Thursday, July 31, 2008


Ok, so maybe I'm a little behind on blog posts.  
Maybe I should have foregone that third glass of Sangria and uploaded some photos. 
Maybe when I received a marriage proposal at a club one night, instead of thinking to myself, "man, this is funny, I should write about this on my blog," I actually should have gone and wrote about it. (don't worry, I'll mention it). 
Maybe instead of doing this, writing that I should have done this, should have done that, I should just do it. 

I had a good trip, a great trip. I saw things. I met people. I enjoyed. I tasted. I remembered. I learned.  But I did not blog.  So, here are some highlights of Switzerland:

My Persian homies
It's interesting to see how people immediately seek comfort and familiarity everywhere they go; even when their initial goal was to branch out and experience the unknown.  I went into the travel study program not necessarily wanting, but open, to meeting new friends different from the ones I have back home.  After all, I love the ones I have back at home so why would I want substitutes?  I'm going to be in a different country, trying different cuisines, speaking different languages, why not make a different group of friends?  

They came easily enough.  I was so fortunate to get along real swell with my roommie, Jessica and Sheila and Adena lived right next door so we all became fast friends, grabbing breakfast together and sitting next to each other in the bus.  

After the program, someone mentioned that they called us the "Persian group" and when identifying us, would say, "So the persian group, you know Janice and them..." I suppose it's just easier to label us like that.  Actually, we're not all Persian. Though my dark lashes and hair may mistaken me to be of Persian persuasion, I'm really Chinese.  Keren's an authentic Russian (does her blonde hair give it away?) and Adena's Armenian.  And actually, Jessica's only half Persian.  Her other half's Texan.  

I don't mind the label.  I enjoyed being Persian; drinking tons of tea during meal-time, freaking out because my straightener broke, being the loudest group everywhere we go.  And it wasn't like we were exclusive. We were friends with all. I think that was the best part about the program. It was small enough just so you can meet and get to know everyone but big enough so you didn't have to hang out with them 24/7.  I also played with plenty of other great people from the program.  Shout outs to all my lovers! You know who you are (But seriously, Brittany, it's only you...) I'm so going to Irvine next year and hanging out with all of them.

French really is a lovely language and Swiss-french is even lovelier.  It's all soft and breathy and trailed vowels.  I'm really going to miss not understanding the locals and speaking whatever's on my mind in English because I don't think anyone's going to understand me.  I think I'll still be saying "merci" for some time to come and winking at everyone within my sight but it just won't be the same!

The Montreux Jazz Festival
So I hear the OC Fair is happening right now and I have no itch to attend. Probably because for the last two weeks at Glion, I had been popping on down to the Montreux Jazz Festival almost every single night.  The Jazz Festival, with its overpriced but scrumptious snacks, groovy every-genre-ed music and scores of handsome European men, was worth the 10 Swiss Francs it cost every time to go down.  It was probably what saved us Glion kids from being bored of being in Switzerland.  The country's beautiful, but with all the shops closing at exactly 7:30 every night, there isn't exactly a booming nightlife fit for the city-bred kids that we are. 

 Formal Dinners

In Switzerland, we not only refined our academic minds but also our cultural ones.  Included in our program was a weekly formal dinner.  This gave all the girly girls a reason to dress up and the guys a reason to sport a tie.  Every dinner lasted around three hours, with the courses containing all sorts of delectable delights.  Plus, we got wines galore!  Braceface me was unable to drink red wine but I thoroughly enjoyed all the white wine I was fed.  Oh Glion, how you spoiled us.

Hot European Men
Sigh...if only my suitcases were large enough, I'd carry back truckloads of the hot European men I saw through my trip!  They sure breed them well over there! Everywhere I turned, (especially in Milan and Munich) were tall, dark/light and handsomes staring over at us.  They stared so I stared back. Thank goodness staring is the norm here because I don't think I would have been able to turn away my gaze.  

As for doing more than staring, let's just say I definitely had my share of summer fun.  But I don't care to divulge it here. After all, a lady should never kiss and tell.  You can ask me for stories in private. Meanwhile, above is a shot of my friend Mikey and I demonstrating the proper way to french kiss.  We're such pros, huh?

