Bonjour! Guten Tag! Ciao!
Allow me to introduce myself: my name is Claire and I am a third year Brock student currently pursuing a double major in French Studies and English Literature at the University of Fribourg in Fribourg, Switzerland.
Having been in the country now just over a month, I feel it is time to put some of my thoughts onto paper. While sitting in on my Travel Writing class earlier this afternoon, it struck me just how much things have changed since my departure from Pearson Airport in late August. One month ago, I left Canada and arrived at the Geneva airport accompanied by only two 50 lb. suitcases and a huge sense of urgency to pick up my apartment key before the Off-Campus Housing office closed. I knew nothing about my surroundings, my flat mates or my classes. However, in between scribbling down notes on the Grand Tour today, I became aware of just how comfortable and familiar things have become here in Fribourg.
Things happen very quickly while you’re on exchange. Friendships are made almost immediately and it’s those new friends who help make the transition of getting settled in a new country a whole lot easier. Alongside other ISEP and Erasmus students, we dissected our course descriptions, picked our modules for the semester and navigated all the university buildings until we’d successfully found each and every one of our classes and, in turn, a better sense of understanding of our new environment.
Speaking of our new environment, the city of Fribourg is just as charming as my earlier research on Wikipedia led me to believe! Although it is a smaller city (40,000 inhabitants), a large percentage of the population is made up of students, meaning that there is always something going on. The Lower Village or “Basse-Ville” doesn’t disappoint when it comes to all things Swiss. There in the Old Town, you can find chocolate shops, fromageries and bakeries stacked high with the freshest croissants, baguettes and cream tarts. Although recognized as one of the safest countries to live in, I can already tell that the food in Switzerland is going to pose a real danger to me!
Fortunately (and unfortunately), there is one thing that deters me from buying out a whole bakery and that ‘thing’ would be the high cost of living here in Switzerland. To help put things in perspective, consider the average cost of a McDonald’s meal in Canada: a burger, fries and a drink normally will normally put you at approximately $6 or $7 CND. In Switzerland however, your delicious little Quarter Pounder with Cheese meal costs 12.50 CHF. Congratulations! You have just paid over $14 CND for what you once considered your cheap food option.
Despite the economy, I have a really good feeling about my year here in Fribourg. The people are kind and welcoming (especially those you meet along the hiking trails) and the landscape resembles that of a fairy tale setting. I’ve stocked myself up with travel discounts and train cards so as to better see the country and I’m happy to say that I have already managed to see quite a bit of it (Geneva, Lugano, Lausanne, Bern, Schwarszee).
Travel is constantly on my mind. The University of Fribourg has a five-day break at the end of the month and at the moment it looks as though I will be heading to Paris for that time! But before I go, I’m hosting a big Canadian Thanksgiving dinner for my European friends. I’m one of only three Canadians here, so we’ve got to represent that Great White North somehow! I’ll make sure to keep you updated as the weeks progress! In the meantime, if you have any questions about Switzerland, the University or are contemplating a year abroad, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
À toute à l’heure!