Thanks to a wondrous man named Erasmus, I will be spending my summer in Geneva this year. While everyone back home will be a slave to the Queen Mary examination system, I will probably be lounging in the sun by Lake Geneva, looking at Mont Blanc in the distance and fantasising about a future working for the UN.
Just kidding. Well, kind of. I will definitely do the sunbathing thing, and will play in the mists of the Jet d’Eau, and sail in the cool summer breeze on Lake Geneva. I do also kind of want to work for the UN now too. But, alas, exams are still a priority.
The Queen Mary French department had this radical – some might call demented – idea that Erasmus students could go and study abroad and still manage to pass all 30 credits in their foreign exams. One has to laugh, lest one tear their own hair out. To clarify, this is not an easy task. So the pressure of having to pass every single one of my classes (including an enormous master’s module) means that my semester is spent predominantly sat at my desk. Wine within arm’s reach, naturally.
But it has to be said that studying here has already inspired me to do all kinds of crazy things that I wouldn’t otherwise have had the chance to do. The university offers skiing or sailing every Saturday, depending on the season, so there’s no excuse not to get more outdoorsy. Living so close to CERN and the United Nations just makes you want to be rich and successful, so that is officially my life plan. I’m even thinking about coming back to do my masters in translation here, so it’s fair to say Geneva and I have gotten pretty serious.
Our love affair just seems to grow every day. From the metropolitan city centre to the view of Mont Salève and the French Prealps out of my bedroom window, Geneva just doesn’t stop impressing me.
There is one thing, however, which does not impress me in the slightest. That is the exorbitant, back-breaking, tear-jerking prices. Of everything. From groceries to clothes to going out, I have learnt that Geneva was built for rich people. A mixer in a bar is about 15 francs, and a meal on average is about 25. A basket shop in Aldi – which I went to seeking asylum from the expensive supermarkets – amounted to 57 francs, which is about £50. I was mortified.
Thankfully, there is true refuge in France, which is a mere fifteen-minute drive from my house – and a beautiful alpine drive at that. This was a joyous day: I managed to fill an enormous IKEA bag, and two other bags, full of meat and wine and cheese and other such expensive luxuries which are just a flat-out impossibility in Switzerland. And all this cost me €100 – food for about six weeks! In this respect, I do miss France quite a bit.
But, despite your hostile and unyielding prices, Geneva, I will continue to love you – and we will have an amazing summer together in my post-exam bliss.