We have arrived in Zurich! After an entire year of organizing courses, etc., the big moment had arrived! I (Lea) finished my exams at U of T, where I study Industrial Engineering, in the middle of December, and the semester in Zurich only starts the third week of February, so I just had the most incredible 2 months off in the middle of the year! I started with a little skiing in Canada with the family, followed with a week in London, then a week in Vienna, Budapest for a week, skiing in the French Alps for a week, and finally Zurich. The absolute best thing about Europe is how everything is so close together!
Let us start by introducing ourselves. I, Lea, am a student of Industrial Engineering in 3rd year at the University of Toronto. I am taking part of an official exchange to the Computer Science department at ETH Zurich, one of the best engineering schools in the world, and probably the best in Europa. My sister Hanna is also studying Industrial Engineering at the University of Toronto, and is also on exchange at ETH, with the Bioengineering faculty.
Zurich is incredible! The land of snow-covered steeples on every corner, a river right through the center of the city, and the Alps as a backdrop: “es ist sehr schön!” The first evening was quite an adventure: we arrived at the train station with 5 large suitcases, 4 backpacks, and 3 pairs of skis and ski boots. We had figured out a system whereby each of us would pull 2 suitcases carry 2 backpacks (one in the front and one in the back), and then attach the rest of the luggage via belts attached to our waists to pull behind us. It would have been one exhausting trip to get to our apartment in this fashion, but luckily one of my (Lea) friends came to the rescue and helped us navigate the (excellent) public transport system. But we could not rest yet: we had an address, but we didn’t know which apartment was ours, and no one was there to meet us since it turned out that the office hadn’t gotten the email and phone message we sent them about when we would be arriving. So we went into a few other students’ apartments and even found an empty one to crash in in case we couldn’t find ours, but in the end our roommate (an amazing Chinese student named Zaq) came to the rescue. We explored Zurich for a few hours the next day (Sunday) and even found a Hungarian church for mass right in the neighbourhood! Then Monday bright and early we started our pre-semester German classes and so are spending our time immersing ourselves in the Swiss culture and language and learning German rapidly. Unfortunately the dialect they speak here is nearly impossible to understand with our foreigner’s ear, but most people speak the “normal” HochDeutsch perfectly.
The best thing so far about the University here is that there is a Sleeping Room! It’s officially called the Relaxation centre, but you can go there any time to take a nap with soft classical music playing in the background in the comfiest beds you can imagine. If you would rather loosen up some muscles in your feet, there is also an option to get a foot massage. And everything is free with your student card! The rest of the world should take note.
Life in Zurich is promising to be a blast; yesterday we invited over our floor mates, and cooked loads of food: 15 liters of chicken broth, and a huge platter of stuffed aubergines, and a whole stuffed chicken etc… It was a lot of fun and we now have enough food for the whole week!
We’ll post some pictures soon so check back in a couple days.
Lea and Hanna