Shona and I found ourselves sitting apprehensively and anxiously, surrounded by
enthusiastic Americans preparing themselves for the journey home with a dash
around the finest whiskies of the land. Both of us Edinburgh
chemists daring to venture into Switzerland,
we knew each other well from the previous year which was a great comfort, but
it would seem no help in organisation. Neither one of us noticed that the
flight was on last call, as we found ourselves running frantically to the
correct terminal. We did make it but we did wonder how we could ever fit into a
country where trains don’t wait an extra second for anyone. The adventure had
begun, as we found ourselves that night in campsite bungalows, surrounded by
the city that would be our home for the coming year.
Finding accommodation beforehand had been an impossible task, despite numerous phonecalls, emails and pleading, there was nothing to be found. It is a very serious
problem in Lausanne, with EPFL and UNIL accepting far more people than there is
conventional accommodation in the city. I recommend that if you are even just
considering Lausanne as a destination, apply for accommodation NOW to FMEL! I had no roof, and was very lucky that I was offered a bungalow on a campsite to stay in for 2 weeks to give me time to find housing, while I was there, which is well a stressful
ordeal. Shona had found accommodation, but she was very lucky as she only
applied to the student housing in April, and most who did weren’t as lucky.
Despite early rises each day to go on the house hunt, there was always very limited
progress, with visits to the EPFL housing service, the student housing offices
and even estate agents there was little that could be done, with nothing but
extortionately priced, with large compromises. I know people who accepted
properties for over £600, living with an old lady, which wasn’t even inLausanne.
The campsite, despite the walk to toilets and shower, proved to be lots of fun, with many exchange students and very comfy beds, if fact it was a very good holiday. We were two minutes from the lake edge. We’d swim every day, stand in awe of the view of the lake, the Alps, and occasionally do the intensive French classes
which were the reason for going 3 weeks early to university.
The French lessons were great, my teacher, Carole, was really cool and always made the lessons fun, interesting and very engaging. She would dart around the classroom with enthusiasm, and was extremely encouraging for me, with my very strong British accent which although did amuse the class, holds me back. On our 3rd day the class went on a trip out of the city to Cully, where Carole was brought up. It was truly
awesome, with vineyards everywhere, great views and amazing sunshine. We bonded
as a class and to top it off we enjoyed wine from Carole’s family vineyard, sat
by the lake and swam in the warm lake.