Monthly Archives: February 2012

L’ecole et D’adventures


I love my music. My iTunes has 1505 songs, just my size, fits me perfectly.

Music is transportive. It can take us virtually anywhere, through time and space, over water and land. Bring your parachute. Just in case. “You can finally fly, because you’ll be lighter than air.”

On a French radio station this morning, I heard Jason Mraz “I’m Yours”. I’m really surprised at the amount of English music here. Of course, I’m scatting along. I’m glad I didn’t need to explain the lyrics this time, like I sometimes do. They’ll be singing along with no idea about what it means. “You done done me, in your bed I felt it.” Yeah they have no idea, and I’d rather not explain. Especially the “Imma nibble your ear”. What am I going to say? Je mangerais tes oreilles? It’s just not a clean translation.

Here in Europe, “Hey Soul Sister” comes on the radio, and I’m brought back half a year in time. I’m at camp in the midst of people who I love. They’re singing the lyrics which they adapted for me and my sisters. At time point in time, we’re still the invincible four sisters. In body, not just soul. This song reminds me of last summer when Becky got hit by a car, and it was a shock. It made me realise how much she mattered to me. She was hit by a Ford F150, and knocked onto a usually busy road. She was able to keep her wits about her and quickly get off the road. The driver was a tea-bag who was under the influence of something or other. It was a close call. She only needed a few days off work to recuperate, but it could easily have been fatal. I remember wondering why she got hit by a car, but now, I’m really glad that it happened. It made me realise how fragile life could be, before that same conclusion would be brandished before my eyes. Hey soul sister, I don’t want to miss a single thing you do. Unfortunately I don’t have a choice.

Listening to Alan Parsons takes me back in time also. Just close your eyes and see what I see. It’s a place I know well. The sky is blue, the sun is shining. Your dad’s sexy Sport Nautique is gently rocking in the emerald water. You can hear the birds. You can hear the faint sound of people screaming as they jump off the rocks into the fresh water. Time is flowing like a river, and the eye in the sky is blue. It’s peaceful. You can hear your dad yawn. You can smell the coconut tanning oil. You can hear the loons calling. One of your tall friends comes on a seadoo and tells you to come to their cottage for a campfire. Carry on my wayward son[s].

Even now, as I sit outside in the sunshine, with my laptop, breathing in the warm Swiss air, I could be almost anywhere under this blue sky. Just a little Coldplay and I’m in Paradise. Among the #RABBITS. It’s an inside joke.

I don’t know if there’s anything more rejuvenating than nature and music combined. It’s so nice. The Swiss air is blowing in my hair. It’s so nice here, so warm. In Canada you tend to forget during the winter how nice it is to go outside in a sweater and sit in the sun, without your fingers even being cold. There’s no snow here. That is, you only have to drive 10 minutes up a mountain side to get snow. I’m loving it here. I love my music. I love my Switzerland.

This morning in the cafeteria, there was a cat outside the door. The students let him inside and he came in and amused us. He was a cutie.

I tried not to look too conspicuous when I was taking a picture of the garbage can in the cafeteria. This is awesome.

School is really amusing here sometimes, especially English class. English is my prof’s 3rd language, and it’s really quite good. Surprisingly, I’ve learned two new words which I didn’t know existed before now. Ironical and tragicomic. They’re self-explanatory, but I didn’t know they existed until now.

There are fewer bananas here, but that’s okay. I don’t really like bananas a whole lot unless they’re in muffins. They drink more apricot juice here than I am used to. I like it though. It’s better than orange juice in my opinion.

So in my room there’s a TV (called tele) and beside it my Piano. Lol. To think that the tv would get any sweet nothings from me.

Funniest part of my day:
Kid: what’s for supper?
Dad: Omelette
Kid: noooooooooooo
Dad: silence
Self: [looooooooooooollllll… mdr.] I adore omelettes!
[kid leaves little shreds of brown egg on plate. The Dad takes them and finishes them. My eyes are bigger than UFOs]
Self: you don’t eat the egg skin? It’s the best part.
They correct me, it’s not egg skin, but brown egg. [some rapid French ensues. I laugh when they laugh ’cause I’m pretty sure there was a joke in there somewhere…]Sometimes I think I’m more comical than I’m aware of, like once, I forgot the name for birds, and called them mini planes.

