The school week after my last update was pretty special. Each year, many schools around Switzerland do what's called Project Week. Basically, the students in the schools who do this get split into groups (the number of groups vary based on how many projects there are, which varies with each different school). Groups have their own different project that they carry out throughout the week, most of which involve some sort of community service thing. I got assigned to a group with a very interesting project: we got to hang out the entire week with refugees who are staying in Appenzell. These refugees were from a range of countries, many of which were African or Middle Eastern. It was an amazing time playing games such as soccer and frisbee, and doing different activities such as learning songs in other languages and exploring Appenzell. It was great to make more friends from around the globe!
Lunch during a hiking trip we took during the week.
Going down a really fun bobsled type ride with a friend from my class.
The weekend after Project week one of the other exchange students here came and stayed with in Appenzell with my host family for the weekend. Her name is Cassie and she's from Canada. On Saturday we explored the nearby city of St. Gallen, and then we went into Appenzell on Sunday. It was also was the first time either of us had Swiss fondue, which my host mom made on Saturday evening. Swiss fondue has definitely been one of my favorite swiss meals that I've had here.
In Appenzell with Cassie the weekend after Project Week.
The two weeks following Project Week we had off school, so there were plenty of interesting things that happened:
The Tuesday of the first week was very.... well... interesting. The first Tuesday of October, Appenzell has what's called a cow parade. The just of it is that the farmers walk their cows from their farms in the hills into town. They wear very traditional Appenzeller Swiss outfits and the cows have the huge Swiss bells. In town they have what's basically a cow beauty contest, and then they are walked back up to their farms in the evening. My host dad's brother owns a farm and he brings his cows down to this every year, but this year my dad couldn't help because he had to work, so since one more person was needed, I got to help walk the cows.
On the way there it was pretty fun. You have a wooden stick which helps you control the cows by corralling them and wapping them if you need to. Once there we got to eat lunch in a restaurant and hang out for a while. The way back is where it became substantially less pleasant. As we left, it began to pour rain. So I'm behind a group of cows in the pouring rain when the dumb things decide right then and there to... relieve themselves. I just so happened to be in the unlucky position where much of the cow crap got on my pants. After an hour or so of this we finally reach our destination and can dry off and go home. Overall, I'm very glad that I was able to do it because I felt like I was part of a big Swiss tradition.
Arriving at our destination
The next interesting event was the follow Friday. There is an annual expo/festival in St. Gallen called OLMA. It usually starts the first Friday of October and lasts for 10 days. There's a massive area where they have pig races and contests for animals and different events. I went with two other exchange students that first Friday to OLMA. We didn't go in the main area itself since you had to pay just to get in, but we went to the carnival-like area surrounding it.
Part of the carnival around the main OLMA center.
On one of the rides with a friend from Australia.
The following Sunday was a pretty big highlight of the vacation. I left on Sunday with my host parents and host sister towards the rest of Switzerland. We stopped in Luzern and saw the city, which was really cool, although it was very touristy. From there we drove to an area where you can see an amazing range of mountains where we had dinner, and then we went to the hotel where we stayed which was next to Lake Luzern.
The iconic bridge in Luzern.
This mountain is called Jungefrau.
The next day, we left for a town called Oberdiessbach where we found distant relatives who live there and own a hatchery and a mechanic shop. I saw the farm where my great-great-great-grandfather lived and also got to see the surrounding area, which was really amazing. We had lunch with one of my great-grandfather's cousins as well as his son, who owns the mechanic shop.
While visiting the area, we climbed this tower where you could see over the forrest and spot a mountain range in the distance.
In the tower there were these signs with the exact distance from that point to major cities around the world.
The farm where my great-great-great grandfather lived.
The relatives we met in Oberdiessbach.
The second week was a little more laid back after the trip to the west. Last Tuesday I was in Zurich with another exchange student, and I made two more trips back to OLMA, once with exchange students and once with friends from school.
Playing a giant chess game in Zurich with my friend Madison from Arizona.
At OLMA with my friend Miguel from the Philipeans.
As for upcoming plans, I don't know of much. I plan on doing a second german class like the one that I had the first two weeks I was here. When that starts I'll be in Zurich twice a week with other exchange students who are doing it. I'm not quite sure when that begins, but I'd guess within the month.
As always, if there are any questions, please feel free to ask by leaving a comment or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.