Cheese and Chocolate and Cream, Oh My!

Today was a busy day! First we drove to the Gruyere cheese factory. We took a tour and then were given samples! My friend gave me hers. I was so happy.

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Say cheese!

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The cheese is made in large jacoozis.

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We found some more cows. The one on the right is made entirely out of CHOCOLATE!

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After the Gruyere factory, we drove to the little town of Gruyere. This has to be one of my favorite places in Switzerland. It’s so quaint. There’s a castle and a museum and lot of little restaurants.

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The castle is really old. It was raining steadily all day, but we still had a good time!

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This is some of us on the wall of the castle. The view is amazing!

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The picture on the right is the cafe that made us all gain 10 pounds. Gruyere is famous for its Double Creme. This thick, rich cream is about 45 percent fat. Depending on the season it is served with strawberries or raspberries.

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Pictures don’t accurately portray how thick and delicious this cream is.

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Yea, I’m a little excited. This is one of the main reasons I wanted to come this summer. I LOVE THIS STUFF. I was so satisfied.

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Capturing the moment.

We then drove a short distance to the Cailler factory. Cailler was the first chocolate factory in Switzerland. It is what made the Swiss famous for chocolate! We walked through an automated tour and then were able to sample probably 20 different kinds of chocolate. Needless to say, today was a bit of an overload on fattening food for us. We all could use some hardcore exercise.

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Cailler is located at the bottom of some mountains. The clouds were clinging to the mountain tops. It looked so beautiful.

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At the end was a giant counter where we could taste as many chocolates as we wanted! Everyone ate too many and felt sick afterward, but who can say no to free chocolate? Not to mention Switzerland’s finest!

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After having a dance party in our room, we feel a little healthier. Tomorrow we are going to play laser tag in Geneva in the afternoon. Hopefully we’ll work up a sweat! Until then, bonne nuit!

 

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I Don’t Know

Bonjour!

So, things have been picking up here. Between classes and excursions we sleep well every night. Lots happens every day!

On Thursday we got out of class at noon, as usual, and then Gielle and I went to Geneva. We walked down the hill to the bus stop and made our way into town. We walked around for a while. I’ve wanted to have really good coffee here, but I never know where to go so we walk around until we get tired without ever finding a place. I need to change that. We walked the city until 7:30 p.m. and then found a place to grab dinner. It was a little restaurant that served mostly yogurt, cake, and coffee (go figure). We were hungry for food food. I ordered the gaspacho and she got a green smoothie. They left us a whole basket of bread that was delicious. All for 7 euros! It was really a score. Then we trekked up the hill. We chatted with some of the girls and then hit the hay.

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This is miss Gielle. You’ll probably be seeing her in a lot of photos.

Fridays are nice fore me because I only have 2 hours of class. It starts at 10, so I usually miss breakfast and just eat some bread in my room. We lounged around yesterday instead of going into town. There was a large group attending some meetings that were held in one of the auditoriums, so dinner was delayed. As a result, we had Friday night worship on the field outside the central building on campus. It was really nice out.

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This is some of our group here. Starting from the left: me, Nathalia, Rachel, Gielle, and Michelle. Maddi was gone Friday afternoon and Sabbath spending some time with a friend who is traveling here in Europe.

Today we made it to Sabbath school on time (hooray!) and then went to church. We did more lounging this afternoon. I’m having such a fun time here. At first I had a bad attitude and wasn’t taking advantage of being here. But I’ve met some really amazing people and I’m having so much fun!

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From church earlier today. And this is Michelle. She’s here learning French with her husband Ricardo because they’re moving to Belgium as missionaries and need to know the language. They are some of the sweetest people ever! (And how fantastic does she look for being 32?!)

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I hope everyone had a good Sabbath. Tomorrow we leave at 8 to visit the Gruyere and Cailler factories. Cheese and chocolate. I couldn’t be more excited!

United Nations, Geneva

Wednesday we took a trip to the United Nations office in Geneva, Switzerland. It was really cool! I can’t really tell you in detail where each picture is from in the building, but you can find out all of the information about the office here. We had a tour guide who spoke in English, but there were a lot of times I couldn’t hear her clearly. Everyone was really tired too.

