Snow fun

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

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Flag of Switzerland  , Valais,
Friday, February 5, 2010

We celebrated our 1/2 way point in Switzerland and in our program with an incredible trip to the Swiss Alps for some snow fun.  Webster organizes a big ski trip to Verbier every year and while most of us Globals didn't ski we wanted to go along anyway.  I definitely needed this trip!  All those mountains and the thin air did this Colorado Gal some good.

Verbier is THE place to ski in Switzerland.  This is where all the rich and famous have chalets and where the royals of Europe go skiing.  Basically its like Vail :-)  However, not nearly as posh, which I found interesting.  Because of this, however, accommodations are VERY expensive, so we were staying in the Verbier Sports Center.  I'm going to try to paint the picture of this for everyone, but believe me when I say that nothing will every get across the full experience that was our living conditions.  Also, fair warning, this was a very "interesting" trip, and as I'm all about full disclosure here, I'm telling all

So, the Verbier Sports Center has rooms that they rent out to groups, these rooms are in a bunker.  Yes, as in a cold war, save the rich if the commies attack, bunker!  We stayed in a bunker that had been painted to be more "cheerful" in nauseating shades of lime green and pepto-pink.  Webster had 2 bunk rooms, one for 48 people, one for 55 people.  Kerry, who organized the trip, asked us to divide up into the groups of people who were planning to be loud and party and those who wanted to sleep, unfortunately he then put those of us in the "I want to sleep" group in the room directly off the little common area where the loud people decided to drink and party.  There were 60+ students on this trip, all undergrads except the 8 of us globals.  The undergrads started the party on the train ride to Verbier, so 1/3 were already bordering on drunk when we arrived.  After settling into our triple bunks we had dinner at the sports center and then most people hit the bars.  6 of us left the bunks after the undergrads and ran in to Kerry as we were exploring Verbier.  He suggested we visit a place renowned for their apre-ski, and the fact that the undergrads weren't there was enough for us to go.  I have never paid that much for a drink in my life.  $21 for a mixed drink!  Oh, and then we were toasting each other and got shushed by the security guard, in a bar!  Granted, a posh bar, but a packed bar none the less.  We left as soon as we were all done and found another one that was very cute, very swiss (looked like a chalet inside) and where the drinks were cheaper and we could actually sit and talk.  Oh, and no undergrads.

On the hike back to the bunker at 1 am we got into a HUGE snowball fight in the street.  And like the IR geeks we are were spouting international law while lobbing snow at each other and throwing each other into snow banks.  Soaking wet and freezing cold, but oh so fun.  Sorry that the pics are a little blurry, I had my camera out and was taking a picture when Kit threw me in a 4 foot drift. 

Upon return to the bunker we walked into the undergrads party.  By this point I, and most of  the rest of the globals, had had enough of dealing with the undergrads and went to bed, sleep aided by headphones and just enough alcohol to make me sleepy.  They partied until at least 4am.

Saturday was a relaxing day of exploring Verbier, taking pictures of the glorious scenery, and then coming back to the sports center and hitting up the hot tub and swimming pool.  AHHHHHH!!!!!  Saturday night's dinner was fondue, a staple for the Swiss after skiing.  Unfortunately this was not like Kerry's fondue when we were in France.  We had cheese and bread, thats it!  No meats, no pickles, nothing.  Left much to be desired, and most of us still hungry.  Rather than go out early Saturday night, everyone stayed at the bunker and we had a little party of our own there, as did the Undergrads, we stayed separate most of the night.  At 11:45 everyone went out to hit the bars, I went to bed, it was past my bedtime and I'd had enough of it all.  I managed to get a good 3 hours of sleep before they all came back and woke me up, and several of the undergrads were up very very late, I woke up at 7:30 to their music still going.  I really just could not believe it.

Sunday morning I learned one very VERY valuable lesson.  That is this:  cheese fondue (and nothing else) + vodka + very little water + altitude = miserable morning.  They don't mix well!  Too little food in my stomach and even just the couple of drinks I had made me miserable in the morning, which was really bad because I had planned to take the ski lift the rest of the way up the mountain to see the view from the top.  Instead I spent the morning nursing a cup of coffee and some dry corn flakes and trying to get rid of a headache.  Oh, and I was the functioning one!  I was up at 8:30, and had to be the one that woke everyone else up 11.  The rest of Sunday was very uneventful.  Went and got lunch, did some window shopping and more pics, and just enjoyed the fresh air.

As for the bunker conditions.  60+ students, 4 toilets, 2 rooms.  One toilet was out of commission by Friday night, the other by Saturday morning, and when I got up on Sunday morning I took one look at the 4 stalls, choked down a gag reflex, put on my jeans and went to the main building.  The undergrads made a HUGE mess, and Webster was fined for it all.  Which Kerry passed on to everyone except the 8 globals and 3 of the undergrads, people he knew were not the guilty ones.  Absolutely disgusting!  By the time we left Sunday evening I think the Globals were definitely ready to be done with it all.

Despite all of this, I really did have a good weekend (clearly when it was just the globals).  Verbier is absolutely gorgeous and my pictures of it really don't do it justice.  We actually weren't as high as I thought we were, about the elevation of Denver, and that was 2/3 the way up the mountain.  It really was a pretty relaxing time, and as fun as it would have been to enjoy the snow, either skiing or sledding, just chilling in town and then in the hot tub was a nice change of pace from all the class work.

And now.....back to reality.  I'm actually writing this when I should be working on my midterm for War and Diplomacy.  Oops!  Oh well, I'm almost done.  Next week is the Humanitarian Conference, so it will be a CRAZY week.  I'm actually hoping to chat up a guy from the US State Department who is speaking at the conference.  He is apparently the oracle for US policy regarding resource security, which is essentially my capstone paper and increasingly looking like my "specialty" and probable field,  since I've written several papers on it.  So finger's crossed, maybe I can get an in ;-)  Only 3 more weeks here in Geneva, and then I'm off to Paris and then London.  Can't wait to see my parents in Paris!

I'll try to get an update in after the conference, until then, lots of love to all.
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