I got a bit of sun on my face yesterday. I was really happy about that. I’m really glad to ditch this Canadian snowman face. “We’ve got to hold on to what we’ve got. It doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not.” Bon Jovi, did you ever stop and consider the fact that your name means beautiful Jupiter?

This is my view, while all of my friends are pent up in an institution.

Sometimes when people are practising their English on me, they say the funniest things. I was told that Taylor Swift looks just like a mouse. Interesting.

kid: [throws clothes down the stairs] that’s for the wash Mom!

For the record, I really love having two parents in the same house. And it’s not hell either!

I had a religion class today. At least, that’s what my timetable said. Let me explain.
At first, I thought it was a sex ed class.
Then it just got weird. The powerpoint which the prof was using ranged in graphics from the Crucifix, to pictures of couples being married in Catholic churches, to slightly graphic couple pictures, complete with Bible verses. The prof was a charismatic old man who talked SO fast. I prefer the boring teachers who talk slowly. Finally I concluded that they were talking about sacrament of marriage. Still, I know French is my second language but I’m not stupid you know. I draw the line of bizarre when you want to prove that God exists because love exists on earth and God is love. It was the weirdest class I’ve ever been in, with the sole exception of Anthropology (discussing world ethics, like putting baby mice in wine, or eating eggs). I would say it was an epically failed religion/sex ed class.

There is a guy in my class who is six foot something, and very kind to me. Today, while on a stair higher than him, I patted him on the head and told him he was short.

t’s 16 degrees Celsius here. I love it. Earlier today it was 20. This is the best February I’ve ever had! My friends had a snow day, and I had to explain it to my family. They were surprised. You cancel the buses because it’s cold and you have snow? Yes. They cancel the buses sometimes in the spring and fall because it’s too hot. I know right? There’s going to be some real upsides to living here. If you want snow, there’s snow though, you just need to drive up a mountain to get it.

Here they don’t call Coca-Cola “coke” but “coca”. It makes SO much more sense, because then you KNOW you’re not talking about the drug. The aforementioned tall boy who was subjected to one of my heat-pats today was trying to test my traveller-gullibility by telling me, “oh yes! Cocaine’s legal here.”
Fortunately I’m sharp… “exactly like Canada.”

As I progress (slowly) through my Canadian homework, I’m learning what’s really behind aurora borealis. My dad told me when I was young that it happened whenever the sun burped. Now when I learn that it’s the sun’s solar winds interacting with the earth’s magnetic field, I do wonder if you could also interpret that as a heliobelch.

First Day of School!


Today was my first day of school. There were countless amusing events. It’s different here. You have one class, of approximately 25 people, who have all the same classes. Your class is all in the same stream. I’m in the Economics stream. In Sion there’s a music/art school, and a math/science school. I lucked out. I’m in the math/science school. DUR. I had five classes in the morning, then three in the afternoon. Each day is different. It’s way different than having the same three classes every single day.

This is the view from my bus stop. Anyone jealous? It’s so nice here. I know that we don’t get pink skies at night quite like I love, but it’s a fair trade, instead we get pink mountaintops. To the right there are vineyards which will soon be green, I’m told. It reminds me a little bit of the agricultural innovation of Machu Picchu. They have stone walls every 15 meters, and small plateaus of vineyards. It’s so cool.

My first class was a math class. It’s so difficult here. We were doing vectors and stuff. I think that if this was my first language, and I’d been raised here, working up to this, I would thrive off of this, but, as it stands, that prof mumbles in French and writes messily on the overheads. It’s difficult for me, but my brain is working so I’m happy.

The next class was a French class. It took me so long to figure out what subject I was being taught. The teacher was nice, she talked slowly, so I understood almost everything. She’s going to let me bring a book in French and work on vocab. I’m happy about that.

Then I had an economics class. I had a hard time figuring out what it was. Their books said Commercial Arithmetic. When I introduced myself to the prof, she asked the class what the word in English was for it, but no one knew. They’re all really kind to me. Everyone is asking my partner where I am and how I’m doing. I’m like an exotic import, I think. They treat me a little bit like a new pet who doesn’t understand human speak.