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This was one of the conference rooms they let us sit in. They have translators in the very top levels. Each person has headphones and can listen to the meeting in his own language.

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This was probably my favorite thing about the office. This is another conference room. The ceiling cost 20 million dollars to make. The plaster stalagmites (stalactites?) hang from the ceiling. Paint was shot up by large pipes. We weren’t able to go into the room or see it up close, but it’s even more amazing in real life.

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A view of one of the walkways. The architecture is truly majestic.

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Every room was different.

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The famous meeting room with the world-renowned symbol on the wall. Everything echoes in this room. It was truly amazing.

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We were greeted by peacocks outside. How majestic is that?! Having peacocks roam the grounds. You go, Switzerland. You know how it’s done.

I still have more catching up to do, but it’s time for dinner. Maybe afterwards. Happy weekend everyone!

Busy Busy Busy!

I feel like we have been to so many places in so little time. Yesterday we climbed Mount Saleve behind the school.

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This is the mountain in mid afternoon and at sunset. The little dots in the photo on the left are little people parachuting. We aren’t allowed to do it while we’re at the school because of insurance matters, but I really want to try it! Although I got a whole new view of it from the top.

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The hike was about 3 miles I’d say, and it was really steep. At one point we were walking through a tunnel in the rocks where the steps were to our mid thighs. We sweated like crazy, but there was a breeze so that was nice. The view at the top and the feeling of accomplishment were worth it.

The photo on the left was the view from the front side, down towards the campus, and the photo on the right is of some snowy alps behind us.

 

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There were fields of wild flowers in pinks and purples and yellows. Dandelions the size of my fist were littered everywhere. While the sight was breathtaking, it also took my breath away in the form of sneezes. My allergies kicked in quite readily and my eyes and nose were bothering me for the rest of the day. Well, you can’t win ’em all, can you?

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This is my new friend Njord from Norway. He wanted me to take a picture of him blowing a dandelion, not on the stem, but out of his mouth. He popped the whole thing in and then tried to blow out gradually. After about seven attempted tries, this is how it turned out! He wanted to caption this, “Breathing Nature.” It was more like spitting nature.

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Here’s a group picture of a few of us who made it to the top first! Starting from the left: Maddi, me, Njord, Max (from Australia), and Rachel. Max has some charcoal smeared on his face for a wild jungle look.

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This was genuine. Rachel had just finished saying we looked like soccer moms. Apparently soccer moms are sweaty and look like a mess?

Once we reached the top, there was an added distance we could walk to the point where the parachuters took off from. From the air they graceful and carefree. But it’s not that easy. The person going to parachute needs to be on a cliff that’s windy. His cords can’t be tangled or the wind could pick him up and smash him against the rocks. He has to jump when a gust of wind comes, taking a running start. As soon as he is in the air, he adjusts his cords and the backpack apparatus he wears, and tucks his legs in. There are over a dozen parachuters flying at any given time, so he has to be alert of his surroundings. Seeing the take off process firsthand made me want to try it a little less. I never saw anyone land on the top, but I’m assuming it would be trick and somewhat frightening. Still, they look so beautiful up there.

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That wraps up our hike to Mount Saleve. We got back to the campus Saturday evening and were so exhausted we went to bed at 10. But we were up bright and early the next day.

Every Sunday there are full-day excursions planned for us. Today we went to La Clusaz, (a small mountain town), and Annecy, a town on a lake. You know how they say in Southern California you can go to the beach and the snow in the same day? Well, that’s true in parts of France as well! First we visited Annecy. We had a couple of hours of free time so we lounged around the lake and ate our sack lunches the chefs made for us.

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It was quite nice, but really warm after a while. I think we all got a bit too much sun. Light headaches followed.

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Maddi looking out at the water.

Okay this is getting really long. So we drove up to La Clusaz and went on a luge! It was really cool actually. Then we walked around the little picturesque mountain town and ate ice cream while listening to a live band. They were having some sort of annual music festival so there were different bands playing. It was nice.

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We took gondolas to get to the top of the luge run.

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The girls at the bottom of the course.

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This is me being way too excited to ride it. Let’s be honest. I was being really cautious and using the breaks way too much.

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I love mountain towns.

