I’ll start backwards and tell you I’ve just arrived at my host family’s house outside London this morning. Ken and Jan Keen are my host parents and they’re wonderful!! I walked out of the arrivals area and Ken was standing there with my name on a sign and a smile of his face. They’re so friendly and already I’m feeling quite at home. It’s been a relaxed Sunday (which I really appreciate) to get settled and rested before orientation starts in the morning at 10am. I live in a place in northwest London called Ruislip (pronounced Rise-lip, unlike Ru-slip which is how I said it before I arrived). It’ll be a long tube ride into school everyday, but it’s a nice quiet area here (reminds me a bit of Queen Anne so far, though I still have some exploring to do!), and I think it will be a great place to call home for a few months. This last week has flown by, though at times I was skeptical, and already it’s February and I’m imaging how fast this semester will go. Trying to remember how things are today, because come May it’ll seem like this was just a week ago when I arrived here.
I’ve taken a nap and gotten settled in a bit. I sat around and talked with Ken and Jan, heard about all their travels, they’re so fun, laughing and telling stories. They call me ‘love’ and ‘lovey’ all the time which I think is so incredibly British and cute, haha. Their son, Matthew, is coming for dinner tonight and then Jan and I have big plans to watch the LOST premiere tonight. (The UK finally caught up on episodes, so I can keep up while I’m here. It’s the only show I ever watch, so I’m allowed this one!!). Jan hasn’t watched it before, but I have high hopes of getting her addicted so it can be a weekly event 🙂
Anyway, I left Chamonix without much trouble on Friday. Had a really fun dinner with the 3 Aussies on Wednesday night and got in one last day of skiing at the Brevent/Flegere ski area on Thursday. On the way up the gondola met three Scottish guys from Aberdeen. They were impressed I knew the area and had friends in Banchory, so we talked the whole way up and then they invited me to ski with them for the day. They were all snowboarders and I asked if they were really good and would I slow them down. Looking back that was an incredibly stupid question… they’re from SCOTLAND, where the highlands are, not where the mountains are!! So I was quite a bit better than they, but since the snow wasn’t that great, I wasn’t missing any incredible skiing by staying with them. They were super friendly and made my last day of skiing really enjoyable.
Got into Geneva on Friday afternoon and was met at the train station by Emma, the daughter in the family who used to live on Queen Anne but who has moved just outside Geneva for Kim’s, Emma’s mom, work. A big thank you to Kim, Dan and Emma for allowing me to stay with them for a couple of nights. They live just outside Geneva across the border in France, but we talked Queen Anne and Seattle and about colleges for Emma. It was really nice to be with a great family and I felt very welcomed. So far, since I’ve been away, I’ve been incredibly blessed to always have been surrounded by a lot of really caring and welcoming people.
Yesterday afternoon I met up with Lisbee, who is studying in Geneva this semester. We walked a good portion of the city and saw basically all there was to see. Rick Steves has dubbed Geneva the most boring city and when I came in on the bus it seemed like there was a lot going on, so I was skeptical of its lack of entertainment. But after walking around for the day, I confirmed that in fact Rick does know what he’s talking about. We walked around the old town, saw a church John Calvin was at, saw a bizillion banks and watches and that was about it! We didn’t make it to the Red Cross museum, which I’ve heard is good, but I still feel content with the visit. Geneva gives the impression of being a big city because it’s incredibly diverse. With the UN there (we drove by a couple times, so I’ve seen it) something like 40% of the people in the city aren’t citizens of Switzerland (that’s what I was told, could be a bit different number, but you get the idea). It was fun to see Lisbee and hear about her program. I’m looking forward to a few more visits in the next few months with other friends who are also studying in Europe!
On to school tomorrow, I suppose that’s the whole reason I’m really here. Orientation and meeting all the other students starts in the morning. Should be great. Believe it or not, I think I’m ready for school again. Sorry I don’t have pictures up yet of Chamonix! I’ll get my computer and luggage from Devan tomorrow and get pictures up as soon after that as possible! Thanks to everyone I have heard from, hope everyone is well!