After that I had an English class. The teacher is so funny. He speaks British English with a European accent. To me, it sounds like no specific dialect, just a very comical person. Believe it or not, I do learn English in these English classes. I learned that “tragicomic” was a word, much to my disbelief at the time. I can also pick up some little sensitivities of the English language, like it being bad to refer to a movie as sad, because sad usually describes a person’s reaction to a thing, rather than a thing itself. My English prof is great. He looked over some french writing of mine and helped me rewrite it. He was also able to explain to me some grammar things in English which was a bonus. He’s funny.

After that I had another class which I have no idea what the subject was. Maybe visual arts? Maybe? I doubt it though, because there was nothing like that going on. We just had computers.

Then, (and this is the best part of school here) we went home for lunch! The bus takes everyone home at 11:30, and we don’t start school again until 2:00. It’s awesome. I love coming home to a meal on the table and a Mom in the kitchen. It’s so cool. She said, “Sorry it’s not sandwishes like Canada”… lol it’s  so much better having beef, and scalloped potatoes. I’m so digging the Swiss cuisine, and the Swiss mom more so. My laundry comes to my door, washed, dried, folded, with a knock on my door and a smile. I just can’t get over that. It’s amazing.

At school again, we first had physics. Oh gosh. It’s so complicated. I think that Europe is way ahead. That’s just me.

Then we had a German class. I’m not allowed to go. 😦 I have to go work in the library instead. The library was closed, so I went to the cafeteria. I bought myself an apple there from a vending machine. It’s so cool how they sell apples in vending machines for .5 Franc. My friends laughed as I took a picture of a vending machine. I know, it’s ironic. Of all that Switzerland has to offer I’m here photographing a vending machine.

After that, we had some class which I think was law. I really couldn’t understand what we were being taught. We just kept talking about society and rights and things like that. So, that was 8 classes for me total for the day. Every day each week is different. Every Monday is the same, and so forth.

The marking system is different here. You get any number from 0-6, with one decimal place, and that’s your mark. Another difference: you need a four or higher to pass. If you fail one year of school, you repeat that year. If you fail more than one year you’re done. You can’t come back to school. There are some really sharp teeth to this school system. It shows. The students are much better behaved. I saw ONE phone out in class, and the girl was hiding it so carefully behind her pencil case, flat on the desk as if it were a calculator. People are RARELY late, and they always arrive with a desperate kind of apology. Apparently here, if you are two minutes late, you get a detention. Immediately. A two hour long detention. If you don’t show up to class, they call your parents. If your parents tell the school that you’re not at home sick, they phone the police. It’s a missing child. Hence, there’s no skipping here. The admin is way tighter. They just don’t let their kids seep out around the edges. And I hate to break it to you, my herbal loving friends, they’re not smoking up between classes. My exchange partner tells me that no people in her school smoke weed. As much as that’s hard for me to comprehend, I think it’s true. Where would they? There’s no woods. There’s only bustling streets of people. And indoors? You’ve got to be kidding me. This is Switzerland. It’s so clean. They even have carpets in their classrooms. Not to mention that they simply don’t take the risks of being late. My exchange partner’s eyes grew as wide as the rings of Saturn when I broke the news to her that approximately 1 person per class deals. I don’t think she knew that when she was in Canada, which is just as well.

I must admit, my confidence got boosted a lot today. Each time I told my professors that I had been learning French for only one year, they were shocked. Really shocked. They say I speak really well for having only one year. I’m glad to hear that because sometimes I think my French is atrocious. Thankfully I have the habit of premeditating 90% of my actions, so I make the most of my mistakes in my head. I mean, you can’t just accidentally tell a person their French is empty when you meant to say it was fast, just like you can’t say, “tomorrow I will reminisce about my dictionary” when you mean, tomorrow I will remember my dictionary.

