A Stint in Geneva

It’s 5am in the morning and I am trudging through a snow blizzard on my way home to the UK.
There are some things that you would never expect from Erasmus – a bout of snow after a week of sunshine, the satisfaction of a new second-hand fridge and, perhaps most of all, the homesickness. Whilst living perfectly independently in Edinburgh, France has me reaching for the telephone, feeling gloomy and – I admit – counting the weeks down till Christmas. However, the French like to holiday and so at the recent half-term, I packed up my bags and headed back home.
Arriving in Geneva after some delays and fallen trees, I find that the snow blizzard has miraculously disappeared. In fact, the mountains act like walls here, closing in contradictory weather patterns. Geneva itself is dry and autumnal, but for a blistering wind. I’m not usually one to go on outings by myself, but I’m catching a plane that evening and so have all day to explore.
My new Australian friend, Kevin, has told me about a 40 metre high jet of water that rises out of the lake: in this wind it might as well be a water shower and so it’s turned off. However, I am not to be daunted. There’s something slightly enticing about wandering about a new city by myself, sitting at a café by myself and being asked if I’m French by the Swiss waiter. The Geneva old town reminds me a bit of Edinburgh and Bristol, with the prettiest part of Grenoble sprinkled in. It’s full of winding alleys, underpasses and stairs enough to daunt Escher. Further on, there’s an array of museums and a little Russian Orthodox church, pink towers and coloured domes tucked in among terraces of houses.
As the sun starts to set, it dawns on me that a friend would be a nice addition as I look in on the little bars selling mulled wine and start to find the deserted alleys a little less pleasant than they did before. I take a little tour around Rousseau Island, watch some swans and then head to the airport armed with little Swiss chocolates for my sisters.
And then, having barely arrived home, I’m back in Grenoble again. Back to my little room, and its little plastic chair, but armed with a coffee press and that new second-hand fridge. The snow is on the mountains and the ski season is beginning. I’m a débutante – but I’ll be having a go.

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