On Tuesdays my first two lessons are French and English, neither of which I have to go to, so this week I took the opportunity to sleep in a little, and take the bus a little later. Unbeknownst to me, the route that the eight o clock bus took was a little more scenic than the seven o clock one, and I ended up getting a round-the-village trip before arriving at school. I sat in the bus, staring out the window at the rolling hills covered in a fresh dusting of snow, as the snowflakes on my jacket melted, and Kanye West blasted in my headphones, and I thought about joy.
I was ridiculously excited when it started snowing last week. Snow is pretty rare in winter where I live- sure, it’s up on the mountains a little bit, and there was a very light snowfall on the ground last year, but it’s not something that I’ve ever really seen much. Snow is ridiculously beautiful- winter [aesthetically, at least] was already my favorite season, and I’m really excited to be here for a whole winter where I’ll get to experience that. But I’m definitely going to stick with taking the bus- kudos to my tough-as-nails host sister who is still biking to school every morning in -2 degree temperatures, but I have a prepaid ticket to all public transport in Switzerland, so…yeah. [I mean, she does as well, but you know, whatever. I’m definitely not being a wimp. Definitely not. Right?]
So anyway, snowflakes. Catching snowflakes on my tongue led to me thinking about how happy I was to be catching snowflakes on my tongue, which led me to thinking about how much I like being really happy and excited about little things. Or, you know, big things. I was bought up to appreciate the importance of happiness and joy, and the value of being grateful for things. That’s something that I have really relied on the past few months- this whole exchange year thing is a huge, exciting adventure, and a part of big adventures is homesickness. The worry of being in a new, different place, of meeting and getting to know new people, and doing a lot of it relatively on my own. [Although my host family are ridiculously supportive and loving- seriously, wonderful people!]
Something else that I’ve really relied on is remembering the importance of looking at the big picture. In ten years, in twenty years, when I’m 150 years old and beginning to show signs of ageing, what am I going to look back on and think “Wow, I’m so glad I did that!”? What am I going to remember? What am I going to regret not doing? Answering those questions is usually pretty important in a lot of my big decisions- sure, it’s going to be hard, and not all days are going to have fun-time-super-magical-adventures, but hell, going to school for a year in Switzerland is definitely something that I’d regret not doing.
Looking at the big picture, for me, means taking a deep breath and thinking- hey, it’s all going to work out. Look at the good things, the bad things won’t last, and if they do, find a way to deal with it and make the problems disappear. [Although, again, I’ve had an incredibly easy, happy time so far- believe me, I’ve heard horror stories about other exchange students!] And I cannot believe I’m saying this, Mum, but you’ve been more of an influence on my spirituality than I’d care to admit- but also trusting that the universe will take care of things.
These are all things that I’ve been thinking about a lot ever since it started snowing. I don’t why- maybe as winter settles in over this little valley I’m starting to look inwards at myself more. So like, dragon breath equals deep thinking? Probably.
I know I haven’t blogged in over a month- sorry about that! I’ve been mostly enjoying life- had a week in bed due to the flu and Mother Nature, but bounced back last weekend for a classmates birthday party. She’d rented a cabin in the woods- and yes, I am just as surprised as anyone that is wasn’t gatecrashed by a serial killer! About five of us stayed to sleep the night there after an evening of food and music and
alcohol fruit juice- it was a tiny, cosy Scout’s cabin, and had a huge woodfire, so despite the snow I didn’t need any of the merino fleeces that I’d bought along.
Last night Lionel and I went to see a live musical of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, with his grandparents Nani and Bernie. They had very generously bought tickets for us [Runa had other engagements], and also treated us to dinner beforehand, during which they told me to use the informal ‘du’ pronouns when chatting to them! Around 95 percent of our conversation was in German, so I think I’m getting better. The show was AMAZING- costumes, lighting, singing, props, the backdrops. All incredibly elaborate and colorful and I enjoyed it immensely! Afterwards we went back to their house, and stayed the night. In the morning there was a brand new, thicker layer of snow, and I enjoyed walking back to the train station, kicking and stomping like a two year old surrounded by puddles. Lionel side-eyed me quite a bit, hardened Swiss that he is.
Tonight I just got back from a Adventszeit parade. Adventszeit is of course the start of the Advents calendar, which is a religious thing that I’ve never really known much about, but it’s a relatively big deal here. Even with the Wehrlis- just after lunch Gabriella gave me a tin filled with Ferrero Rocher chocolates, all with numbers from 1-25 on. It’s a slightly improvised version of those calendars where you open a door each day and get a bit of chocolate- us three kids got one each, and seeing as tomorrow is the first of December, I can’t wait!
The Adventszeit parade was held just as night was falling- children marched down the main street of Ennenda, some carrying giant flaming torches, some [younger children with parents guiding them] held decorated paper lanterns, and around 15 of the older boys each had giant cow bell around their necks, and were clanging them in a rather impressive rhythm. I put a video on Facebook if you want to see four minutes of near darkness interspersed with tall flames and an eerie clanging noise.
I have three weeks left of school, and I’m going to be busy- I’ve got an excursion with my German class next Thursday. We get back at midnight, so I’ll have plenty of rest for Friday, when we are given the names of our Secret Santa [or, well, something like that]. Those are drawn on the last day of school- also Runa’s birthday and the day before I fly to England for the two week Christmas holiday. I’ve also got to make lot’s of Christmas cards, attend at least one party, write many packing lists [packing is the best part!!! Gosh I feel like such a dork saying that!!!], plan what I’m going to try and see in England while I’m there, go and see Catching Fire and The Hobbit in Zurich, do homework, marathon Xena: Princess Warrior, go for as many walks as I can, and take time to appreciate everything. Because you know what they say about time, and if it’s flying, I want to fly with it.