Living in a campsite bungalow, next to a hostel and in a time of housing crisis is one of those situations where it is so easy to meet other exchange students, organised events or not. During the French course Shona and I became friends with many, especially my Portuguese roommate, Rui, and a Swede, Annica who Shona met online during the summer. We got to know each other very quickly, spending most of our time with each other. We went touristy exploring the city, partied and cooked together in an attempt to combat the hefty Swiss prices. There were many meals in our resume of fine dining, including the Scottish pasta with disappearing sauce and best of all the famous Portuguese pasta with tomato and fish fingers. This sounds reasonable student dish, but apparently the technique of putting chopped tomato into the boiling water with pasta doesn’t add as much flavour as in Portugal!
The parties and barbeques were of course lots of fun, with a reasonable amount of wine and beer always involved. We took delight in exchanging our various drinking games, with the most interesting having to be a Swedish game in which very bizarre sounds are made and self respect is lost instantly. We went to some of the clubs and bars in the city, in which the music can be variable, but are great all the same. However with the Euro in doubt and everyone putting their money in “safe” Switzerland, there is no where it is been felt greater than by the protein eating and beer drinking Swiss exchange students. A quarter litre of beer costs at least £3.50 in Switzerland, more than double any well regarded bar of Edinburgh.
The housing situation had got so bad that even national television had become interested in the plight of us students living in the campsite and tried to come interview us twice, but unfortunately we were not in either time. Progress was however been made as Annica had a stroke of luck on a house hunting expedition, by seeing a note, advertising for new tenants in an amazing location. Rui and I joined her for the flat viewing, and were completely blown away. It had enough rooms for us, a balcony with view of the Alps and was really cheap. Excited and enthralled we left desperate for the flat, so having consulted EPFL, we set about attacking the Swiss paper work, no easy feat as 3 exchange students. Having convinced a family friend of Rui to be our necessary Swiss guarantor, showing his and our parents wages, we handed in the forms to wait at least a week for the result…… So panicked with blind hope, we decided the only other option was to apply to other flats, which was more constructive than the viewings with the competition of 20 desperate students for one room. This alternative involved dealing with the delightful estate agents of Lausanne who have the gleeful luxury of the knowledge that everyone is at their mercy!!!! Would we ever get anywhere?!?!?!