Es schmeckt nach Weihnachten..

It smells/tastes like Christmas... 

Well, it's really really really beginning to look a lot like christmas.

But that can mean a lot of things for people. When I think of this joyous season, I think of...

  •  presents 
  • a fat man in a red suit with 8 reindeer who goes down a chimney in the middle of the night
  •  mall shopping
  •  my familys plastic christmas tree thats 8 feet tall
  • All christmas movies (A christmas story, rudolph animated movies, etc.) 
  • christmas carols 
  • traveling to both ends of the country in one week
  • not having school for 3 weeks
That's what christmas means to the majority of americans, it's a one day deal (normally, minus shopping).

But here it's different, like everything else.

Christmas in Switzerland begins 4 sundays before christmas. This is the 1. Advent. It's a christian tradition, to light one candle every sunday before christmas, beginning 4 sundays ahead. As usual, there's a brunch with more food than Africa can eat.

Then on December 6th, it's Sammichlaustag. This is when Santa comes in. On this day, Santa rides into the forrest on his donkey with his midget helper, named schmutzli (literally translated into little dirty). The kids go into the forrest and find Santa, then they have to say a poem. Schmutzli helps Santa (Sammichlaus) decide if they're good or not. If they've been good, they receive a bag filled with peanuts, chocolates, and mandarin oranges. And depending on if your village is protestant or catholic, santa could be dressed in "normal" red, or dressed in traditional brown religious clothes.

Then come the 3 following Advent Sundays. They're the same, just with one more candle. What people do in this time is different than what we americanos do.

  • They make guetzli. Basically christmas cookies, except smaller and there's a MILLION different kinds. The leftovers of these 8r70534953457 cookies will be put on a plate and eaten. Not so bad. 
  • They go a Weihnachtsmarkt, or christmas market. This is when the whole town has a bunch of stands/stations on the streets for a couple days or weeks, and they sell assorted goods. Some sell products, but most sell food. Sausages, Glühwein, Brötli, Chocolate, and Schnapps are typical. I've been to many of these and they're always a good time :) 
Then on the 24th of December it's finally christmas! YUP. THE 24TH. HAHAH. This is called Heiligabend. This is when presents come. The kids go out of the house for the day, and the the Christkind (christ child, jesus, but really it's the parents.) comes in through the front door and sets up the christmas tree and presents and what not. The 25th or Weihnachten isn't anything special besides family time, but it's always family time here so whatever.



Life in Switzerland is immer noch schön. The thing now is that it's turning into life, and not vacation. This is the adjustment stage. I've so far been amazed by all of the new wonders of the Swiss culture, but now they're becoming a bit more familiar, and slowly being integrated into my head. Zum Beispiel, I blew my nose in class, in front of everyone (sorry mom!). That's a totally normal thing here, and most definitely not in America. However I did it because when in Rome do as the Italians. It's funny how fast people can adapt. Anyways, Switzerland and I are out of the honeymoon stage but we still love eachother madly. 

Here's what's been going on in my life... 

IT SNOWED! Everything is white and beautiful and cold. It's a real live winter! I love it! I made a snow angel in the middle of my schools soccer field, it was amazing! But I didn't realize that you got wet when you played it the snow. (Someone said it had something to do with it being made out of water). 

I saw Harry Potter. I'm so mad. WHY IS THERE TWO PARTS TO THIS MOVIE?I CAN'T WAIT THIS LONG. Good news is that I understood all of it. I'm currently on the 2nd book in German, which is basically what I do in school :) 

I ate Ben & Jerry's! Cookie dough to be exact. 

I made a pumpkin pie! AND IT WAS EDIBLE. Nobody here really understands thanksgiving, but they did enjoy the pie. They don't get how all we do is eat on the holiday. HELLO? IT'S FOOD. 

I find it's getting harder for me to boil my life into details because everything isn't as exciting. Don't get me wrong, I love it here, and I'm having the best time of my life. I just can't get all woop die blue blah when I am so used to it. Things here are almost normal. 

