As my friends are starting classes back in the States, it occurred to me on my walk to class today just how different life has been ever since I arrived in Geneva. There are many comforts and conveniences that I miss about the US (namely my almond butter and granola!!), but each new adventure brings with it new experiences that are meant to challenge you and the best way to learn and grow from this is to embrace the new culture and environment you find yourself in.
So, what does the ‘new normal’ look like now?
It’s spending the time to enjoy breakfast in the mornings, even making time to drink my tea. Back at school, I would be lucky if I woke up with enough time to make it down to the dining hall for breakfast. Most days, breakfast consisted of a packet of almond butter and an apple as I rushed out the door to make it to class.
It’s taking the time to walk to class each morning, not just merely following the path based on rote memorization, but actively making an effort to notice all of the small things as Geneva begins to wake up and prepare for the day ahead. Vendors setting up their stands at the daily Farmer’s Market with fresh fruits and produce, the old couple sitting outside at the cafè next door watching passer-bys while sipping their coffees, children (and adults!) peering into the windows of chocolate shops with fond admiration for all of the exquisite creations- just a few of the scenes that make the walk to school so much more pleasant and entertaining!
It’s spending 2 hours in French class trying to understand the intricacies of the French language while maintaining my sanity, haha! After studying Italian for 6 years in middle school and high school, my first instinct when my professor asks me a question in French is to respond in Italian…yea, so learning French has been a slow and tedious process, but very fun nonetheless!
It’s being awake at odd hours of the morning so that I can FaceTime my family and friends. It’s week 3, and while I’ve gotten over my jetlag, the 6 hour time difference still kills me.
It’s wandering around Old Town after classes in search of the best hot chocolate in Geneva instead of rushing straight back to start studying for a prelim/exam like I would have done back at school. I’ve definitely consumed my fair share of chocolate, but there’s no such thing as too much!
It’s learning that life goes on, both here in Geneva and back at home. I could spend my days fretting over all of the things that I would be missing out on back at school, but then that would take away from my experience here in Geneva. The prominence of social media, especially, makes it difficult to escape from these fears, so I’m making an effort to check those apps less frequently. It also helps that we have limited access to wifi/electronic communications, because it gives me an opportunity to cultivate deeper and more meaningful relationships that I would have otherwise been unable to do if I was glued to my phone.
Above all, the ‘new normal’ has taught me to embrace spontaneity, live fully in the present, and never stop dreaming and exploring. To live a fulfilling life rich with tales from travels and spontaneous adventures is something that I strive for everyday.