By far the funniest part of my day was this (I’ve exerted much self-restraint in saving it thus far). People everywhere love to practise their English with me. I tell them that they can speak as much English as they want, and I will help them, but for me, I speak in French only. One guy took his liberties with this. (I think there’s something funny about Tenthorey’s in general. No matter where they live.) “Oh you’re from Canada? How are you darling? You are so so beautiful! I think I like you! You are very pretty today. You know you don’t have any photos of you on facebook! Now that I meet you I think you’re a little crazy but I think I like you. You are more pretty than I expected!” (I guess I have another creeper). I just kind of laughed and caught up with a friend I hadn’t talked to since the landing. The minute I look over my shoulder he winks at me and continues, “You are so beautiful! I’m sure I like you! I’m f***ing you tonight!” I bristled a little bit with that comment. I’m truly better behaved here, otherwise I think I may have smote him over the head. It seemed a little too casual to say that. Turns out, it is a casual thing. Like, so casual that they don’t even know what it means. He had said all this in English, and I guess it’s just another English thing that they’ve adopted and proceeded to forget the meaning. I have him on facebook, and he seemed like an okay (but crazy) person. Facebook is great because if you have me on facebook, you won’t really know too much about me. He would have no idea I’m Protestant like him, because according to facebook, I’m a Neoplatonist currently attending the Church of the Lowhanging Spaghetti Monster. Not to mention I’m a 92 year old man, who gets his friend-adding privileges taken away sometimes because he has too many teenage girls as friends. Nevertheless, now the guy thinks I was a little sour to him for no good reason. He doesn’t know he escaped the same wrath that made the Canadian boys ask if I own a gun.

I got my first Swiss handshake today. I think that guy in my class was aware of the fact that for a Canadian girl it’s really really strange for me to meet the boyfriend of one of my exchange partner’s friends and then immediately he’s in my facial space kissing me three times. It’s different.

In the cafeteria, this is hanging on the wall. Why? I don’t know. This is a very Catholic town, but it’s not a Catholic school. I had to explain to my exchange partner wha Good Friday was. But Jesus is here hanging on the wall. It’s cool to live in a place where there is religious cultural history. When driving up the mountainsides and entering smaller towns, there will be the usual “Welcome to Wherever” sign, and then a crucifix beside it.

The paper here is different too. It’s longer. Not legal sized, but longer. It’s all graph paper. For every subject. Apparently, lined paper is available, but I haven’t seen anyone use any. There’s my English prof’s writing in pencil.

A Mi Manera


Folks: It’s not for me. If I ever had any doubts, I have them no longer. The partying life is not for me. You would have to do a lot to convince me to stay up past eleven. I love to sleep. Sleep is great. Sleep is sometimes the best thing that happens in a day. It’s so tranquil. It gives you a chance to catch up on your introspection and self-awareness. I’m a sleeper at heart. I need my 9 hours a night. In my books the only good reasons to stay up late are the following:

1) I’m finishing writing a song.
2) I’m in the middle of a good book.
3) I’m thinking out my future.
4) I’m talking to God.
5) I’m looking at the stars.
6) I’m snuggly with my guitar.
7) I’m writing poetry.

The aforementioned reasons are a comprehensive consolidation of my rationale. Yesterday I was at a birthday party. All was going well. It’s probably exactly the same in Canada, except I would understand what the people are saying around me. The lights are flashing, the music is pumping, (LMFAO is the vermin of North America which has unfortunately infected Europe with its pestilence) people are dancing and drinking and presumably having a good time. We’re all dancing and singing along about how we have a hangover, and we done drunk to much fo shur. I’m going along with all this, just contemplating the irony of the whole situation. We come here, to be with friends, and celebrate a specific one, and instead we’re here drinking, and singing about drinking. But then I let that go when I reluctantly concluded that maybe she just really likes to get drunk, and that’s what she wanted for her 18th birthday. Okay then, fine by me. Enjoy yourself. Later I went and poured myself some water. Then tasted it. And it was not water. The bottle was all in German, so I asked my exchange partner what it was. Yep. Water. So I poured it into another person’s cup. Great party manners, I know right. 😛

You have no idea how disappointed I was that they were only playing North American dance music. Hello I did NOT come to Switzerland to hear more Rihanna. Where’s that European techno which influenced Owl City?

At 10:30
Self: (French) How much time are we here for?
Exchange partner: (French) my dad is picking us up in one hour.
Resignation paints a little life back into my face.
Self: (French) ok that’s great!
Exchange partner: (English) Did you understand me?
Self: oh yes, your dad is coming in one hour!
Exchange partner: no I said my Dad was coming at one.
Then of course my big puppy dog face comes down on my face like the curtains close after an act that was an epic fail.