I'll tell you one thing though, I miss my friends like crazy. Swiss people are known to have a hard shell, and this has truth to it. I'm trying to break through there coconut shells, but I know you can't just do it with one strike. Persistence persistence persistence. 

Und gemeinsam gingen sie durch das Tor zurück in die Muggelwelt...


so ist das Leben.

und es ist schön.

I'm going to really start trying to update this on Sundays from now on, because I've discovered that people read it. That's so cool, all this time I thought I was talking to myself :P

Anyways, a week in review..

Monday I had school as usual. I can't remember doing anything specifically special. So we'll leave that day at that.

Tuesday I had school again. Still usual. I also went exercising with my host mom after school. We go to a community center in a neighboring village and do random things in a group. Yoga, stretching, really random half dance things. It's exercise though, and that's wichtig. 

Wednesday I had school again. After that, I picked up Andy at the Bahnhof. Then we went home and hung around for the day. He met my host parents and what not. It was nice.

Thursday I went to school from the until noon. Normally on Thursday I have no school in the afternoon, but today I had a Themanachmittag. This is when the school takes two subjects and you do a project between the two, integrated. My class has Geography and Art. However, I did not attend this because I had a "headache" and went home. We ate lunch and then went to the Hoher Kasten. It's a mountain close to here, and it's beautiful. We rode up the mountain, drank Kaffee and ate Biberlis. Kaffee is coffee. Literally translated a Biberli is baby beaver, but it's actually a little cake that almost tastes like gingerbread. After that we walked down the mountain. Or we ran, depending on your nationality. It was really difficult for me to walk downhill in the snow. I've never learned how to walk in the snow. It was really beautiful though. That night, we had champange fondue. Melted, delicious cheese with bread. <3. And if you drop your bread in the fondue pot, you have to do something. Maybe run around barefoot in the snow, or do the dishes. It depends from family to family.

Friday we went to Winterthur, a city 20 km away. We walked around, had a quasi pic nic, filled with müesli, rivella, gipfeli, brötli, and schoggi. Then we went to the movies and saw the social network, in German. The movie theather had around 12 theaters, but each only seated 40 people! IT WAS SO TINY. The movie was good, but it costed CHF 18.- a person. Willkommen in der Schweiz. 

Saturday we went on a mini hike in my town. We tried to find a tower but got lost. It was still was beautiful. There's actually fall here. The leaves are all yellow and orange, and it's COLD. But I love in none the less.

That's all for now, sorry there's no pictures. It doesn't work for some reason. You can always look at them on facebook. :)

Auf Wiedersehen alle miteinander. 


fön is fun!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! I really miss that right now. But anyways, here's what's going on..

School started on Monday, which was just wonderful. It took all my strength and many cups of coffee, but I mananged to do it. I got a pick me up during the day when I saw that I passed my physics test! I got a couple bonus points, but regardless, I PASSED. Tests here are very different. We don't have them all the time. Maybe a couple a semester. And they are your only grades, so you need to pass every single one. We get graded from 1-6, with 6 being the best. But you can't get more than a six, like how we get 110's (sorry sam marvin). And not everyone gets a 6 or a 5.99. People fail. A lot of people. Or they get a 4.5, which is hardly a B. And that's good for them. Also, tests are really short. this test was 7 questions, and we had 45 minutes to do it. Here's the classes and grades I've had so far...
Physiscs: 4.4
Music:  5.5
French: 5
Sport: I don't remember but I passed
Geography: Wasn't graded, but my answers were creative, such as "Die Schweiz hat köstliche Käse."

