Way back in January, before I even left the States for Israel, sitting at my desk at 60 Minutes, I got an offer I simply couldn’t turn down: travel to Geneva, Switzerland for five days in April to be a part of a team from the Imagining the Internet organization at Elon, with three faculty members and several of my peers. Our task? To document the 20th anniversary conference of the Internet Society known as Global INET.
So went I did, from the top of Mt. Carmel (armed with a prescription of amoxicillin to battle the strep I’d just been diagnosed with), down to the train station at the beach, on the train to the airport in Tel Aviv, then through a lengthy security procedure, aboard a very pleasant flight to Zurich, then a quick “puddle jumper” flight to Geneva. It was not the most pleasant experience, but I blame that entirely on the bacteria eating up the back of my throat and the fever (sorry, fellow travelers, I was definitely still contagious!) I stayed the night in a hotel by the airport and met up with the Elon team the next morning. This was our beautiful hotel:
Pause here for me to mention that this was my first time a. Traveling by myself in foreign countries for more than a bus ride and b. On a flight for more than 40 minutes by myself. I also had no cell phone and no idea how international travel or public transportation in Switzerland works so all in all, I was very proud of myself.
Geneva and Switzerland in general, are beautiful. It was green and classy and so clean! It rained pretty much the entire time we were there, but since I live in the desert, I didn’t mind one bit. It was also my first time in continental Europe and boy, did I get bit by the travel bug. It really made me think how my experience abroad would have been different if I hadn’t selected a program in oh, you know, the Middle East. It was also a nice mini-dose of the re-acclimation culture shock I have to look forward to in June.
The conference itself was extremely interesting. If you’ve got some time to kill, you can see all my team did here. This was the group I was with:
I was so happy to get a taste of Elon, particularly because the homesick bug had really bit me in the butt the days right before. These are people who know my whole world at Elon, and they were kind enough to fill me in on every piece of news and gossip they could recall.
Also, this cheeseburger lover got to escape Kosherland for a bit and eat sandwiches with meat and cheese, including a classic McDonalds McDouble. Add that to the Magnum Blizzard (get on that, America), and I was a happy camper. The strep throat cleared up, I got to talk to good friends from home, the conference was interesting and I felt so productive and accomplished and I got to go to a new and awesome place. AKA, it rocked and was absolutely an experience I will never ever forget.
I flew back to Tel Aviv via Zurich early on a Wednesday morning, and met up with friends at a hostel where we spent the next few days. But more on that in a later post. Tonight, when I’m procrastinating from doing homework, I’ll do a mini-post about homesickness abroad and how I would recommend handling it. But for now, au revoir (as they say in Switzerland, unless of course they’re speaking German or Italian).