Travel Log 4: “Studying Abroad…It’s More Than Just a Walk in the Park” by Steven Schnittger Lugano, Switzerland

So being here for two weeks now I’ve already done a ton of walking around the city and thought I had seen a good portion of the downtown area, however taking part in the walking activity proved otherwise. Whenever I was walking I was always going somewhere, whether that be a restaurant, the supermarket, or a drugstore there was always a destination. I’m not sure if it is an America thing, a New York thing, or a me thing but I am always concentrating on the final destination and everything around me turns into a blur. Slimbach wrote that, “We humans are pedestrians. And although we’re used to covering ground quickly by motor vehicle, we need a slow-motion mode of transport to truly absorb our surroundings.” Now I don’t walk in slow-motion normally so I had to consciously tell myself to slow down and take things in, even though there were tasks to do during the walk I had to take my time and be mindful of what was around me.

I encountered lots of people and places on my adventure so I’ll start by describing the day that I went out but some of the things I have observed are from different experiences in the downtown area. I got lucky that the day I decided to go on my official walk it was the first nice day in about a week. This is probably what contributed to me seeing the most people I had seen in the downtown area since the first weekend I arrived in Lugano. So, it was warm and busy and people seemed to be in a very good mood compared to the foggy and rainy days that the city had been experiencing for some time. It also must have been the day for glass recycling because, outside of several liquor stores and bars, there was the sound of glass being broken repeatedly. It was bizarre because on one street in particular, it was difficult to hear myself think from the noise. However, nobody seemed too concerned with the sound so I figured it must be relatively routine and tried not to pay too much attention to it.

Moving on to the people, I would say that most are genuinely nice but reserved. It is more like New York City where people pay you no mind when they pass you, where as I was expecting lots of smiling faces and hellos like you would get in a small town. This attitude does however not end in Lugano as I did go to one of the small towns in the German/French speaking part of Switzerland where people seemed to have a similar mindset. People are however very friendly if you approach them and ask for directions or advice on where to eat, which I have done a few times now. The people in Lugano also seem to have a similar opinion to what I just experienced in Florence where there is no rush to get anywhere, but as my travelogue mentions, it is important to be on time. I noticed that around the beginning of lunch time people were strolling about without a care in the world and took their time ordering, just like they do during dinner. But once people leave there is a bit more hustle as they probably have appointments to get to. The people here are also extremely fashionable. I rented a tuxedo for my high school prom that was nowhere near as good looking as some of the pairs of sweatpants I have seen kids wearing. There is really a sense of style with people both old and young that I don’t see from day to day, and I couldn’t imagine owning a wardrobe big enough to cope with it all.

Talking about the town itself, one of the first things I noticed was how walkable everything is. Although there are buses everywhere, I don’t have a problem walking a half an hour to dinner or classes. Everything is impeccably clean, which makes sense given the extreme garbage laws here in Lugano. I’m pretty sure I read that the punishment for littering is immediate execution. The city is also very safe, and although I don’t see many police officers, I see enough to know that they are there. And if there isn’t a police officer there are probably 15 cameras watching the street that I am sure are being monitored by somebody. Although there may be strict financial privacy laws in Switzerland, also mentioned by my travelogue, there aren’t many laws protecting a person’s privacy when walking down the street. Lugano’s winding streets also seem daunting and difficult to navigate, and as I mentioned before I have gotten lost a few times, but the lake is a great security blanket when it comes to getting around. As long as I know what direction the lake is in, I can figure out my way back home.

Lugano is a great city and walking around is truly the only way around. Taking my time and not having a destination in mind was a great way for me to get comfortable and oriented with the city. I’m not sure if I will ever call it a home but I am getting acquainted with it in the same way I am acquainted with the campus and area surrounding Quinnipiac. When I leave for a weekend of travel I absolutely miss the familiarity that the city provides.

 

Swiss Watching: Inside the Land of Milk and Money, turned out to be less of a travelogue and even less of a travel guide than I expected or hoped for. What it really turned out to be was more of a guide and history of Switzerland, which although interesting was not what I was looking for in a travelogue. It did give an insight into the land and people of Switzerland which was helpful, especially when I travelled to Gstaad and Chateu D’oex in the German and French parts of Switzerland. I have now begun reading I Followed my Man to Lausanne: Moving to Switzerland which should be a more fitting book for what I was looking for, and what the course required. I will be sure to update one of my future travel logs with how this book fits the themes of the course.

 

qu301-walking-picture

This is one of the pictures from me and my group of friends (Communitas) taking our long hike up Mount Bre. And when it boils down to it hiking really is walking, which was the subject of this travel log. This picture was taken close to the top of the mountain (you can see the restaurant that sits at the top in the background) and if being comfortable with my surroundings can be considered the summit, then I would say this picture truly represents how I feel in my surroundings, almost there.

 

 

Works Cited

Bewes, Diccon. Swiss watching: Inside the Land of Milk and Money. London: Nicholas Brealey, 2012. Print.

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.

Malcolm, Moira M. I Followed My Man to Lausanne. 11 Jan. 2014. Print.

 

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