I swear I blink here and the days are over. Everyday I look at my to-do list and find myself wishing I had a few more hours to get everything done. For the past week+ I’ve been meaning to blog, but it’s been put on the back burner of my schedule since my last post.
So! Here’s a quick little update on things overall and then I’ll get to my first trip of the semester!
School here is going pretty well (I think). I had my first Italian test today, a quiz in Global Media, and was supposed to have a presentation in Art History (class was cancelled) yesterday. So you can see how blogging just hasn’t happened. Classes here are different than what I’m used to at home. I don’t know how to describe them really besides telling you that I’m not really sure what I do in them or learn in them everyday… so it should be a really interesting and information semester!
In regards to how I’m personally doing, all is well! I have had a few days that haven’t been as good as others. Tired, missing home, sick of rainy weather. But in the grand scheme of things, everything is going really well. I’m trying hard to keep up on sleep, which is not an easy task when there’s something to do every night of the week and travel plans a lot of the weekends. Eating healthy has never been my strongest suit… so I’m just sticking to the motto “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” and hoping for the best. I walk everywhere and have used the gym here a few times. Kailee and I even went for a run along the river one evening last week; way better than staring at the wall a foot away from your face on the treadmill.
Now for the super fun (and long) part!
This past weekend was the first trip of the semester: Interlaken, Switzerland.
Day 1 (Thurs): This trip was planned through a company called Bus2Alps, which plans traveling, stay and some activities for students traveling Europe. Lucky for us, there are many departures out of Rome making these trips extremely accessible. We met at Termini Station Thursday evening with a group of about a million kids. Termini is pretty close by – and by pretty close here I mean about three miles walk – but because we had larger bags and it was raining we decided to take the bus. The sweaty, crowded, good old bus. It was an interesting experience to say the least. From Termini we got on coach buses and began the 11-12 hour ride to Interlaken. After a few movies, a pit stop, and some restless sleep we found our way to day 2 and to the beautiful, beautiful city of Interlaken, Switzerland.
Day 2(Fri): Upon arrival at Balmers Herberge Hostel, we grabbed our room keys, ran upstairs and got situated. This was my first hostel stay and I was anxious to see what kind of accommodations I would be working with for the weekend. Kailee, Katie, Elizabeth and I were in a room of 8 – joined by four other girls who attend John Cabot: Sarah, Sarah, Stephanie, and Rachel. To begin the day K, K, and E headed down the street to get fitted for skiing gear. Being the novice winter-outdoor-sports-woman that I am, I figured the Swiss alps weren’t the easiest option for my first time skiing. I spent the day walking around with a large group of kids also on the bus2alps trip, snapping lots of photos, attempting to go iceskating (it was indoors… so pass!), and hanging out. It was very relaxing and the perfect day for it. We arrived to a fresh, light blanket of snow and some flakes still flying. It was an extremely picturesque day in the mountains to say the least. We cooked food that we had brought in the hostel kitchen for dinner that evening and then headed down to the Metro, aka basically the only bar in Interlaken, so conveniently located downstairs in our hostel. It was an early night because day 3 had a lot in store!
Day 3 (Sat): We woke up around 9 to ensure that we wouldn’t miss the free hostel breakfast. Having a little time to kill, we strolled around town and down by the river again before heading back to the hostel, bundling up, and getting in the van to go to Scenic Air. Yup… SKYDIVING.
I can’t tell you how many times in the day we reminded ourselves that this would be a day that we would never forget. The airport was about 20 minutes away and the drive was stunning (and scary) as we wound up the mountains and around the lakes. Energy was high and smiles were large as we pulled up to the airport and began receiving instructions on the jump. The 12 of us going at this time got our jumpsuits and met our instructors. Mine was a New Zealander named Tim.
Elizabeth, Kailee, Katie, and I were on the first plane up. CRAZY. Couldn’t believe we were 1). in the swiss alps, 2). trusting my entire life to a complete stranger, and 3). about to JUMP OUT OF AN AIRPLANE. The flight was about 15 minutes and again was absolutely beautiful. I wish pictures were able to do it justice.
Jump time came. A few solo jumpers threw themselves out the door, then went Katie, then Elizabeth, then Kailee, and finally me. People have asked me if I was scared to jump. Scared isn’t the right word. As cheesy as it sounds the feeling was indescribable. I don’t know if I’ve ever smiled so continuously, clapped, cheered, and laughed so much in one stretch of time at any other point in my life. As nervous and anxious as I was to be free falling through the air, the excitement overpowered it all. My turn came quickly. I dangled my feet out of the plane, held on to my harness, and leaned my head back and it was go time. I’m not really sure what was going through my mind at the time of the initial jump. (Probably some swear words.) But once we were out and I was looking around, it was hard to catch my breath. Figuratively and literally.