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Our coffee and coconut ice cream to end our outing. We arrived back at the school, ate dinner, and then did homework. It’s after 1 a.m. here and I’m gonna crash! Bonne nuit

 

 

Church in Collonges

We have a few minutes right now before we climb Mount Saleve behind the school so I’m gonna post.

This morning we slept in and missed Sabbath School (shame on us) and breakfast. We ate the pull apart bread with mustard and some butter and apples we smuggled from the caf. We’ve learned that in order to survive, smuggling is necessary. It was quite a while before we realized the time. We scrambled to get ready for church and then hiked up the hill to it.

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As soon as we entered the church, we knew something was off. There was only one other person in the program there. We sat in the back row. Rachel and Maddi had a more difficult time understanding, but I could comprehend almost everything that was said. The service was very dynamic. There were many readings and songs. At one point in the program a group of women danced to a song in Hebrew. The church seems very relaxed and quite contemporary. Today’s message was all about the joy that comes from living in Christ and sharing with others. at the end of the service the children exited first. They stood at the doors and gave each member a balloon. After everyone had exited the church, all of the balloons were released. It was really sweet.

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We ate lunch and are getting ready to go on our hike now. I’ll post pictures tonight, or maybe tomorrow if I’m not too tired. We’re going to Annecy tomorrow, so that’ll be a full day. And we also have homework. No more free time wondering what to do anymore!

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Finally Friday

It’s finally the weekend! School starts at 8 a.m. for us each morning and ends at noon. In the afternoons we have various activities planned. Yesterday we went rock climbing on a boulder at the base of Mount Saleve (the mountain behind the school). Several times a week we have worship where we sing both English and French songs. Tonight’s worship thought was given in French, but there was a translator for the people in the beginning levels of French. It was similar to first service, or the Friday night worship service in the states. There were quite a few people from the community who I had never seen before.

Today we got out of class and cleaned the bathroom and the hallways. There are 16 plus girls living on our hall. Let me tell you, it wasn’t an enjoyable experience. The cleaning equipment wasn’t quite up to par, but we did our best. I’m very tankful we don’t have to get that intimate with the bathrooms for several more weeks.

After cleaning we needed a break. Rachel was tired so she stayed back, but Maddi and I decided to go to Geneva. We walked down the hill and caught the 44 bus. Then we took the number 12 tram to the heart of the city. We walked around and found the Jet D’eau, a huge fountain on the lake. (Well, I guess it’s technically in the lake). The 459 foot tall water spout was created by to release pressure in a hydraulic power network. People saw its grandeur and decided to move it. It sure is a spectacle. At any given time there are 1,849 gallons of water in the air. We can even see the fountain from the campus! We enjoyed some gelato and watched the Jet D’eau for a while and then moved on.

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My travel buddy!

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My pistachio and tiramisu gelato and the Jet D’eau.

There are so many beautiful buildings in Geneva. There’s a hustle and bustle that makes the city feel alive. Trams and trains and busses weave in and out of city streets. Lots of people ride Vespas or motorcycles. Contrary to the constant movement of traffic, people take their time. Couples can be seen laying in the grass or enjoying a leisurely cup of coffee together. It truly is a society that knows the value in taking a break from busy everyday life. I think this is something we should try to learn in the U.S.

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The wires for some of the buses and trams.

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This was a random swimming pool in the middle of the river. It looked exclusive and actually like a lot of fun.

We wanted to grab a map of the city, so we stopped by a tourist information center. Right by the doorway was one of the cows! These cows are all over Switzerland in different places. They are all painted differently. It’s fun to see them because they are in very unexpected places. This is me showing some love to the cow.

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We grabbed snacks (bread, tortilla chips, mustard, tea, meringues, and several types of chocolate) and headed back up the mountain. After worship we came to our room and here I am. Tomorrow after church we are going up the Saleve. I’m really excited! It’s bedtime here so I’ll write more later. Bonne nuit

Geneva Catch-Up

So the other day my iPad wasn’t letting me put pictures in my post. Thanks to Maddi and her computer, I can finally show you the pictures!

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Some old, beautiful buildings. I love how patriotic Switzerland is. The flag can be seen hanging from lots of windows.

