As I prepare to leave Switzerland and return to the United States, it’s hard to imagine that nearly four months have passed and that many of the people I have seen on a daily basis will continue out their studies while I begin my next quarter halfway around the world. In the final few weeks before I leave, I have tried to explore places I may never have the chance to visit again alongside the friends I have made abroad. This post outlines a fundamental aspect of an exchange program: exploring new places and cultures.
I began my final excursions with a trip to Venice, Italy, and I was immediately greeted with a dramatic shift from the punctual Swiss lifestyle I had grown accustomed to during my exchange. Aside from eating phenomenal Italian cuisine, I was able to experience a laid back way of life enjoyed by the Venetian populace.
My next trip began with a 12 hour nighttime train to Budapest, Hungary. Budapest became the first Eastern European city I have visited and as such, was one of the most interesting cities that I have been to as much of the commercialization of Western Europe was absent. Budapest gave the feeling that everything around was locally owned and the importance of community relations was evident in every place we visited, from the thermal baths to the markets.
My final adventure away from Switzerland was incidentally a journey that marked my setting foot in every country that bordered Switzerland: Skiing in Liechtenstein. Although the culture of Liechtenstein varies little from that of Switzerland, the country known for its small size had plenty to offer for students seeking to experience a new place.
Without travelling to new cities while on an exchange, one misses the chance to explore new places and meet new people. Although sometimes it may be difficult to leave the host country, the results are almost always worth it.