No Stress
I may be out of loop as to what sorts of tunes are hot in America right now but I was definitely N Sync with all the European tracks in constant rotation in European clubs.  My favorite song is "No Stress" by Laurent Wolf. I remember the first time I heard it, I was sitting at the front seat during a taxi ride back to school. The driver was this mean-looking man and I was more than nervous to have to sit next to him.  But halfway through our drive up, he turns up the volume to the radio, blasts the song and smiles at me. "You like?" he asks in a tone that's more a command than a question and I have to no choice but to tell him the truth. "Yes, I like."

Travel study.  Did I really do any studying throughout this trip?  Maybe about two hours right before each midterm and final. And yet, I still managed to score a 115% on my Finance midterm!  That's a perfect score, y'all! And I've never taken any Econ or Finance classes before in my life!  (Ok, that's a lie, I had a run at AP Econ in high school but anyone who's ever had any classes with Miss Urbien knew it was a joke)  I can't deny it. I felt really smart and quite giddy when my classmates would fight to sit next to me during the final.  Maybe my "no stress" mantra showed in my test-taking skills?

I really didn't have much to stress about when I was in Switzerland. There were plenty of thing I could have stressed about, such as my broken camera, my deaf ears or my shrinking wallet but I just let it go and danced.

There's so much more I can write about my program but I think I'll stop here.  The other stories, I'll save for relegating over cups of coffee and dinner (your treat). 

What's a good "highlights" list without some lowlights?  Get ready 'cause that's coming up next!

*photos courtesy of Adena, Catherine, Sepehr and Wilson

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hi, I'm Broken

I'm home.

My feet hurt, my throat's sore, my legs bruised (7 and counting), my head's throbbing, my shoulder's aching, my skin's cracking, my eyes bloodshot, my tonsils swollen, my ears deaf, my arms bitten (3 and counting).

But I'm home.

My laptop charger's missing, my camera's cracked, my suitcase zippers torn, my jeans unraveled, my phone plan's expired, my pajama stained, my water bottle dented, my watch water-clogged, my agenda's ripped, my chocolates melted.

But I'm home.

I now know to the fullest extent what they mean when they utter, "I need a vacation from my vacation."

When I arrived home Monday night, I was in a really bad shape.  Tuesday did not fare much better as I slept the entire day, up until this morning.  I didn't even want any of my mom's homecooked goodness.  I might even pass up a chance to got o Disneyland tomorrow!  When I was on the plane from Geneva to LAX, I seriously thought I was going to die. My one prayer to God was that he let me see my family before I go, that's how bad I was feeling.  Now, I don't feel as fatal but I still feel pretty darn awful. 

I'm just grateful that I was able to withstand the illness for as long as I had, seeing as all my travel-mates were also sick.  

Once I feel a little more up and running, I shall write some nice, long, overdue posts.  Meanwhile, try to guess which places these magnificent monuments and works of arts call home.

I apologize for any crookedness sensed. My broken camera tilts every time I click.  New camera time! What would you recommend I get?

Oh, and in case you didn't get the message; I'm home.  Use this information however which way you choose.

Friday, July 18, 2008


I apologize for the lack of updates as of late.  It's not that I've forgotten  about you, I promise. It's not that I've been at a standstill, not doing any traveling/sightseeing/picture-taking/adventure exploring.  It's not that I've been doing so much studying that my brain hurts every time I look at a computer screen. 

No's quite the contrary.  The real truth of the matter is that Blogspot uploads my pictures SOOOOO SLOWLY that each time I want to update, I groan at the thought of the hours I will have to spend on each new post.  That and my lack of a camera forces me to rely on my friends' pictures which just doesn't feel quite as right when posting because it's not my own. And with this time, I could be out having the time of my life.  So that's exactly what I did. I went out and had a good time.  

I faked "woohoo spring break!" pictures with my friends.  (In actuality, none of us were even remotely buzzed, much less drunk.  I'll be honest. I had ordered a granita with the intention of it being an alcoholic beverage but when the lady just gave me a plain ol' slushee and I asked her, "alcool?" and she laughed in my face, I found out that a granita is actually a non-alcoholic beverage. It was good though! But non-alcoholic.)
I danced on rooftops...
I visited amazing cities like Berne and Geneva...
and I gorged on delectable chocolates and pastries and veal and cheeses and breads and company.
More in-depth posts will come when I am at a place with a lot of time on my hands and have organized my thoughts and pictures correctly.  I wanted to thank you guys for reading on my adventures and I hope you will continue to do so.  Thank you, come again!

