|Look at that dude|
When choosing to study abroad in Geneva, it didn't occur to me that I would be studying abroad in Switzerland but more Europe in general. Therefore, it didn't occur to me to travel within Switzerland. However, when my friend came to visit for a weekend and her sophomore year roommates planned a whole trip to Interlaken to show her our new home-country of Switzerland, I decided to join in on the fun. So the weekend before my study group left for a week-long adventure "Westward," we headed up to the alps.
When we got to Interlaken, we stayed in this hostel called Balmers. Apparently, it's the place to stay in Interlaken because two other girls from Colgate who are studying abroad in Dijon also happened to choose this hostel for their impromptu trip to the alps that weekend.
Looking around the room, there was the sense that people were attractive. Fitter and broader shouldered than any of the guys we had seen in skinny France, these skiers and snowboarders gave off the look of attractive. Upon closer inspection, we had realized that none of these guys were Swiss, but rather the entire club was full of American college students studying abroad, just shoveling out cash to go skiing in the alps. Upon even closer inspection, none of these guys were even cute, but yet they all seemed immediately more attractive than the hoards of Europeans we had seen all semester. This was the first time we experienced the American attraction phenomenon. (As Americans, we are more attracted to other Americans).
While we were at the club, Daheuin and Allie (the two girls studying in Dijon) said that they were going paragliding the next day. Staring at the screen which advertised this adventure, I was immediately pulled in. I starting sending emails to my mom, begging her to let me drop 170F to go paragliding in the alps! The next morning, I checked my email for my mom's verdict. You need to look at your expenses and see how much you are spending on your basic necessities. That sounded like a passive aggressive "No" to me.
|That could've been me!|
When we got off the gondola at the top of Männlichen mountain, we looked like complete idiots. Everyone else around us was doing serious Alp skiing and decked out in ski gear, while I was wearing a little jackalope sweater and running shoes. We wandered around the mountain and grabbed some food from the stands and headed over to the tanning area of the mountain. Yes, there were tanning lounge chairs on top of this mountain, since despite the snow everywhere, it was probably 70 degrees up there. After finishing our delicious food and taking some beautiful shots of the Swiss Alps, we went looking for the sleds.
|A little sunbathing in the Alps|
We started down the first hill and it was pretty mild, I can handle this. As we kept going, the real declines approached. The first one was terrifying, as I mildly lost control, futilely trying to dig my heels into the snow to slow down. Thankfully, the hill leveled out, naturally slowing me down. That was amazing! I thought to myself, I can totally handle this.
Exhilarated from that experience and the shot of adrenaline, I went for the next hill with confidence and didn't even dig my heels in as early. And then I kept on accelerating and accelerating. I began to dig my heels in as the first hill was followed not by a flat period, but another hill. The next thing I see is a "Slow Down!" sign followed by a even steeper drop. Slow down? At this point, I'm desperately digging my heels into the snow but with no affect. I let out a high pitched scream as my heart hung, suspended in my chest and then dropped as my body continued to accelerate. Soon I was going too fast that I knew there was no chance I was going to make it and my sled raced completely out of control straight towards the curve in the trial. I was thrown off my sled as it continued forward, only to be caught my the ankle attachment. I opened my eyes and found myself at the edge of the trial with my sled dangling over the side of the trial, half-way over the edge.
As I lay in the snow, waiting for my heart to stop racing, I watched the trial as I heard some shrieks. One by one the rest of my friends came screaming down from the hill and crashed into the snow (or one another). Suddenly, this sledding experience seemed really scary (and dangerous) all over again. After sitting there for a while to recover (and watch the experience sledders make it through that point with such ease), we decided to continue on. The hills only got steeper to the point where I gave up on sledding and tried to just walk down the hill. It was still too sleep. I scooted down on my butt. I still went down pretty fast. It was a really steep hill. In case you don't believe me about the intensity of this hill, we were directly parallel to the ski trial, coming from the top of the Swiss Alps. It was that steep.
It took us some time to realize that there was a reason why the trial we were on was so steep. We had accidentally taken the "expert" trial, instead of the safe, gradual trial for those with "shit shoes". When we finally got back to the regular trial, the whole experience was quite enjoyable and not dangerous at all. There were beautiful views with a nice, easy descent. If only we had just taken the right trial....well, if we had, I wouldn't have gotten my crazy abroad story from the alps! Oh, I almost forgot to mention the craziest detail of our sledding adventure. While we were struggling down this mountain on the verge of tears (well that was basically just me, but we were all freaking out), these parents with their babies trapped down would be whizzing down no problem in perfect luging form. Crazy Swiss families.