Swiss Exchange Trip Week 1 - Long Flights, Christmas Markets, and Castles

I've been working towards my exchange trip to Switzerland for 2 years. It' always been a big goal of mine, but never actually felt real. Even now as I sit on my bed listening to the Swiss rain wash away the Swiss snow writing this post it still doesn't feel real.
It was just over a week ago that I began the very long journey from New Zealand to Switzerland. There was a group of about 20 of us going, all very anxious and excited. I was mainly anxious, because I had no idea what to expect, and I came to the realization that I will be away from my family for two months, in a foreign country, speaking a foreign language, over christmas time. 
I cried packing my bags, I cried weighing my bags, I cried while I hugged family and friends, and I cried as I walked through security. I was so nervous, and by that point in time I'd had so many mental break downs I was over it. I didn't want to go. I forced myself to leave everyone because I knew if I didn't go I would regret it for a very long time.
I hopped on the plane, the first plane of many, and pretended to be excited. We flew from Christchurch to Sydney, Sydney to Dubai, and Dubai to Geneva. All in all it was about 25 hours in the air. I'd never done a long haul flight before, so I was very excited. I found the flights pretty enjoyable, sleep was uncomfortable, but I managed to get 8 hours so I felt really good.

Flying into Geneva was very pretty, we flew over snow-capped mountains, and it was 0 degrees outside. It actually reminded me a lot of Queenstown. I had somewhat calmed down over the course of our flights, but when we landed the nerves returned worse than ever. I kept thinking over and over again "I'm going to be here for two months!"
Of course everybody here is lovely, and now that I've settled in I am very happy to be here. I'm staying in a small village just out of Nyon. It's so pretty here, the buildings are much nicer than those in New Zealand. I was surprised by the pretty houses in particular, I had naively thought that all houses were the same.  The best thing about Switzerland so far is that everywhere is decorated for Christmas and it is so cozy!

On Friday my host mother, friend, and I visited a Christmas market at the Chateau de Morges. All my christmas dreams came true at this market, we don't have anything like it in New Zealand. We nibbled on roasted chestnuts and sipped Christmas tea while walking through the wooden huts.

I spotted these adorable christmas cookies, and so nearly bought one even though I don't eat sugar.
We haven't had snow in Christchurch in 5 or 6 years, so when I looked out my window to find snow saturday morning I almost cried.
Even though I absolutely loved the snow (which is sadly already melting) it was actually a bad thing because it meant we couldn't take a ferry to France, like we had originally planned. Instead we drove to The Chateau de Chillon. The drive from Nyon to Veytaux has an amazing view of the Lake Geneva and the French Alps. Although I think the castle itself has the best view.
The castle has a lot of history, you can see graffiti done by Lord Byron and the very post that Francois de Bonivard was chained to for 6 years. 

Every room had a different ceiling pattern which I really appreciated. My favourite ceiling was in the Chapel, it's very light and pretty.

I got all dressed up for the occasion, finally getting to whip out my winter sweaters and makeup.
Castles and markets aside, this week was really about settling in both at home and at school. I feel very at home here because everybody is lovely, but this week has been difficult for me. Getting over jetlag, starting a new school, and speaking a different language was hard. I had to really concentrate on staying positive sometimes. In the difficult times I had to choose to be happy. However, the worst is now behind me, and I'm very excited to be able to enjoy this beautiful country for two whole months!


Amesmames xx

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