Is it seriously possible that I only have a mere 2 weeks, 14 days until I grab my bags, throw them into the car and hop on a plane back to the US of A? ... I know right? Crazy town!
I feel like I'm already in a dream-like state. I've gotten past the holiday homesickness, the 50 more days (this is never going to happen) am I ever going to go home state, and am now into the 2 weeks, I am actually starting to pack up my things and move out reality of moving back home. I feel like (and I'm sure most can agree) that once I'm home this whole year will seem like a big dream. Almost like, did that actually happen? Oh wait, I have pictures to prove it!
Sometimes, I'll be walking or riding on the tram and will just think wow, this whole experience has been such an unbelievable adventure why do I want to go home so badly? Then I'll start to think wow I don't want to go home, I have amazing friends and a great job and the flexibility to travel and learn things that I never would have if I hadn't come here. But then I'll think, I miss my family and friends at home and can't believe that it's been almost 11 months that I haven't seen them! So yes, I certainly have some mixed feelings going on. Some days I feel like crying because I don't want to leave but other days I am so happy and feel like laughing about all the crazy things my friends and I have done. I suppose those feelings will probably come home with me too.
It's so strange to think that I've gone through all 4 seasons, every holiday (except Easter), and have gotten to learn so much about not only Swiss culture but about European culture as well. I was thinking last night that I probably know more about Swiss geography than all of my US friends now and probably a lot more about European geography as well. Before I came here I wouldn't have been able to tell you where Belgium or Denmark is and now I've been to both of those places! So, since I'm soOo worldly and knowledgable now ;-) I thought I'd write a bit about the differences between Americans and Europeans!
So the first thing that I'd say (Excluding the UK and Ireland) is how reserved Europeans are. Americans for the most part are pretty outgoing and after a few beers will talk to most anyone. Here however, I've discovered that Europeans usually stick to their own group of friends and will only talk to other people if someone else starts the conversation or if they have mutual friends. Although, my french professor did tell me that I am "trés calme" for an American. Probably because she hasn't seen me getting my English on hah.
Moving on, another HUGE difference is how much more casual Americans dress than Europeans. I mean it could be because I'm usually in the city but most people are dressed pretty fashionably. Even at the University my class is at I have yet to see more than 1 person in sweats. Also, the number of people with designer bags! Seriously, I must have just forgotten my Louis Vuitton at home.
Speaking of Louis Vuitton, Europeans are really into accessories, well, that and stripes. Nearly everyone (men included) wears a scarf (well, maybe not everyone... but most). However, if you have a striped scarf, now that is chic! Hah. Also, skinny jeans and boots! I mean during the winter it was as if that one trend just exploded in Geneva. Guys maybe not the boots, but skinny jeans, Cha. Good thing I read up on that trend before I came and invested some in the skinny jean category and I actually like them! To think, I used to believe I couldn't pull off a skinny jean, wrong. However, now that spring is poppin' up it's more skinny jeans with flats. Also, in an attempt to pull off a biker / bad ass / hard core look the leather jacket is insanely "in" right now. I even bought one and I'm pretty sure I'm in love. It's so soft and lightweight but warm and makes me feel like I'm too cool for school. Perhaps the Europeans are on to something?
So now that I've completely said way too much about fashion, onto something a bit more personal, PDA that is. Yes, Europeans love them some public displays of affection. From a couch in Starbucks, to the trams, everywhere there is a couple fully enclosed in some serious snogging. I don't know what it is, but so many people here think it's totally ok to have a full out make-out session within feet of another person. Umm excuse me while I relocate myself so that I don't have to gag at the sight of your apparent adoration for each other.
Ah so, one thing (among many) Europeans have so so right is transportation. I have never had much of a problem getting from one place to another without the use of a car. But, it doesn't just stop at trains, busses, trams, metros, planes, ect. It's also beyond common for people to ride scooters, smart cars, roller blades, bikes, skateboards or vespas arounds town. I love in the summer when the sidewalks by the lake are filled with people moving around one way or another getting exercise and transportation. So great!
So, after a year abroad those are just some of my observations. It has been so remarkable to get to see what goes on across the pond and to feel like I'm, at least in my head, an honorary European.