I am in Switzerland.
I have repeated this to myself every morning for the past nine days, mostly because it hasn’t sunk in yet. I am in Switzerland, I’m cozied up in a little Alpine ski village called Leysin, and for the next four months I get to call these beautiful snow-covered mountains my home.
So far I’ve been lucky enough to have already met some fantastic people and visited postcard-worthy places. But before I delve further into my time here let me backtrack a little. In case I haven’t had the chance to explain to you in person, dear reader, I’m a co-op student at the University of Waterloo; this means that for the duration of my university education, every other term is a work term. This winter I was lucky enough to land a job working as a library assistant at Leysin American School, one of the most prestigious boarding schools in the world.
Cue the creation of this blog.
“Liminal space” is a really neat concept; even before I had any semblance of a concrete plan for my blog, I knew that I wanted to incorporate it somehow. In case you don’t have your dictionary handy, liminality is a state of being; it has to do with a period in your life in which you’ve left the old behind and you are standing at the threshold of something new. This past year has been undeniably difficult, at times leaving me feeling exhausted, directionless, and stuck. But, as I start a new year in a new country, I can feel things shifting. I’m standing at the threshold of undiscovered territory and I want to document the change.
So. Let’s do this.
The first week here has been brilliantly hectic. Following eleven sleepless hours of travel, myself and two of the three other co-op students working at Leysin were picked up from Geneva Airport and driven to the LAS campus. Mountain driving, as we quickly discovered, is something of an extreme sport. The roads are narrow, the ice is plentiful and the cars drive fast. Mild panic aside, the views during my first drive up the mountain were amazing and I loved every moment of it.
Once we arrived, we unpacked and were given tour of the campus. The Leysin campus is fairly large and divided up into a number of different buildings where classes are held and faculty and students live. The other co-op students and I are staying in building called Beau Réveil which, according to my eleventh grade level french, translates roughly to “beautiful awakening”, and is close to most of the other buildings on campus (save for the one I work in, which is a 15 minute hike up the mountain). After dinner with our boss at a local restaurant called The Station we returned to our dorm and I fell into what was probably the deepest sleep I’ve ever had. We spent the rest of the weekend fending off jet-lag and exploring the lower village of Leysin.
On Tuesday the work week officially began. LAS has two libraries, and I have been spending my days working in a building called Belle Epoque. Belle Epoque was originally built in 1890 as a lavish hotel and clinic for people suffering from tuberculosis, as the fresh Swiss air and sunlight was thought to be vital for improving their health. Now as a school, a great deal of the original architecture is still in place, making it one of my favourite buildings by far.
Evenings in Leysin up until this point have consisted of visiting The Top Pub down the street with other faculty members, a late night snowball fight… and a lot of cozying up in bed and reading.
I’m not entirely sure what to expect for the upcoming weeks, but I’m certain the next time I write to you, reader, I will be completely worn out. Starting this week, every Tuesday and Thursday, all faculty and students will finish classes early to go out skiing and snowboarding on the Leysin slopes. I can’t wait!
Until next time,
PS. In case you’d like to relive my first drive up the mountain with me, picture clear skies, bright sunlight, and these exact songs being played in the background on the van stereo:
- Castle on the Hill – Ed Sheeran
- Island in the Sun – Weezer
- The Way I Am – Ingrid Michaelson
- The Middle – Jimmy Eat World
- You Know I’m No Good – Amy Winehouse
- Say Hey (I Love You) – Michael Franti & Spearhead
- Black Horse and the Cherry Tree – KT Tunstall
- Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol
- Home – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes
- Dog Days are Over – Florence + The Machine
- Little Lion Man – Mumford and Sons