I also had a test in math this week, quadratic functions, whatever. And I have a test tomorrow in Biology, OVER PHOTOSNYTHESIS AND CELLULAR RESPIRATION. hahahahaha. what is this, freshman year? :D

On tuesday night I went with my mom to her excersize class. There were a lot of old women and they did Yoga with really bad form and they had scented balls to help them. I'll do anything to bond with my host parents though. It's hard to find stuff to do with them. Then wednesday I went to have hot chocolate with another exchange student from Finland. It was delicous. Thursday I went and got a swiss bank account with credit suisse and had chorus practice. They call it a gospel choir, but the closest they sing to gospel is Michael Jackson. It's adorable though. I love their accents. Friday my plans fell through so I hung around the house :( Saturday I went to Konstanz (In Germany) to go winter clothes shopping. Germany is cheap, even after you get past the euro. Also, since they have weird taxes there, I get money back for not being german! Isn't that lovely? :) Then at night, I went to my host brothers to celebrate halloween. He and his fiancée even decorated the apartment! It was sooo nice :) Today we went flying around and looked at some mountains and lakes and it was so pretty :) you can see pictures on facebook :)

Right now I'm going to the neighbors to eat Raclette :) I'm not sure completely what it is, but I'll let y'all know another time.

Ciao :)


It's about time that I write a complete entry. My father has been begging me to do so, because apparently people read this? THANKS :) So, write now I'm just returning home. Today, I went to brunch with my host mom and some family friends at a chocolate factory in the neighboring village. Brunch happens every Sunday, but normally at home. It's a very rare treat to eat out here, because everything is so expensive. Here's a menu of what we ate: 
Bread (Croissants, mini breads with seeds or not or wheat or whatever) with butter, or jelly. 
Meat (Salami, Panchetta, Bologna-esque meat with jelly inside, Horse meat, Roast beef) 
Fruits (Kiwi, Canteloupe, Johannesbeer which we don't have, but it's like a cranberry, Pinapple, Grapes) 
Cheese (There aren't any words that I know of in englisch to describe how wonderful cheese is here, but there's a billion different kinds and they are all superb) 
Chocolate (The same description as above) 
Coffe, Tea. 

Brunch here starts early, because nobody in Switzerland EVER sleeps in. So we arrived at 9 and left at 1:30. The group mostly consisted of elderly folk. But there was a really nice girl my age who I hope to be good friends with! We played hangman, I did words in english and her in german. It was really funny. 

The past 4 weeks I haven't had regular school. The first week was project week, where each student picks one or two things to do for the week. I went with a group to Geneva to look at organisations there (red cross, doctors without borders, UN) and had a German course. 

The past three weeks have been Holidays. The first week I was in Germany, which was wonderful :) It's crazy how the country is right next door and is still different! It's not as pretty as Switzerland, but it's still nice!

 The last 2 weeks I was in Italy! How wonderful! It feels like a different country for sure. Everything is chaotic and not perfect like Switzerland. AND EVERYTHING IS CHEAP!! We went out to eat and shopped in the market, and I bought a pair of boots for 20 euros! That's unbelievable! Also we went to Rome, which was magnificent. I saw all of the general tourist attractions (pictures on facebook). We also went to the beach twice, and I swam in the Mediterrainian Sea! It was freezing though. The rest of the time we went mountain biking or jogging or read books. It was wonderful!

 I also went to meet a friend in Zürich for a day, which was fun. We walked around the city and then went back to her house for dinner (chile!). Lastly, I went to Luzern with a friend. It was so nice. A truly beautiful city. We went to a traffic museum, which had boats and cars and planes and spaceships and what not. It was really fun though! And we also saw an IMAX movie about Africa. And I understood it, which made it even better. 

I feel the need to discuss the cultural differences between America and Switzerland, now that I understand them from both points of view. Both being westernized civilizations, they are hard to spot from the outside. However, they most defintiely exist. 

When you greet someone, you always shake their hand and say your name & theirs. This is terrible for me because I never remember anybodys name. Even when you meet a young person your age, or say goodbye, always the hand shake. When you're closer to someone (which takes more effort than in america) then you do the kiss on the cheek but you don't actually kiss them on the cheek maybe one time maybe three time thing. NOBODY EVER HUGS ANYBODY HERE. I've been craving a good hug like mexican food, but that just doesn't go down here. 