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There are lots of swans and ducks on the river that juts into the city. Sometimes they will even eat food out of your hand!

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They’re so graceful.

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Maddi and my pastries. She got a raspberry-chocolate mousse and I got a slice of black forest cake. They were delicious.

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And here are my travel buddies all pooped out from walking all day. Geneva was fun, but tiring. Now you should be all caught up on our first Geneva trip. There will be more to come, I’m sure!

Geneva

Salut! It’s been a few days since I’ve written. We have been getting accustomed to the new time. (But actually, not really though. We are all exhausted and don’t sleep well at night. I have never had jet lag this bad before in my life). It’s been surprisingly easy to wake up though. The sun comes up early and sets at around 10 pm. This coming Saturday it will be the longest day of the year!

The weather has been really nice. It’s been in the 80s during the day and cool and misty in the mornings. It rained yesterday, which was refreshing. I’ve been craving rain so much since we hardly got any this summer I’m Southern California. The grounds of the school are really nice. The grass is green and bright flowers are planted everywhere. I haven’t taken pictures or the campus yet, but I promise I to and will post them when I do.

We started our classes this morning. I placed into intermediate French. Growing up my dad spoke French to me. I was exposed to it at an early age, but didn’t write or read it extensively. Surprisingly, I tested into one of the higher levels. I was worried that I’d be behind at first, but I feel as though my classmates are at the same level. We read a lot and then discuss the text in class. It gives us the opportunity to speak a lot, which is really helpful. The teacher, Gosia, (pronounced Go-shia), won’t speak a word of English to us. She won’t even let us explain something to the other students in English. We have to try our best to explain in broken French. It’s challenging, but it really makes us learn it.

This afternoon we went to Geneva. We walked for almost three solid hours. I love Geneva so much. The old buildings are beautiful and there are so many unique things to see. Since taking Intro to Graphic Design I notice design in public places a lot more. Switzerland has some very cool design.

 

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This clock is made entirely of flowers. How cool is that?!

I was planning on posting more photos but WordPress is telling me there’s am http error, even though the picture above is the same format. So unfortunately I can’t share the others right now.  I’ll try to post them tomorrow. Until then!

Collonges, Summer 2014

Bonjour! After much planning and waiting, my sister Rachel, my cousin Maddi and I are in France! Well, we’re not in France yet. We’re staying at my aunt’s house in Switzerland. But we’ll be in France later this afternoon. We’re going to take six weeks of French classes at Collonges, the Adventist college in France. After a long journey, we’re finally here inSwitzerland! image We took a red eye from LAX to Zurich. Of course, we were seated directly next to the toilet for our 11 hour flight. But everything else went well. The food on Swiss air was surprisingly good. We had pasta, bread rolls, and salad. My only complaint was that they didn’t have ginger ale. That’s my go-to in-flight drink! image   We landed in Zurich around 8 am, U.S. time. We were supposed to have about a half hour from the time we got off of the plane to get to our second flight. We got through customs with ten minutes to reach our terminal. We were running through the airport. As we ran up, we saw that our flight had been moved from terminal 54 to 86. With 5 minutes left til boarding, we sprinted like mad men through the entire airport to get to the opposite wing. We arrived and walked right on to the plane, sweating and panting. It was definitely a close call.   image We later found out that the change of terminals was because the plane we were originally going to take had some sort of malfunction. Our second flight was on a smaller plane and only lasted for 35 minutes. On the first flight we were seated in the middle. But this second one we could look out the windows. I can’t even express how happy I am to be back here in Switzerland. I have such a love for this country. It’s absolutely beautiful.   image My aunt and uncle picked us up from the airport in Geneva and took us back to their house. We freshened up and then ate a delicious dinner of carrot cappuccino soup, (it’s spicy and savory), salad, and salmon. My aunt is such an amazing cook. It’s gonna be a big shock when we get to Collonges and have caf food for every meal. Yay.   image This is our dinner. Be jealous! This morning we are just taking it easy. We had another delicious meal of croissants, bread, and 4 minute eggs. We’re taking our time getting ready and then are heading over to the school this afternoon to move in! I’ll try to post again soon, but we’ll be in orientation and taking placement tests, so I can’t make any promises. A tout à l’heure!