A fifteen minute train ride can take you so many places in Europe! Our University hosted a welcome event for us in Lugano, the main city on Lake Lugano. The event was held at Lido di Lugano or the Shore of Lugano, a small public beach (with paid entry) on the lake! Lugano is more of a city whereas Mendrisio is a small town. The city can be quite steep in some places and flat in others, it's definitely not a place I would recommend going if you don't want to deal with busses or you don't mind hiking to shops and restaurants, nevertheless it's beautiful and if you don't mind doing one of those two things you'll see so much of the culture in Ticino (the Italian speaking canton of Switzerland!)! We also were able to hear a speech by one of the University officials and he explained why it's so important for us to work hard in our Italian courses. I had no idea USI is the last and only Italian speaking university in Switzerland! The school hosts many international students who speak English, but Italian is the mother tongue of the locals— learning Italian is an effort to connect with the local community even though it is not needed to communicate with our peers. It's an effort to preserve the language and traditions of Ticino.
After the speech we were taken to Lido di Lugano and were able to swim in the lake as well as the pool! First of all, pools in Switzerland are nicer than any spa I've ever seen on TV. Second, the lake wasn't too cold but the bottom was filled with rocks so it was difficult to walk, BUT the views of the mountains were a nice distraction!
They have slush puppies here!!!!! I haven't seen a slush puppy since going to Shop-Ez on the lake when I was little! I was definitely a major throwback and we all enjoyed them!
Some of friends, Beatriz who is from Portugal on the left and Lisa from the Netherlands! I think the opportunity to meet people from all over the world who are interested in the same things as me is reason enough alone to come here, but seriously, we get to do some many things together like go to the beach and bond over slush puppies!
Ticino is so much more tropical than I imagined! There are palm trees and cactuses everywhere!
Okay I'm going to do my best to show thing, but you'll have to zoom! Look at this massive mountain right at the beach, now look at the next photo and zoom in about half way down on the far left, do you see the train?! That's how massive this mountain is! It's so steep! I didn't even know trains could go that steep!
Back at it with the coffee, seriously there is coffee everywhere. I had a macchiato on the beach and it was divine.
When it started to get cooler in the evening we were invited for some heavy appetizers. By that time everyone was starving and as soon as food was starting to be put on the table people started gathering around like hocks waiting for the servers to say we could start! It was actually really funny to see! (No pressure, just one hundred starving college students inching closer and closer!)
I've started to realize I think I was meant to be Italian, I love every dish we have here and already make most of them when I'm at home— all hail the cheese and prosciutto plate!
The ONE thing I think I could do without is all of the bees here! The US may have a bee problem, but Switzerland certainly doesn't! We were terrorized by seven or so bees the entire time we were trying to eat! Finally someone put this one under a cup while we finished. No joke, this guy would land on my plate every time I reached for anything!!! He may or may not have caused me to jump out of my chair and jump off the deck and onto to beach behind me! Lol! People here certainly know my fear of bees already.