Zurich: Obviously, the place to prove your fluency in Norwegian…

Given my extreme motivation in the past few days, I have acquired enough free time to experiment a little with HDR.  I am particularly pleased with the following image.


This weekend was awesome.  On Friday, I caught the 19.12 train from Lugano with Greg, speaking loud, grammatically correct Norwegian all the way to Arth-Goldau.  Greg continued to Bern; I hopped on train towards Zurich, which proved to be infinitely more amazing of a place than I had imagined.  I found myself totally overwhelmed by the abundance of streetcars, gliding along in every conceivable direction on a complex series of cables, a series of which I had to maneuver in order to reach my hostel.  It struck me, as I was going to bed, that sleeping alone is something I have grown entirely unaccustomed to.  What is sleep without the initial chatter of my roommates outside the bedroom door, the gentle jostling of the bunk bed whenever Quinn rolls over below me, the maddening series of ringing alarm clocks every morning starting at 4 AM?  Although it was a strange contrast, sleeping in uninterrupted silence turned out to be incredibly refreshing, and I awoke to beams of warm sunlight illuminating the room.  Realizing I was late, I wolfed down a hurried breakfast and threw myself back onto the bustling maze of Zurich’s tram system, making multiple hectic transfers and finally arriving at Zurich’s university minutes before my Norwegian exam was scheduled to begin.

Walking into the classroom was like entering a miniature Norway discreetly hidden away on a Swiss university campus.  Everyone was Norwegian to the fullest extent – names, origins, language- everything except their citizenships, which were, through complicated series of events, Swiss.  Eyebrows were raised in surprise at my American passport, accompanied by a “what-are-you-doing-here” kind of look and exclamations of “But you don’t have an accent at all!”  What better compliment exists for the AFS returnee?  I was delighted, and the test went fine.  The only areas of confusion were areas that would have been equally perplexing in English.  (When there are 6 ways to say one thing – which is the test asking for?)

After six hours, hands sore from writing, I handed in my answer sheet and burst through the doors into the glorious Swiss sunshine.  Wandering in whatever direction intuition took me, I found myself amidst the narrow streets of Zurich’s old town, taking in the bustling afternoon atmosphere packed with shops, cafes, and smiling people dressed in breezy summer wear.  Zurich’s skyline, full of steeples and picturesque spires, lined either side of a river, which I followed until I found a park, promptly taking a nap in the grass.  Beautiful day!  After stumbling upon the train station later, I noticed a typical big cathedral thing right next to it.  Not particularly interested, but with time to kill, I circled around to the backside of it and was absolutely amazed.  The cathedral, or whatever it was, was more of a castle than anything else, covered in towers and spires and accompanied by a garden full of blossoming trees alongside a river.  It was stunning, and right next to the train station! I soon headed back to Lugano, and spent yesterday laying in the sun and seeing my roommates’ play, “Fools”, a Soviet romantic comedy, which was really impressive given all the setbacks they’ve encountered.

Before I head off to the library, I will leave you with this week’s Tips for Budget Life:

1)  Do not, ever, buy coffee by the cup unless there’s a social function involved.  Get a whole jar of instant NesCafe powder for the price of three cappuccinos instead.  Now you don’t have to wait for obnoxious opening hours, either.

2)  Your bathtub is totally a washing machine.  Don’t waste money on overpriced laundry credit!  Hang your dripping clothes outside and hope that you won’t be allergic to them when you put them on later.

3) When you feel your body weakening, your thoughts drifting, your energy dropping – your budget diet is clearly lacking in something.  Yet those fresh vegetables or vitamins are so expensive.  Solution: Frozen vegetables.  Not as good as the real thing, but cheap, and they last forever, and you’ll have eaten at least one green thing today, however mushy it may have been once it thawed.

In other news, I am now researching communication differences between women and men.  The findings, shockingly true, correspond to more or less every interaction I have ever had with a male (except Nic, the anomaly) and provide thorough explanations for every action and frustration.  In fact, there are so many causes for mutual frustration simply due to the ENTIRELY different ways in which men and women process the world, that it is hard not to feel like cross-gender communication is a an impossible task that should never be so much as attempted.  This is irrational, I know, but man. People should at least read this book.


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