Friday, November 7, 2008

Sono nella Svizzera!

Buon Giorno! That's the equivalent of bonjour in Italian. And, the title says I am in Switzerland! I will be able to get around with my French for the most part, but the large majority of ppl here speak Italian. I actually got around in Milan by myself with only French!! But let's start from the's a very good place to start :)

Yesterday was a really rough day, so I decided to skip classes and just head for Paris. It's a good thing I did, too, because the train conductors decided they wanted to go on a greve. That's a strike, in case you were wondering. An Australian couple asked me if there was one going on because they had briefly read something about it, and they couldn't get to Rouen until 1800 that night. I didn't think there was, but I asked the bartender in French if there was one going on and how long it was going to last. He said he had no idea how long it would last, so I'm hoping I can get back to Paris on Wednesday morning. When I got to Paris, Emily and I went to Les Deux Magots, the place where Picasso, Hemingway, and Sartre were inspired. I felt almost existential...until I saw my 7€ bill for my hot chocolate. That's right. I paid 7€ for some hot chocolate - and it was totally worth it. It was THE best hot chocolate I have EVER had, which is good b/c the restaurant is known for it. It was almost like drinking pure chocolate soup. So fantastic!!

After the snackage, Emily and I went our separate ways. She headed for south Paris, and I went up toward Sacre Coeur and Montmartre. The hostel I was in was in a "dodgy" part of town. It wasn't a bad hostel, though. I was, however, followed by a creepy Tunisian guy that I tried losing. He mentioned that he wanted an American girl as pretty and sweet as me, blah blah blah. I finally found my hostel and said au revoir and didn't look back. When I entered Friend's Hostel, there were two blatantly American guys there. I told them about the Tunisian guy, and about an hour later, I was hangin' out w/ them in their room until 1am lol. Before that though, I talked to the co-owner of the hostel, who is from Morocco, for 30ish minutes...all in French!!! I was so proud of myself! I even got a history of the colonization of Morocco and understood all of it! Jacob, the American guy from Wisconsin, was very impressed when I told him I had only been studying a year. It's amazing what immersion into another language will do for your skills. He and Theo (the other guy) are studying at a university in the Netherlands, but they go to college in Iowa. Apparently the rumors are true: they do only have corn.

I woke up at 430 the next morning, hailed a cab in a matter of seconds, and was on my way to the bus station. The guy in there was texting while driving and kinda sleepy. It scared me to death. Fortunately, and obviously, I got there safely. He knew I wasn't French because I was struggling a little bit (who wouldn't be at an ungodly hour?), but get this: he totally thought I was Italian!!! That's a first. I've gotten Canadian, British, Minnesotan, but never Italian. And, I got Irish for the first time today, too. A Canadian who speaks w/ a British accent b/c his parents are from the UK this morning thought I was Irish. Apparently when I spoke French to him it was with an Irish accent. How weird! It's really fun experimenting with all these different accents, though. I'm still speaking w/ a heavy Chicago accent, though, and I blame it all on Theo.

Getting to Milan was mostly easy. I slept for about an hour on the flight, and Matthew (the Canadian) waited for me. It was really nice because no one else spoke English around us, and we wound up having to get the same trains to get from Bergamo to Milan. It was a little hectic since neither of us speak Italian, but we managed. :) I even was brave and once I got to Milano Central, stepped out into the city and looked for lunch on my own. I got a few sneers when I used French just by habit (the Milanese apparently detest the French), but I wound up getting a Siciliana pizza for, get this, 3.20€. A whole pizza!!! My hot chocolate cost twice as much, and I couldn't even finish this pizza! It was fabulous, though :) It was hard getting to Lugano because I missed my train by 2 minutes and had to wait another hour. What was also frustrating was when I went to the police ppl looking like a dumb tourist, only one of them spoke English, and his English wasn't even that good. I said as blatantly American as I could, "I'm lost." He said, "What did you lose?" Ugh. I knew this wasn't going to go well. So I said je suis perdu. That he understood perfectly and proceeded to help me the rest of the time in French. Thankfully I understood him.

I'll post pictures of Switzerland tomorrow, but I have included a view from my travels here.

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