For most of my life my family and I traveled to Colorado every summer. My parents have always loved the mountains, and from continuous exposure to this kind of environment I’ve come to associate mountain air and small towns with peace at mind and genuine happiness.
This feeling was no different the moment our train traveled into Switzerland and into the beautiful green and mountainous land filled with stunning natural bodies of water. Switzerland so far has really felt like an intensified version of my summers spent in Colorado with family. But now I’m surrounded by greener grass, high mountains, crisper air, and another new familia.
While the extreme sports were extremely exciting and definitely a memorable experience that I’ll remember for a lifetime, I definitely wouldn’t characterize my experience here in Switzerland or my experience in CR as a whole by this one moment. Something that I actually took from the experience of hanging out with the hang gliding guys (two were from the US, and my glider that I flew with was from Switzerland) was right after I landed I noticed we weren’t just in any field, but a shooting range that wasn’t in use at the moment. I asked the glider, Freddy, about it and our conversation led to him explaining how all able-bodied male citizens of Switzerland have mandatory military service generally from age 18 to 30 and how it’s really common for people to practice in shooting ranges for service. This really came as a surprise to me and I really wish I had thought to ask more followup questions on the subject. I can’t help but wonder things like how this affects one’s path of education or how it affects family structure and timing in forming a family. It was definitely something that made me think even after coming back to the hostile of how different my life would be if we had mandatory military service in the United States. I probably wouldn’t be here in Europe. I probably wouldn’t start a family for a lot later than I would expect myself to. It’s not that I’m against serving my country, but I definitely think it would shape my feelings toward the notion of a free country, free-will, and my perspective when approaching major cultural institutions like education and family.
Later that day, me, Madelyn, and Taylor split from the rest of the students and decided to go kayaking over canyoning. Either would have been memorable experiences for different reasons, but I was so pleased by our time spent on the water and spent together. I definitely was the more daring kayaker, trying to go out as far as I could and enjoying the waves as they picked up with wind from an incoming storm. Not to mention, I beat Madelyn in a race ;). Even though it ended with the coastal warning light for boaters due to the storm coming in and winds picking up, it was nice to spend time with these two and I felt it was a meaningful time for all of us.
While Saturday was extremely peaceful and a time to exhale, Sunday had to have been one of if not my favorite day so far. Our hike through the Valley of 72 Waterfalls and trek to the top of Schilthorn mountain for lunch was right down my alley. My entire life, taking walks has been something I value because it gives me time to think and slow down every day life. I can easily say this was the most beautiful, most memorable walk I’ve ever been on. Also, it’s always really fun to do something all together as a group and most of us half-falling asleep at the top of a mountain in a buffet right after hiking around 6-7 miles always contributes to a growing bond.
I’ll really miss Interlaken and I’ll really miss Switzerland as a whole. I’m so confident that I’ll come back here and I’m so thankful for this opportunity to have experienced all that we have here.