YFU Switzerland

My first blog post – arrival and camp

Hey there.

Four days have passed since I’ve started my exchange year. I wanted to write a blog post before I leave but well, that didn’t happen. It just wasn’t as important as other things that I wanted to do before I left Switzerland for almost a year.

Now I live in Leighton Buzzard in a beautiful, cosy house, surrounded by trees and chirps of all kinds of birds. Picture me sitting in my bed under the blanket, but not slurping tea as you would  maybe have expected.It’s really cold here. You’ll only find me wearing pullovers and my winter scarf. It doesn’t feel like the end of Summer, it feels like the beginning of winter.

But let’s start from the beginning.

In Switzerland I started packing half a week before I had to leave. School had already started but I only went there once to say goodbye. Thus I had a lot of time to meet friends and do other things. Packing wasn’t very hard. I didn’t own that many clothes anyways, so I mostly knew what I wanted to take with me. But because it was extremely hot in Switzerland at the moment, I kind of forgot that it would be colder in England, so I didn’t pack as many warm clothes as I should have.
Altogether I packed one big suitcase plus my backpack that I’m going to wear at school. Eventually my luggage weighted less than 20 kilos, however my backpack was heavy and stuffed.

Thursday was the day my adventure started. 23.08.2018. My plane was flying at ten past nine and after breakfast at the airport it was time to say goodbye. The flight took two to three hours. It was nice meeting the other exchange students from Switzerland who were going to the UK or Ireland. When we arrived in Dublin it was raining. After long hours of waiting all the exchange students had arrived and we took the bus to Carlingford, a town by the sea. What I didn’t think of until that time was, that they also had left-hand traffic in Ireland. So I got surprised when cars were approaching us on the right side of the street.

We didn’t do a lot that day so let me tell you about the food. We ate potato fries with pizza, fried veggie burgers or sausages and baked beans. Nothing green in sight. Wow. I was astonished and so was everybody else. Even though we knew that this was the kind of food they eat here, we still didn’t expect it to be like that. We ate similar food again the next day.

The next day we had lots of group sessions. It was great to meet other YFU-exchange students from all over Europe and getting to know some of them. There were 110 exchange students. 80 of them were from Germany. I also met two dutch girls and some Norwegian students.

In the evening we did something great: Scottish dance. There was live music (piano, drums and accordion) and a man and woman showed us what we had to do. At the beginning we split up in groups of two and later we did big group dances. It wasn’t easy, I can tell you, but a lot of fun.
(I wanted to show you a video clip but unfortunately it doesn’t work because the file is too big)

Then, Saturday, we left the camp early to get to the airport. There we had to wait six or seven hours before we could get on the plane. The flight only took us about one hour and then we got picked up from our host families.

I noticed that I hadn’t taken any pictures in Ireland so I took some when we sat in the bus back to the airport:
(Again, files are too big, if you want to see the pictures, go to my personal blog)

Some of you may not have known that I have a host sister. Her name’s Alina and she’s from Finland. She’s also with YFU so I met her at the orientation camp but we didn’t talk a lot because we spent time with our own friends. We will have enough time to get to know each other throughout the year anyways.

England is beautiful. I love the houses and the gardens and the landscapes and and and. But especially the houses. Arriving at my new home I had a big smile on my face. I couldn’t have been luckier with were I got – especially the location is amazing. The traditionally built house made of bricks has a garden with two big trees in it and is surrounded by other trees. I live in a small forest! There’s a nice view from every window I look through.
My host mother is very kind. She’s nice and funny and has told us many times that we are a family now and should treat the house as our own.

After the arrival our host mom warmed up the food she had already prepared in advance. It tasted great. I’m really lucky, that my Indian host mother likes to cook.

Alina and I are sharing a room. There are two other free rooms we could sleep in but they belong to my host mother’s children who sometimes come and visit. If we want to, we can sleep in one of the other bedrooms but we would have to change room quite often. And for now we’re good with sharing a room.

I feel well and confident in this home and hope it’ll stay like that.

Yesterday, Sunday, we went to Milton Keynes on the afternoon. Milton Keynes is a nearby city of Leighton Buzzard. There’s a huge shopping centre that we walked through. On the way home we went to a Sikhs temple. Sikhism is a sort of Hinduism. It hasn’t existed for long, it’s a quite new religion. My host mother isn’t a Sikh but since it’s a Hindu religion, she went there. We had to take off our shoes and put a scarf on our hair. In a huge hall there were white blankets everywhere on the floor and an altar was placed in the front. Later, as we got out of the hall, someone gave us Karah Prashad, a pudding which is a sacred food that Sikhs (and some Hindus) eat after they have done their prayers. It’s similar to the altar bread (Hostie) in the Catholicism.
After this very interesting experience we went home to eat the filled donuts we bought in the shopping centre and watch TV together. I will for sure not starve in this house:)

Today my host mom showed us the way to our school. We will walk and it will take about 45 minutes one way. I was very shocked when I first heard that but the way is very nice and it doesn’t feel as long as it sounds. So I’ll manage. And I’ve got someone to walk with so that makes it better.

I’ve still got more than a week of holidays since our school starts on Wednesday, 9th September.

The view from my new home

Thanks for reading this long blog post.

To see all the pictures and clips, visit my other blog🙂

-Hanna