She phoned her dad and he came to pick me up at 10:45. We stood in the parking lot with the people who were smoking. Her dad driving into the parking lot was just like a life boat coming to the Titanic. Thank God for dads. He was concerned about me. Are you okay? Is everything okay? I was relieved. I told him I wasn’t used to partying. I went home and slept. It had been a long day.

“To say the things, [s]he truly feels,
And not the words of one who kneels.
The record shows, I took the blows.
And did it my way.”. -Sinatra

On the slopes, it was brutal also. I took fewer, nastier falls. My brother accidentally caught the back of one of my skis, and it was beyond my control, it just pulled out to the side (it was SO painful). Picture your hamstring muscles kind of like the curtain in the temple after the resurrection, and that’s exactly what it felt like, except I’m still in one piece. Then on the ski lift, I took a tumble, and the thing dragged me in the snow for another 5 meters while I pried the attachment out from between my legs. Then, I had also fallen forwards, except my knees were straight, (tres mal..) and then I fell sideways and got shouldered by an angry snowbank. Meanwhile all that my helpful, optimistic brain gives me to say in french is “Don’t worry! I’m doing fine!” I think I will ask them if I can see their chiropractor.

I have my window open this morning and the air feels just like Joy. It’s so nice to be in this family. They are so nice to me! Oh gosh and there’s so much chocolate. It’s so nice! It’s really funny because they don’t call chocolate milk, milk with chocolate, the call it chocolate with milk. mdr…

Switzerland is so nice. Not gonna lie, the airport in Geneva felt so much more like home than Pearsons… 😛



I went skiing yesterday. Oh gosh. I went skiing. It’s true. I actually went skiing. They took me on the bambino slopes, but, the only part of the hills which were remotely like bunny hills was the fact that they were full of little kids who were whizzing around SO much more proficient than me. It’s humbling. I felt like such a little kid, because the dad was helping me put on my shoes, and my sister was buckling me into the car. Oh gosh. I also fell so many times yesterday. I stopped counting after 15. All I know is that, the ground was flat one moment, and then, SPLASH! I’m on the ground. When I say splash, it’s the same sort of splash you get when you run into a brick wall. I took quite a few spills yesterday. The dad is really similar to what I’m used to. He taught me how to get back up on my skis once (it’s difficult, you need good technique), and then let me sort myself out for the rest of the day. I had taken another spill on a slope with a 2 degree incline, and he stood there, watching me get up. It took at least four tries, then I finally got up. It’s the take your kids by the hand to the bottom of the pool analogy. I don’t think I’m blue anywhere, but then again I haven’t examined myself. I’m thankful that I don’t bruise easily. It gives me a chance to believe in my inner Viking. It’s really difficult for us ballerinas to face the fact that we can barely walk in certain contraptions.

However, the slopes were completely beautiful! I hope to take more pictures of them today when I am skiing, because yesterday I barely took any. I was a little more intent on survival. Later on in the afternoon, when I was still tackling the slopes, it got pretty overwhelming. I wanted to cry when I was on the mountains. I think that’s because I was in so much pain, and I couldn’t see the bottom of it, and I didn’t catch them saying in French that we weren’t going the whole way down. However, in typical fashion, I took a deep breath and kept going. Never did it cross my mind, I can’t do this. That really never crossed my mind. I only thought wow it’s going to take a ton more effort to get down. I felt a little bit like a kitten someone left on top of a fridge.

The family felt a little bad for making me ski for so long, and promised me that today and Sunday it will be shorter. However, I do understand that sometimes I make my own problems. There was a certain ski lift which I couldn’t get up, because it was considerably steeper than any which I had tried. I had tried three times to go up it, each time being chucked off to the side. Now, I do cut myself some slack for my inability to get up this ski lift because my strength was diminishing, but still, if I would’ve been able to get up that lift it would’ve saved me bunches of problems further down the hill.

Okay so all’s well if I’m the only person out there who’s not slopeworthy, but it wasn’t that way. There was a girl on a snowboard who came and knocked me over and we slid a good 20 meters together. The whole time she was saying “j’suis tres desolee” and I’m saying “ce n’est pas un problem!” mdr. At least it was a tumble which wasn’t my fault! Not to mention I can’t even move today. Stairs. Stairs are complete beasts.