*special thanks to Adena for taking/making other people take all of these pictures except for the last one.  You know me and food shots.  I have to take them. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Milano, Mi Amor

Update on weekend Milano trip coming up! My camera broke so I've been stealing friends' pictures (thank goodness for Facebook).  Meanwhile, look what I found!

The Devil Buys Prada

Each year, I always try to top my past birthday presents for my mom. I remember when I went away one summer in high school and I forgot to call her on her birthday. OOOooOooOohh...never repeating that mistake.

This year, I not only interrupted her breakfast by calling at 7AM Cali time, but I also purchased the hot little number (seen above) at the first ever Prada store in the world at the fashion capital of the world of Milano, Italy. She had mentioned that she needed a party clutch. Hopefully, she'll like this one. And anyway, Prada never goes out of style. It just becomes vintage.
Hey, I think I deserve this touristy picture outside the first ever Prada store in the world. I paid enough for it!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Icy water melts my heart

I have never been one for outdoor excursions.  My idea of a great vacation used to entail air-conditioned spaces, a nice hotel room, good food, and good shops.  I used to joke that I was allergic to the sun because if I ever stayed out too long, I would start sneezing uncontrollably until my face became a cherry-tomato-ed mess.  Then I found out that it was no joke, I actually am allergic to the sun! 

I'm also not a very athletic gal.  My forte is being the cheerleader of the team and my contribution to victory is supplied by my pep and energy and good team spirit, not my bumbling two left feet, lack of balance and strength, blind near-sightedness, and flailing, uncoordinated limbs.

But I do love a good adventure.  And I've always wanted to try white water rafting.  So we assembled a brave team of soldiers and off we went to tackle the treacherously icy glacier rivers of Chamonix, France.  

It was everyone's first time but we signed up for an intermediate level ride anyway, where the water's flows a little more ferociously. We learnt to paddle hard really quickly. Sometimes we soared.
And sometimes we sunk.
but we always had fun.
I lucked out for photo opportunities when I volunteered to sit at the front.  Here I am hard at work.
It was a really hot day (so naturally my allergies flared up and I couldn't stop sneezing. It got so bad that Jean-Michelle, our instructor asked me, "why are you crying? Are you scared?" before set afloat.) but the water was frrrrrreeeeeezing cold.  And we were forced out of the comfort of our yellow raft several times to learn how to properly fall out of the raft, what to do when you fall over and have to swim down, etc. etc.  My brain is shivering just remembering that icy coldness.

It was worth it though.  All 48 euros that I paid for the excursion was worth it. 

Next adventure to try; paragliding!  Anyone interested in joining me?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Note to self:

-Whenever you go underwater, your ears will get plugged, leading to days of deafness and an unbearable crankiness will be launched upon the poor, unsuspecting citizens of your surrounding area.

-When you go through days without sleep, you will catch a cold and possibly endure splitting migraine headaches.

-Facebook is a fun shenanigan to play with but you should not spend your time in front of your laptop when you have beautiful Switzerland waiting for you to explore.

-When you sit on your camera, it will break the LCD screen.

I hope I learn my lessons.  It's no fun being deaf, sick, unproductive and without a camera. =(

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Holy Cow!

I love cheese. No doubt about it. My fridge is always stocked with Cheddar Jack or Brie.  I have a tendency to order the cheesiest dishes at restaurants and my friends call me "cheesy." (Though the last one may not be due to my preference for cheddar)  Therefore, it was a pleasant treat when we headed to the sleepy, quaint land of Gruyere, Switzerland for a tour of the Gruyere Cheese Factory, birthplace of my favorite afternoon-and mid-morning-and midnight-snack.
There, we endured an awfully long and mundane guided tour of the factory, using a listening guide to hear Cherry the Cow narrate the cheese's journey in a much too chirpy Swiss-English accent.

Our ears weren't the only senses tickled. We also worked our noses...

our hands...

and our tastebuds.

After the tour, we ventured into the village near the factory where we were transported to another time...a time of pretty buildings and cobblestone roads. 

Dinner that night was just the gooey mozzarella topping to a splendid Domino's pizza day.  We were treated to "raclett," a meal that consist of meats or potatoes covered with slow melted cheese that were grazed off its original chunk. YUM YUM.  
Happy cheese comes from happy cows which makes a happy Janice.

Travel (Study?)

This is the view outside our bedroom.
Yea. I know. How can anyone study here? 

Which is probably why I don't.

And probably why we look like we want to jump out of our rooms and make a run for the lake.
Ah Montreux...why do you have to be so beautiful?