January through March: A brief summary

The title of my blog now seems rather ironic. I’m sure no one has any idea where I am! Contrary to popular belief, however, I have not fallen off the face of the earth. It’s time for a brief recap of the past months.

January was too warm in Alaska but the National Cross-Country Ski Championships were held there anyway at Kincaid Park, where I used to race when I was younger. My friend Liza, who lived in Norway the same year I did, had come from her home in New York to race. I spent a few days out on the racecourse, camera in hand, soaking up the Alaskana of it all, chatting intermittently with various skiers I knew a few years ago. My old ski coach, Holly, raced really well and made the US Olympic Team! We were beyond excited for her. Liza and I spent some time doing very Alaska things, ice skating in Town Square, skiing off-trail at Hatcher Pass, and eating Moose’s Tooth pizza.

Christmas break seemed to last about 4 days, and soon I was back in Lugano, moved into a luxurious new apartment with the same lovely roommates I had last semester, Quinn and Kayla. We are now situated at the top of a hill about 200 meters from our school, with a real kitchen, living room, couch, veranda and private lawn complete with palm trees! The dark blue silhouettes of sweeping mountains rise behind the surrounding buildings and vegetation… it’s really beautiful. Seen below: my new desk, the “CouchSurfer’s Corner” we have set up for visitors (in use in the picture, normally there’s just the mattress and no luggage), and a family breakfast in our kitchen! (No worries, it’s English Breakfast tea in the Jack Daniels bottle Ryan’s holding).

School started, and I began studying Non-Western Literature, Human Geography, and Intro to Communications (in addition to French and Italian, which remain by far my favorites).  It’s a pretty good class lineup, the timing works nicely and I don’t hate any of my classes, but I’m not really passionate about anything except the languages, and putting in so much time and effort into things that don’t inspire me is starting to get to me a little bit.

On the plus side, going to school here usually involves its fair share of fun and adventures.  Quinn, Ryan and I went to Milan spontaneously one evening, as I believe I posted about shortly afterwards.  Then Kyle came to visit for almost two weeks, which involved a ski expedition to Andermatt (in a major snowstorm, in which Kyle and our friend Karen got lost for hours and ended up in another village), an afternoon spent walking to Gandria, and a lot of amazing food.  One day we woke up to several inches of snow on the ground, and it was a day for snowmen and snowball fights and sledding alongside pink castles on borrowed cafeteria trays.  Incredibly good times.

A few days after the snowfall, Kyle left Lugano by train and moved to Paris.  I visited him the next weekend for Valentine’s Day, the photographic results of which can be found a few posts down.  It was an amazing weekend with very lucky weather despite the cold, doing classic touristy things and eating everything delicious.  Think Notre-Dame, the Luxembourg Gardens, the Eiffel Tower, grocery shopping at local street markets, the Sacre-Coeur, crepes and croissants and rich hot chocolate… and French!  I never wanted to leave (je ne voulais jamais partir!) but schoolwork must unfortunately be completed.  On the last night we semi-coincidentally found ourselves in a huge Carnival parade, doing some sort of synchronized dance moves amidst throngs of costumed participants, while illuminated cathedrals surrounded us and the Eiffel Tower sparkled in the background… unforgettable weekend!

I returned to Lugano and resumed the academic life, sad and feeling dissatisfied with my current areas of study, although this was brightened by the presence of two lovely CouchSurfers from Argentina, and later, one of Kayla’s friends visiting from Spain.  I’ve been feeling very worn out recently, ready for something new, although what that will be I have yet to decide.  It will be sad to leave Switzerland, but I need to feel excited about what I’m learning and inspired by the immediate environment.  On the plus side, I leave tomorrow for a week and a half in Serbia and Croatia with Quinn, about 20 other students, and an intimidating Serbian professor.  It could not be a better time to leave campus for a while.  Former Yugoslavia, here we come!

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