Afterwards, at the bottom of the mountain, when we were having some refreshments, the dad was telling me about how the Swiss Franc was strong and it wasn’t a good thing. I felt SO much at home. It’s all the same, except in French (and some German). I was drinking iced tea, and my siblings were having chocolate milk, and the smell of the dad’s beer made me remember all the times I’ve gone to Swiss Chalet with my family. It’s so ironic because Swiss Chalet is really not very Swiss, nor does it resemble a chalet in the slightest. It’s so North American (I’m disdaining it just the same as if i was saying so mainstream…)

Last night as I tried to fall asleep, every time I closed my eyes I felt my feet moving uncontrollable underneath me, and me keeling over to the side again. Oh well. That won’t stop me from skiing again today because I think it will be much easier.

My days are completely full of me saying “wow! I’ve never seen that before!” It’s such a great experience. I ate wapiti and horse meat at supper. Wapiti is fantastic, not gonna lie. Horse meat is cool too, with large striations in the tissue but it was good nevertheless. I knew that I had never eaten horse meat before, but I didn’t know if it was available in Canada. At least, I don’t think  it’s common to eat horsemeat. It’s common here. The dad said (with a very straight face) “yes, and next week we eat cat”. mdr. The same humor I’m used to… 😛

Their democracy is really cool over here. At the supper table, the parents were discussing about what they should vote for about whether or not workers should have 6 weeks of vacation per year or not. It’s so cool. They don’t have a president; they have a Federal Council.

They say  that they have a lot of immigrants here, but I have my doubts. I think their version of a lot is different than our version. I don’t think they comprehend what it’s like for Caucasians to be a minority.

They have a cool machine which they use to warm cheese trays in the bottom, and the top is a stone which is a grill. It heats up, and you cook your meat on it. Literally, they pass around a platter of raw meat, you take a few pieces onto your plate, and, one at a time, you watch your meat cook in front of you. Oh gosh. It’s so cool!

For the record, I am the clumsiest thing a Swiss slope has EVER EVER seen. I rest my case.

It’s funny, the other night at a restaurant, I had a “juliette crepe” which had rigolo, fromage, et tomates on it (arugula, cheese and tomatoes) and the waiter was trying to make some joke about finding me a Romeo. I just laugh and feign comprehension sometimes.

The restaurant was beautiful. After seeing Sherlocke Holmes (in french) and stepping outside the theater into a European setting, I still felt like I was in the movie. It’s a different feeling than the typical anticlimactic “back to the true north biting winds” feeling. Honestly last time I saw that movie I saw it with Becky. Now, when I watch it again, I see how many people die in the movie. It’s sad. I’m way less desensitized to it now. I still want to see Sherlocke Holmes a few more times, in English. There’s so much to be understood. Because it was in French, the words slipped right past me, for the most part. I was too distracted by the screenplay and camera action, (Steven Spielberg is an absolute genius) and the score. The score was SO well done. Oh gosh. There’s so much detail which you really only pick up if you’ve seen it once, and on your second time through, you’re not paying attention to the words. It’s down to the detail of having the same rhythmic motif for each time that the chess piece reappears.

I feel so much at home in this family. They were joking around, and the said “Welcome to our family, but I don’t think we told you everything beforehand. We are very different. We aren’t so sure you’ll survive.”

Epic lol. 😀 I’m more than surviving. It’s 5 star.

J’adore Suisse!


There are no words for how beautiful it really is here in Switzerland. Ok, I lied. That’s just a poetic copout. I probably could describe at least a fraction of the beauty here in poetry, but, my brain is gurgling in French. Thankfully, a picture is worth a thousand words.

We drive by these, and the family is so chill about it all. They’re so used to being surrounded by majesty. They’ve grown up in Oscar Peterson’s Land of the Misty Giants.

I can see both the Chateau du Valere (foreground) and the Chateau Tourbillon (background) from my balcony. They are so beautiful when they are lit up at night! There’s nothing like it!

Mary’s been a bad dog; they put her behind bars.

It’s massive, and beautiful. There’s a lot of religious and cultural history in Europe which we simply don’t have in North America.

“C’est exactement comme les filmes! Je promenade ici comme Angelina Jolie!” I told my friend that. It’s exactly what it feels like.

I open my window and look over the vineyards, and suddenly I’m Juliet. It’s exactly how it is. It’s magic.

These old stairs were at the bottom of the mountainside.