Above, two pictures of our Youth Hostel!
Finally, we learned about our learning structure! SIT is very secretive before arrival at the destination, with regards to where classes will be held, who will be teaching them, and generally the skeleton of the program. Today we learning that we will be departing for Brussels on September 23rd and then leaving for Paris on September 26th until the 28th. Students have the option of coordinating travel plans with other group members to stay in Paris until the 30th and I’ve pretty much decided who I’d like to stay with! All we have left to do is choose a hotel to stay at and buy train tickets back. So exciting! Thus concluded our final orientation session!
From the SIT Office, our group headed over to Manor, a huge six-level mall on whose top floor is a buffet with wonderful food. They even have lemonade, slushies and other American food! With consumption of this food, we were all prepared to go take our French placement exam!! No, not really. Our group met at Gare Cornavin and we took the tram to a huge mall in Meyrin-Gravières, on the top floor of which are headquartered several businesses, including our Ecole-Club. The mall is so huge!!!! I will be taking photos and posting them on Facebook soon. One of the French teachers led our group into a room, where she separated all of the students into complete French non-speakers and those who have some French experience. Those who had experience were led into computer rooms in which we took a 30-minute kick-ass exam. It was so difficult… Apparently it was designed to make even fluent French speakers doubt their abilities. Upon completion, students were led two-by-two into rooms where there were two French teachers and one of our Academic Directors seated next to them. We were directed to speak to each other in French on subjects of no particular value, to test our oral comprehension. During the course of the conversation, Professor Lambert asked me where I am from. I told him I am American, but he wasn’t satisfied. He said, yes, but you have a different accent when you speak French. I told him I speak Russian and he said to me, “Ты говоришь по-русский?” in almost flawless Russian! I was impressed. I told him I did and he laughed telling me that I have a Russian accent when I speak French. Mind you, he did not forget to mention that he was refreshed by this change in scenery, so to speak. 🙂 Our placement exam ended, and now we are forced to wait until Monday to discover our scores…
I was so tired that I stayed in the hostel the whole night. What is funny, is that I was in the lobby at 23:30 Skyping with Mama jan when groups of people from my group stumbled in to the hostel. I heard so many entertaining stories! Best of all, though, I got the chance to talk to the man who worked at the front desk and I learned so many intriguing facts about him. He is half Greek, half Albanian, grew up in Greece, went to school in France and just finished graduate studies in political science at the University of Geneva. He speaks English, French, Spanish, Greek, Portuguese, Italian and two other languages which I forget! I asked him if he speaks German but he told me that it is one of the hardest languages for him to grasp even though it is related to English. I stayed up until 4:30 in the morning just chatting with people who floated into the lobby, returning from adventures in bars, clubs and swimming by the lake. Thankfully, I was able to wake up in the morning for our departure!!!
There are absolutely no plastic bags in grocery stores! One is obliged to buy a recycled shopping bag if they wish to avoid carrying items without feeling embarrassed on the streets.
The Swiss are a quiet people. If you get on the tram, train or bus and you are loud, everyone stares at you in an attempt to make you shut up. Even when the Swiss are in groups, they whisper to each other, so that others are not disturbed by their conversation.