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Today I woke up around 11am to the pitter-patter of rain outside, and I could see snow on top of the mountains. It was so cold today–like winter weather, like it just skipped fall.

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By now, I have met all my flatmates–two French boys who were friends before, one French girl, and one Chinese boy. My French is not up to par as everyone else’s, so they kindly speak English when I do not understand.

The language barrier is difficult. Their English is better than my French, but I can understand them when they speak in full sentences and slowly. I will have times where I can understand perfectly, and times where I think “are they speaking a real language? Does anyone actually know what they are talking about?” It is frustrating sometimes, but I have to tell myself that this is why I came here–to learn French.

A funny cultural stereotype: I walked into the kitchen today and the French boys are wearing a t-shirt and boxers, smoking cigarettes, drinking beer (on a Sunday) and yelling at the French Rugby Team on the TV. My only thought was “Wow…I think all those things are illegal where I am from.” But of course, I am the weirdo because I am always fully clothed, I drink water instead of hard liquor during the day, and when I don’t understand what they are saying, I just sort of walk away and hope that they were not talking to me.

I finally met my Swiss “buddy” that the University paired with me–his name is Jérôme and he is very nice. He caught me off guard when he did the French kissing-on-the cheek thing, so I froze, and then he said “three times in Lausanne” so we went back and forth brushing cheeks three times. That was the first time I have ever done that in Europe–it made me feel like I’m in a foreign country.

These photos are of the Port–right where I live–you can see the lake and the Alps.

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