When you "cheers" before you drink, you always say the persons name after. So, if you wanted to say cheers to me, you would say, "Prost (or Zum Wohl), Mary" Names are important here. 

There is a much bigger stress on health and exercise here. Everything we eat is fresh, which is hard for an american to understand. when we make pizza for example (yes we make it, we don't order it) my mom makes the pizza dough, then cuts up the fresh mozerella cheese, tuna, tomatoes, peppers, and salami which she bought at the latest yesterday. We stick it in the brick oven and it's delicous. There's no such thing as fast food or microwaveable meals here. And also, we always do something to get exercise, everyday. Whether it's PE class at school, or jogging, hiking, handball, volleyball, gymnastics, always. And not only young people, old ones too. 

Manners are totally different if not unexistant. You can blow your nose anywhere, at the dinner table, in class, in bed, wherever. Also, you use the same tissue all day. (but they are more like super-tissues, or cloths). Also at dinner, you eat with both your knife and fork at the same time, and cake you eat with your hand (or a spoon, if it's too messy). If you want to lick your plate clean, go right ahead, or you can clean it with some bread. BUT YOUR PLATE BETTER BE CLEAN. and i mean spotless. 

I know the people in Europe/Switzerland has a reputation for being "cold". I wouldn't use this word, but I understand what they are saying. People are nice, always willing to help you and answer questions. However, it's more difficult to create a personal relationship with someone. It takes a lot of effort, but with time they will be the best friends ever. People aren't going to act like your best friend if they're not. 

And now normal life starts. School, Weekend, Rinse&Repeat. Still not homesick, if you're wondering. But I do miss somethings: 

Mexican food, Chinese food, Chick fil a, Zaxbys. 
My cat, my friends. 
Warm weather. 
Being loud. 
Senses of Humor (don't exist here). 
That's about it. 

Tschüss! :) 


a quicky

im making this quick because in 20 minutes im leaving for italy.

my life is amazing. the quality of life is honestly better. the food is delcious. except for these things.. (but they're still good)

rivella: my favorite drink. except i discovered today that it's made of whey. WHEY? REALLY? but it's delicous.
horse meat: on a sandwich. everyday, but its good.
fleischkaese: literally translated, "meat cheese". it's like bologna, but hot and made out powder.

i have to go now, were going to toscana for two weeks.



eine kleines reise.

that's what I did today.. along with other things. Here's how it went..

I woke up and found that I was home alone. I went downstairs and ate my Joghurt, and had some Kaffee. It's the breakfast of champions :) Then I went upstairs and laid back down, because it's sunday and I couldn't think of anything better to do. My host mom came upstairs after her 1 hour and a half long run "No big deal", she said. She said we were eating breakfast shortly, which I thought was odd, because not only was it past ten, but also we have never eaten breakfast together. So I go downstairs and we have Morgen Mittagessen, also known as brunch. Apparently that happens every Sunday. On the menu was..
Muessli, Zopfbrot (THE BEST), assorted meats and cheeses, Fruit Medly, Nutella, Marmalade, and Kaffee. Yummy :) Then after that I decided to try something new. So I went upstairs and cleaned. They don't have a vacuum cleaner or a broom here, what you do is you take this tube and plug it into the wall and it vacuums. It's weird, but I like it. So after that adventure, my host-father told me that we were going on a kleines reise with my host brother and pseudo host sister. We went to a CASTLE!!! Munot, to be exact, in Schaffhausen. It was gorgeous, and I got some really great pictures. Then we went to the rhinefalls, which were breath taking. Someone told me they were small, but they looked pretty big to me. After that, we drove home where we ate sauceless delicious spaghetti. It was kind of spicy, but not really. My host parents, however, warned me that it was SEHR SCHARF. I would love to see them eat thai food :) After that we fernsehen-ed. Now I'm here writing this with droopy eye-lids. I'm officially in love with Switzerland, and if it were possible, I would marry her and her mountainy greatness. I guess I could settle with living here though :)

Träum Süß!


second day ii de Schwyz.


