Recently I coordinated a four-day trip to visit one of my dearest friends, Morgan in Suiza. Morgan and I met in 2011 on Rose Court and have been very close ever since. We even traveled to Paris together in the summer of 2013. She is now in her second year of a four-year program at Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL), a renowned international hotel management program in Lausanne, Switzerland. The last time we saw each other was more than one year ago so when we found out I’d be in Europe this semester, seeing each other was a must.
I landed in Geneva and took the train to Lausanne. It was my first time traveling alone this semester and not speaking a lick of French, I was a tad nervous about navigating. From the Lausanne train station I cabbed to EHL. I told the cabbie the name of the school and showed him the address and then we proceeded to go through an odd exchange of him asking “Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne?” “Oui,” I responded. “Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne?” “Oui!” This went on about three times. Confused and unsure if I was headed to the right place, I crossed my fingers and anxiously awaited my reunion with Momo.
My phone didn’t work in Switzerland so I had no easy way to contact Morgan, though I did use Wi-Fi at the train station to let her know when I was hopped in the cab and just hoped for the best. I had a hunch that finding her wouldn’t be an issue despite being phone-less since sometimes we have the kind of telepathy twins have. I was right. Just as I was getting my luggage out of the trunk, she was walking out of the school doors to greet me. We then squealed and hugged in the sweetest reunion Switzerland has ever seen.
Morgan was actually in class when I arrived, so I tiptoed behind her to the back of the classroom and joined her till class ended. While she learned advanced Excel functions, I worked on my own political science paper. When class let out, she showed me around her incredible school. It’s a very international place and she’s one of only a handful of Americans. All students have to wear formal business attire every day! We took advantage of the gourmet options EHL offers and dined on a waffle, Oreo milkshake and a welcome glass of wine. Morgan introduced me to her friends, classmates and her boyfriend, Georg.
We then went to her charming apartment where I met her roommates. That evening we made pasta for dinner and spent the rest of the night giggling, cuddling and catching up. But of course it was not ordinary pasta, Morgan roasted some peppers and garlic and sprinkled freshly grated Parmesan atop the noodles. Something she “just whipped up…”. Lucky me!
Morgan’s plans for Day Two included a culinary tour of Lausanne. We had a gourmet lunch at her school’s fine dining restaurant, BDS. It consisted of several courses of incredibly tiny portions, but was still so filling. I don’t know if I’ve ever dined in such a posh environment. Perhaps the Swiss are psychic because when we headed to the exit, two staffers were waiting with our coats ready to help bundle us up. How they knew we were ready to leave and how they knew those were our coats, I’ll never know.
From BDS we headed to downtown Lausanne where we walked arm in arm through the city. It’s quaint and cobblestoned and felt French to me. We did some window-shopping and she showed me some of the famous sights. Strolling through the town together reminded me of when we were in Paris.
That evening we joined Morgan’s roommate, Sophie, her visiting boyfriend Chris, Georg and some of their friends from school for a delicious dinner of tapas. The restaurant, Eat Me, was opened by an EHL alum. Look at that…I leave Spain and still find tapas! After dinner we walked around and admired the city at night.
For our third day, we made tentative plans to go to Geneva, but the $54 round-trip train ticket was far less appealing when it was pouring rain. (Switzerland is not cheap. Two chicken breasts at the grocery store cost around 19 CHF or $19!) Morgan, who interned in Geneva the semester before, said much of Geneva is closed on the weekends so while we could have walked around, there would not have been a ton to do and it would have been quite wet.
Heading into this trip, I knew it would be different. I was not going in with the intention of seeing every sight, going to every monument or exploring every museum. I was going to see one of my best friends and experience her life there. So instead of going to Geneva, we had a restful day in her apartment, watched the rain fall and enjoyed each other’s company. Being with each other made us each almost forget that we were thousands of miles from our homes and families. Being with each other made us feel like we were home.
By the end of my stay I learned how being in apartment with students interested in high-quality hospitality has its perks. If the “thrown together” roasted pepper pasta was any indication, I should have known how our homemade burgers for dinner would turn out. Did you know you have to add eggs and breadcrumbs to ground beef to prepare the patties? I didn’t! I worked as a sous chef in the kitchen to help make seasoned patties, toasted buns, carmelized onions, bacon, guacamole and French fries. Wow!
The next morning was marked by a farewell breakfast and then Georg and Morgan took me to the train station. It was sad to leave Momo, but was happy with all the time we spent together. I’m so proud of her for following her dreams in such a major way. It was great to catch up and experience her life in Switzerland. Thankfully she’ll be back in LA this summer and we can spend even more time together!