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Monday, September 28, 2015

Hiking, City Exploration, and Food

The past two weeks have been fairly boring as far as super special events or trips go.  It's basically been me getting into the groove of school and making some friends.  The most noteable things that have happened have been the past two weekends.  Last Saturday and Sunday I was in the town of Alt (old) St. Johan with Rotex.  Just two days ago (Saturday, September 26th) I went down to St. Gallen for a small Rotary meeting with my German camp group.  Basically, to try and keep the post interesting, I'll talk about what happened these two weekends, and then also talk about some things that I've been asked about or told I should mention.  Also, sorry to those who try to keep up with my blog posts.  I imagine it's hard when the amount and times of posts are so unreliable, but there is something addressing that at the end of the post.

So for those who aren't familiar with Rotex, they are students from Switzerland who have been on exchange in the past few years and, now that they are back, organize trips and weekend activities for the inbound exchange students.   A lot of Rotary districts around the world have Rotex groups, including my district, which I plan to join when I return and become a rebound.  Last weekend was their first inbound event for the exchange students on the east side of Switzerland.

I left from Appenzell by train on Saturday to meet up with some other exchange students, then together we went all the way to New St. Johan where the rest of the group and Rotex was waiting.  We when by bus higher into this valley area until we reached Old St. Johan.  We took our belongings up to the dorm building where we would be staying and doing some of our activities, and then set out walking through the town, and then trekking through the hills.  Everybody from my German camp was there, but there were also many, many other exchange students who I hadn't met and got to know better.  When we got back to the dorm, we at dinner and then got split into groups for different competitions.  I got nominated to represent our group in Limbo, which I actually won!  Afterwards we got to hang out for a few hours.  I played different matchups of foosball most of this time, which was really fun.  I played with a Swiss guy who had stayed in the United States on exchange and had definitely picked up on our American patriotism.  We took on Canadians, Philippines, Australians, and plenty of others.  It was super fun, and we won... well, I'll just say we didn't lose all of the games and leave it there.

The next day we packed up our things, and then went hiking out to a waterfall in another part of the valley.  After seeing that and walking back through the town, we got our things and took the bus back to the train station in New St. Johan where we did one last activity with Rotex.  After we finished we all started to say goodbye and most people got their trains back home.  I stayed in St. Johan for about an hour with some of the Australians since most of them took the train back to St Gallen with me.

The American inbounds and the Rotex who had been to the United States on exchange!

When hiking into the hills on Saturday, we saw a house waving an American flag, which us Americans thought was pretty awesome.

The waterfall on Sunday.

Walking back into Old St. Johan.  It was a bit rainy, but still really nice!

This past weekend I was in St. Gallen with my language camp group for a Rotary meeting.  The meeting itself was pretty standard; they walked us through the travel rules in some detail and then split us into smaller groups and asked us different stuff like if we had been to visit our Rotary clubs yet, and how we were doing in our families.  Afterwards, most of our group decided to stay in St. Gallen and hang out for a bit.  We went up a hill overlooking the city and hung out there for a little bit before heading back down into the city.  After a little bit a lot of people left either going home, or going to hang out in Zurich.  The ones of us who decided to stay went and visited a huge church towards the middle of the city.  Now, I have seen quite a few large churches in the United States, on my Guatemala trips, and here in Switzerland, but this church was easily the most glamorous that I have ever seen.  It was very breathtaking.  We stayed around the church a bit before some of the others had to catch trains home and there were only four of us left.  We went and explored a plaza near the church before finding a place to eat and just talking for about an hour, and then catching our trains home.  

Hanging out on the hill overlooking St. Gallen

Some friends from German camp: Nikki on the left from Canada, and Saki on the right from Japan.

Walking through the streets of St. Gallen

The Church we visited.

I don't think that the pictures I took do justice to what we saw inside the church.  It was stunning.

One thing that I have been told I should talk about is the the food that I've been eating here.  There have been a variety of things I've had here, some of which I never knew existed.  There are the things I expected like Bratwurst, cheese, and the knock-your-socks-off-insanely-amazing Swiss chocolate, but there have also been things that were pretty interesting, such as a dish I had which was some sort of meat (if I had to guess I would say chicken, but I'm not sure) that had cheese and ham on the inside of it.  Another thing that is pretty big here is fondue, but that actually isn't something I've had yet, although I'm 100% sure I will while I'm here.  Yes, they have McDonalds here, and no, it's not super different, although they have potato wedges, shrimp, and you can buy flavor packets for your fries.  The last thing I want to say, is that, while they do have chips here, you a pretty much limited to two flavors: regular potato chip, and Paprika chips.  Now, when I first saw Paprika chips, I was somewhat of a skeptic, especially since this isn't something I've ever seen or heard of before in the United States.  They are amazing.  There's not much  I can say about how they taste other than that it's amazing and you should order a bag online to try for yourself.

Finally, I know there have been all sorts of people who have visited this blog, and some of them happen to be my old/current teachers.  To you: I would absolutely love it if you were to show some of the posts on this blog to your classes, and encourage them to send me an email asking any questions they have about the country, or being an exchange student themselves.  I know in some of your cases, this would even apply to your class!

It has also been suggested that I start a Facebook page, that way I can post pictures there, people can ask questions, and you could also be notified when there is a blog post.  If this is something you think would be helpful for you, please let me know by leaving a comment.  If I do start a page, I'll put the information on the blog.

If there are any questions about Switzerland or what I'm doing here, please feel free to leave a comment or send an email to me at and I'll be sure to answer!

Bis Bald,


  1. Enjoying your posts. Facebook would be fun also. It has been great to keep up with your adventures.

  2. Thoroughly enjoy your posts, E! A Facebook page would be a plus. I just keep thinking what an amazing adventure this is for you. And HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Who would ever have thought that you'd spend your seventeenth birthday in Switzerland?!! We love you!