with myself when I ended up talking to him on Facebook chat. In that one brief exchange of simple words, something clicked, and we were friends from then on. Friends, that is, that had not met until this Tuesday. I had never had the surreal experience of bringing an online friendship into reality, but oddly, it was the most natural thing in the world. When I heard the group flight had arrived in their buses, I walked straight into the school cafeteria where they were eating lunch, found Kyle and Greg (Kyle´s roommate, another Californian whose blog I followed during his exchange year in Norway… if that´s not obvious, we´re going to have a lot in common). Two minutes later, we all sat in the shade of a palm tree, laughing and talking like long lost friends.
Meet Greg and Kyle! (and some alpenhorns!)
Back at my dorm (after laboriously carrying all of my luggage down the hill in the blistering heat), I met Quinn and later Kayla, my two roommates! I know problems are supposed to arise naturally from the simple fact that we live together, but so far, I absolutely love them.
Meet Quinn. From Boulder, Colorado, our lifestyles are pretty similar in terms of activities and sleep patterns. She´s funny, super nice (sorry those words are so overused, she´s really much cooler than that) speaks fluent German, and we have so much in common… what more could one ask for in a roommate?
Kayla, otherwise known as Princess DeepThoughts, is from California as well, and absolutely hilarious without meaning to be. One perfectly innocent statement can drop me and Quinn to the ground in hysterical laughter. Of course, she too is super nice and a great roommate so far. I think we´re all going to enjoy living together – our apartment, apparently, has an enchantment of happiness upon it, and anyone who lives in it together is bonded forever by sisterly love.
These things in mind, the possibility of loneliness has not even crossed my mind since arriving here. The days have been packed, my internal alarm clock is still set, unfortunately, to 4 AM every day, and the weather has been sweltering. Free time is spent together, stargazing under trees or taking scenic runs before dawn. Life is beautiful, and so is Switzerland.