Bye bye, plane!
The free fall only lasted about 45 seconds but seemed like 20 minutes. Toward the end I was anxious for the parachute, not because I was nervous or scared, but because I wanted to slow down and catch my breath. I don’t know if it was the speed at which we were falling, the high altitude, or the adrenaline but (and you can see it in my succession of pictures) during one stretch I was seriously reminding myself to breathe. Taking in big breaths as often as I could. My only other complaint about the experience was the amount of pressure on my ears. Pretty painful. But still totally worth it. Pretty, right?
The parachute part of the fall was awesome. We slowed down and this is where I really took in exactly what was going on. At one point, I spread my arms wide and finally saw what it would be like to fly (cheesy again, whatever.) I think Tim was laughing at me as I exclaimed my excitement and shock that I had gone through with the jump. We approached the airport and landing field. Skidded on the ground to a snowy stop. I laughed, I cried (not actually), I cheered and clapped some more. I gave Tim a hug and thanked him for letting me live to see another day.
I headed back to the garage, got out of the suit, (obviously) ordered pictures, and went into the little warming room. The span spent sitting in the room, aside from when we watched others jumps, was spent talking about how crazy and cool what we had just done was. The van came again to pick us up and we were headed back to the hostel before I knew it. The experience was truly amazing. I don’t think I’ll be doing it again soon, if ever, but I wouldn’t have done it differently either. It feels pretty awesome to check that one off the bucket list. And luckily for my mom and dad, I don’t know if it can get much crazier this trip. We’ll see what I can cook up! 😉 Kidding!!!! (Maybe)
Back to the hostel, another stroll and a little window shopping around town, and then feast time. A classic Swiss fondue dinner: FONDUE, baby! Gasthofs, a restaurant and B&B a few doors down, offered a delicious and authentic three course feast. Although it may not have been the cheapest meal I’ve ever eaten, I still think it was worth every penny and am ready for round two.
Round 2: Meat, meat, meat, and more meat (in broth and oil) accompanied by potatoes, fries, veggies, fruits and an assortment of dipping sauces. I struggled fitting it all in one picture. I’m still amazed and thoroughly impressed with how much we were able to finish (in other words… basically all of it)
Round 3: Delicious Swiss milk chocolate with fresh fruit.
I basically swallowed this course whole by the time it occurred to me that I didn’t document it. So I will leave it up to your imaginations to picture. (And I’m not sorry about it.)
We concluded the night by again heading down to the Metro with our hostel roomie friends.
Day 4 (Sun): Again we woke up in time to pack up and head down to breakfast. With a few hours before departure we made our way back to the lake and snapped a few last photos.
Kailee and I got a super healthy lunch at Utopia, a wrap restaurant across the street from the hostel.
We again boarded the buses and set out for the trip home. Did a little homework, watched a few movies (winner was The Lizzie McGuire Movie), and slept on and off. We made it back to Rome around 12, grabbed a cab, and headed back to the apartment and basically straight to bed so we were “rested” for class in the morning…
The trip was seriously AMAZING. If you’ve never been to Switzerland, especially Interlaken, and have the funds and time, DO IT. I absolutely loved it and almost question if I didn’t choose the wrong country to study in. Everyone was beyond friendly and it had the little touch of home that I needed. Although I don’t think I could spend more than a weekend in Interlaken (unless I learn how to ski) or afford it for a longer period of time, I would still go back to visit again and see more of Switzerland. Did I mention how pretty it is???
It was a fabulous first trip and has me excited for all the other places I’ll get to see this semester. We just booked a flight to Croatia tonight. And I’m looking into doing a tour of Northeastern Europe for Spring Break (7 countries). I’ve been looking up concerts to attend, flights to take, ferries to ride, anything that will let me experience the most I can while I’m here. Kailee and Katie, my roommates, warned me that I was being a bit impulsive tonight (don’t worry, no major purchases) but it’s hard not to be when I have this awesome opportunity to see so much of the country.
As you can tell, I’m doing really well. Heading to Barcelona tomorrow for Kailee’s sweet 16 (21st birthday) with Kailee (duh), Elizabeth, Katie, and Hillary (one of our new friends) where we will also be hopefully meeting up with Malia, Danny, Alex, and Joe (UST friends). Should be another adventure and great time. I’m excited to see how terrible Ryan Air actually is. And more excited to see how crazy Barcelona actually is.
Thanks for reading. BTW I didn’t proof read because I would rather go to bed…. So here’s to hoping this doesn’t suck. Miss you all!!! Goodnight from Roma! xoxo