So. My host mother came in my room at 12:30 and said, "Schlaefst du NOCH?" oops, i guess i slept in too much.So I dressed and ran downstairs and lunch was served, pasta casserole with potatoes and cheese. it was good, but not good for when I just woke up. So after that we went into Frauenfeld, and I bought a razor and some tooth paste. The toothpaste cost about 2.- franken, the razor cost 70.- FRANKEN. but I got a 2 year warantee so it's the last razor i'll need. There is no tax in switzerland, which is nice. Then we went home and I helped my host mom cook dinner, I cut the mozerrella while she cut other things. We sat outisde and drank Kaffee until people came over. First was my host uncle, who is very nice. Then came my host brothers girlfriend, who is romanian and speaks no german. Finally my host brother came. In Switzerland, they do the 3 kiss thing. AWK. but I like it. Then my host grandparents stopped by and gave us some fruit and wine. The wine was sooo good & sweet. I think they made it. Then we had pizza, fresh from the brickoven. It had tuna, squash, zucchini, salami, pepperocini (fresh from italy), and onions on it. with fresh mozerella, of course. everything here is either homemade or fresh! It was so good, but they gave me a whole pizza and I couldn't finish it :( That's not rude here though, so isch guet. HOWEVER, it is rude to pop your knuckles, i think. OH BOY. So then we had some wine from italy, barsomethingorother. it was red and delicious, like the apple. Then my host brother helped me set up the internet and told me how to use the trains. He is such a big help, he's great! Then we went outside and talked and then everyone left. Then I went upstairs and took a shower and skyped and now I'm writing this. I plan on sleeping soon.

Gute Nacht, Schoenen Obick!


Alright blog, here is my first day.

