I had an absolutely fantastic time in Switzerland! Although it was short, I managed to cram in lots of exciting visits. It was my first time travelling abroad during the Christmas holidays – and I would definitely do it again! The travelling was one of the easiest parts, because the public transport is so reliable in Switzerland. Ironically, the most difficult part was getting home from the airport afterwards!
My first full day was spent in Bern, the capital. My aunt (who I was staying with) gave me an amazing opportunity to have a tour around the Bundeshaus (Swiss parliament building), which few people get to see in such detail. I just really enjoyed seeing the beautiful interior and learning strange stories about the building.
For example, in the curved Wandelhalle, there is a painting of the figure of Heavenly Justice. Her eyes follow you out the room! Also, all the British people in the paintings have red hair, and no one really knows why.
I went to Konstanz, in Germany, to visit my exchange partner again and see the famous Christmas market. It was lovely to see – maybe the time to really see Germany looking beautiful is at Christmas! It was very cold, but the frost made everything even prettier. I even got to see a very cute kindergarten nativity play, but I didn’t expect Joseph to be wearing a Bavarian hat! It was amazing to see everyone again as well: it’s so great to have that connection with Germany.
Towards the end of the week, I had the chance to go to school with my oldest cousin. She is in Gymnasium, the Swiss equivalent of a high school. I can’t believe how tough the school system is! It starts very early in the morning – 7.10am on some days – and the lessons are much longer than I’m used to. The German literature lesson I attended was 2 hours long, but really interesting. The class were discussing a book I’d read so it was great to be able to take part. It was actually quite nerve-racking, because understanding the language was more difficult than I’d expected. I really enjoyed it though!
No visit to Zurich can be complete without a trip to the Lindt und Spruengli chocolate factory. The Christmas displays were absolutely magical and my suitcase was just loaded with treats when I came back.
Overall, I had a lovely time, and I really discovered how much I enjoyed travelling alone. I’m trying to accept as many opportunities I can while I’m at university, because I think it’s the best time to just agree and accept the consequences afterwards!