I'm Back.....

Trip Start Aug 17, 2009
Trip End Jul 20, 2010

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Flag of Switzerland  , Geneva,
Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hello again all-
Well, after 2 lovely weeks home to see family and friends and spend a lovely holiday with everyone, I'm back in Europe.  Welcome to lovely Geneva.  I really don't have a lot to share yet, I've not even been here a week, but I did just want to get that first post out and share pics of my new place.  

I landed in Geneva on the morning of January 8th in, what I can easily say, was the WORST landing I've ever experienced!!  The moment we started descent it was bumpy, the plane was leaping all over the place, then there were screaming and crying children and exclamations from adults.  We all applauded the pilot once we were on the ground.  After that my arrival in Geneva was pretty uneventful.  I was met at the baggage claim exit by one of the Webster Staff members who drove me to "Les Berges du Rhone" which is our housing for the next 8 weeks.  I'm up on the 4th (read 5th, this is Europe) in a lovely 2-bed studio all to my self which overlooks a very busy Geneva street.  The room is fairly unremarkable, except for the fact that it is very white with grey and orange floors, sort of odd.

So, first impressions of Geneva?  EXPENSIVE.  Switzerland uses the Swiss Franc which is just about 1-1 for exchange rate to the US$, but things are so pricey.  Example:  My first trip to the store cost me about 67Sfr (about $67) and all I bought were 2 chicken breasts, lettuce, 2 bags of frozen veggies, yogurt, olive oil, milk, paper towels, and a tiny thing of margarine.  Yikes!  Geneva will definitely not be a "lets go out and have dinner place," unless someone else is paying ;-)   Oh, and one of the RA's in the building was telling us that he and some friends went out for a beer the first night he was here and ordered 3 Heineken's, that ended up being 35Sfr A PIECE!! 
Beyond the expense issue Geneva is great so far, although I haven't yet had a chance to do much sight seeing, I think I'm still jet lagged.  There honestly isn't very much in the city to see, aside from the UN/NGO stuff, but I plan to make a trip to city center sometime, and of course we will be going to the UN buildings for class.  There is also a ski trip planned for the first weekend in February.  I think I'll go on that, although I probably won't ski, but it will be nice to get up in the mountains.  The people here are all pretty nice and friendly, although a little reserved sometimes.  But I do need to work on some French just so that I can have some basics down and not be a complete idiot.

While we live in Geneva the Webster campus is actually outside the city in Bellevue.  So to get to class we take a bus to the train station and a 10 minute train to the Bellevue stop, which is a few 100 meters from the Webster campus.  The campus here is certainly the best so far, with a full library and even a cafeteria.  I have the same professor for both of my classes (War & Diplomacy and Humanitarian Issues) and he's incredible!  For our professional seminars we have a woman who seems very knowledgeable and nice.  So instructor-wise this term is certainly shaping up better than last!  Academically this term will include trips to the UN, WTO, ICRC, and at least 1 other yet to be determined location.  For my professional seminar I also have to visit the World Wildlife Fund headquarters for a presentation I will be giving in that class.  Our prosem this term also will include working on our resumes, so that will be very helpful.  In another "resume helper" we will also be participating in the 15th Annual Webster Humanitarian Conference.  This conference, which is put on with the UN and ICRC (FYI - the Red Cross) is a big deal every year and we will be assisting in planning, logistics, etc.  This promises to be an incredible experience, so I'm certainly excited.  I'll also be using my time in Geneva to visit the UN library on a regular basis, once we have our cards, to do research for my capstone paper.

This coming weekend we will be heading to France with Kerry, who is the Student Life coordinator in Geneva and for all the Globals in Europe.  This is a trip Kerry does every term for the Globals where he takes us to his vacation home in Burgundy and we do a weekend of wine tasting and fondue eating.  Quite excited about this, so look for a post next week with an update on that! 

In not so great news, for those of you who haven't heard, our cohort lost one during break, although not for reasons you think.  On his way back to Europe Abdul flew through Brussels and was stopped, questioned, detained, and blocked from entry into the EU.  Ostensibly this was because he was in violation of a treaty that limits travel to 90 days within the treaty area (this is still debatable and Webster lawyers are looking into it since it could affect us all).  But we all feel, given his background and the incidences recently with air travel that he was profiled and this was just an excuse.  He is now in London with the cohort there and we will meet up with him in 2 months when we get there, but I know he was quite disappointed to miss Geneva and we miss him here.

Anyway, that appears to be it for now.  I don't expect to do many updates from Geneva as I am planning on living on a bare-bones budget so that I can make it through Geneva and London and still do what I want to do during my 2 week break.  But I'm sure I'll have site visit updates and pictures to post, so keep an eye out.

Miss you all already.
Love - Heather
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