The plane ride wasn’t bad, I couldn’t sleep due to the crazy ridiculous amount of excitement. But oh well. I watched how to train your dragon, auf Deutsch. Then I wrote in my Tagebuch. We had a meal somewhere in there, but I didn’t care for it too much. After that I listened to music, and showed the lovely ladies next to me my pictures from Georgia. I thought I had lost my iTunes library, but I found it! YAY. I also read some of the New York times. Mostly what I did was sit there and let my imagination go wild. That’s my favorite thing to do. So after that we got off the plane and made our way to customs. We got out of there in a good 4 minutes, all 12 of us. I can’t even get INTO America that fast, and I’m a citizen there! All of the employees at the airport were so nice. So we went to baggage claim and I went to the restroom to change out of my sweatpants, because that’s a no-no here. Then I grabbed my bag and we walked through the exit and voila! All of the host families were there, with AFS staff. I didn’t recognize my family at first, but once I found them I gave them a hug and we went to the parking lot. I hopped in the red BMW cross-over type car, and we were off to Felben! The ride was gorgeous, you could see some mountains and the clouds were right at eye level and it was just lovely. So we arrived and I got a tour of the house. It’s not as big as an American house, but it has two stories and I like it. I also have two rooms, which is odd. Ones for sleeping, the other is for school work and friends. Isch guet! So then I unpacked my bags, and my room looks really good (sleeping room, that it) I have an IKEA-esque shelving/cabinets on the wall where I put all my clothes and books. My American flag will be hanging over my bed as soon as I figure out what the word is for thumb tack. On my desk I have my laptop, camera, golden Buddha, the lovely scrapbook my best friends gave me, my 17th birthday candle from Dezmone, a picture frame with me & Andy in it, and my iHome. I hung a red sox hat on my lamp, because I couldn’t live without it being in my eyesight. Also in my room, I have a sink and a half shower. I only use the sink though. Outside my window to the right you see the garage and the street, in front of you there is the lanai with brick oven for pizza and grill. We eat lunch out there, which is the largest meal of the day. And to your left, you can see COWS. And they smell really mad and never stop mooing. But I really like it anyways. So after all that jazz, we had mittagessen. Steak with potatoes and salad. It was good, I think there was chocolate cake involved but I was too tired so I went to take a nap. When I woke up, my host uncle was here and we had coffee. IT IS SO DELICIOUS. No coffee shop in America could ever come close to Swiss coffee, and this was made at home. I can’t wait till Morgen Morgen when I can have another cup. Or twelve. After that, my host mom told me that we were going out, and I though she said jogging, so I changed into work out clothes. Apparently, jogging and going to some large festival is not the same thing. So, we rode the bus to Frauenfeld, it took about 3 minutes. Then we went into the bahnhoff and got my tickets for language camp squared away. Then we walked around and found a place to stand on a wall to watch the most obsquere parade ever. There were Jodlers, a given. Then farmers who passed out their crops, apples and carrots being most common, also fresh cream to drink. Then there were these floats with boys wrestling on them. But they only could hold onto the other boys pants. Whatever. Also, there was another where these buff guys threw a heavy rock around. It was entertaining, to say the least. Then we walked near the Stadium where a million people were camping. There were so many booths selling so many different things, and there were hot air balloons! As I passed one shop, this man said something to me in Swiss German and offered me a piece of cheese. OHMYGOD. My life was complete at that moment. It was so creamy and smooth, I could have cried. He deserved a big merci for that. So, then we went atop this hill and met with some family friends I assume and watched a plane show, it was really good. After that we walked 398247023897641283745610238746123897451928376401238746`0293476 kilometers home. Then we had a real European dinner, bread, meat and cheese. It was the perfect thing too, because I was so full from all the free food that I only wanted a little something. And that’s what I got. Then I came upstairs and checked my facebook and wrote some emails and took a shower, which was interesting. Their shower is amazing, But I don’t know if what I was using was soap, because it was in Italian. Anyways, after you shower, you have to squeegee the glass. You know the things they have at gas stations and you get that dirty soap water and clean your windshield? The thing that dries it off, that’s what you have to do. Huh. So I did all that and brushed my teeth and now I’m writing this. It wont be posted until I get WIFI, so whatever. Tomorrow I’m going to a rodeo and Sunday were going to somebodys house. Monday I start language camp, which should be good, since I will get to see people my own age. YAY.

Tschuess, ciao, bis spaeter,
Mary J



& FINALLY, i was accepted by La Suisse. What felt like a lifetime in hindsight now seems like a tiny gap in time. I went BAZERK when I received the email. I was sitting in my car, waiting on a friend, & decided to check my email. Then voilà! The email I had been anticipating for lord knows how long was sitting in my inbox. Initially, I jumped around (in my seatbelt mind you, which must have been a sight). Then I called my grandmother, who was equally excited as I was. After that, I called my parents, who were in the middle of a dinner party but decided it would be a good idea to announce to all of their guests. Finally, I made it official by posting the event on facebook (for nothing is official until it is your status!). Now, a few weeks later, I'm sitting in my bed writing this blog entry to share my excitement with you all.

So, What's Next?! Next is what might be the longest wait. I have to mentally prepare myself for the initial culture shock, try my hardest at memorizing the french dictionary, learn all of the nasty german grammar rules I can possibly fit into my brain (just in case), get my visa, and then, find out who my host family is!! Excitement doesn't even begin to describe how I feel about my departure. I can only dream about all of the experiences I will have. I have a recurring dream where I live on top of a mountain, with 8 different family members, none of them speak english, and they are chocolatiers. Stereotypical? A little. A girl has to dream though.

That's all I have to say for now. I will post more when more information comes along, or when I receive my ChipIn button.

Thanks for reading!

p.s- the title isn't spelled wrong. C'est en français!