05 January, 2011

I'm not who I think I am

It appears that the title of "Non-traditional student", typically used in the U.S. to designate an older than average student, does not exist in Switzerland, or at least not in Geneva.

Every time I've inquired about student discounts, so far, I've been met with the same response:
"Madame, a student is a person under 25 years of age."
It does not matter that I have my university ID and an International student ID card.
I am 11 years over the cut-off. Thus, I am not a student.
Not sure what that makes me as an unemployed, unpaid intern, trying to finish the last credits for her master's degree, but I am not a student.
Perhaps I am some sort of eccentric who not only likes working for free, but pays someone else for the pleasure to do so.

A few times I've been met with a bit of a tone. The guy who sold me my ticket to the symphony even cocked his head to the side just a notch in disbelief and sort of stared me down for a beat.

I must say my new favorite person is town is the woman at the ticket counter for the neighborhood pool, right behind our apartment building. She not only gave me a student price on my pool pass, she threw me the local price. I was nearly moved to reach through the window and hug her.

Dear Geneve

No disrespect, Geneva, but I don't find the Jet d'Eau to be all that. Of course, walking past, I've seen many people who would obviously disagree snapping photos like mad. It does remind me of a great sprinkler toy I had as a wee kid. However, you can't play in the Jet, or at least I haven't figured out how (w/o injury, arrest or - right now - freezing). It also reminds me of Letterman's old "prancing fluids" gag. Surely you've better things to brag on. I mean, Raclette, maybe? "The other melted cheese!" Watches that cost as much as some automobiles aren't much to brag about in this economic climate without sounding a bit gauche and out of touch. And Calvin...well, while really fascinating, he wasn't exactly a party with his Five Points, was he? You're a perfectly nifty city, so far, so I suspect it won't be too hard to come up with something.

Also, never, ever, do away with the marché aux puces at Plainpalais. Ever. It's reassuring and heartwarming that a market exists where I can, should I chose to, purchase a Pinhead doll, old movie cameras, broken watches by the truckload, a French press, kilm rugs, Andean woolly hats, not-so-gently used shoes, and random doll body parts...all in one place. Fabulous. I have my eye on a few items already. No, not Pinhead.

Finally, for now, might I remind you that your country is supposedly one where people consider themselves happiest in all the world. They don't often look it. What gives? Just asking.
Will write more soon.
Avoir. Merci.

02 January, 2011

Dateline: Thonex

Arrived to Thonex and am settling into my little monk's cell of a room. Actually, it should work just fine. The flat owner's been very helpful. Even took a bit of pity on my with all the shops closed for the holiday weekend and cooked a small meal for me. The other renter, a very nice WTO intern from China, leaves tomorrow, so not much to report there.

It's a pretty quiet part of town, save for the bank robbery not long ago. According to Nico they seem to have a robbery about every five years, which led to jokes about Swiss promptness. Even better, the robbery occurred across the street from the police station, though he couldn't tell me if that meant the robbers were bold, stupid or the police just incompetent.

I went to France for the first time in my life today. This is not a huge feat since France is about 100m up the street. You just hit the street and keep walking. The fact that if I wander off in pretty much any direction I'll be in another country is a bit odd to a kid from S. Florida, where there nearest state was about a ten hour drive away. Crossing the border was a bit anticlimactic with nobody around to check your papers, hassle you or hold you for 14 hours. Or bring you endless cups of coffee. Oh, how I miss my long conversations over coffee with the border guards at Bab al-Hawa, though.

I wandered into a small cemetery; the dead often make far better company than the living. Most of the graves were family plots, but there was a large memorial to four martyrs of the WWII resistance and a single grave for a group of refugees lost in WWI. Very moving to see a man's grave festooned with dedications of love from his family beside inscriptions such as "Rosette de la Resistance...Un Exemple!"

Unfortunately, this being a holiday weekend, walking around for a while instead of heading straight for the grocery stores proved a poor choice and everything was shut by the time I headed home. Managed to scrounge a packet of soup, a loaf of bread, some Kiri & a tomato at the one shop open around here. Tomorrow, I'll head back into France for a real grocery run and to hit up the halal markets. There's been some discussion as to whether shopping in France versus Geneva remains a bargain, but I'm willing to give it a go.

Set to start at UNHCR on Friday, mostly to get some formalities & paperwork out of the way. So this week is all about getting rolling and trying to start carving a routine.
And then figuring out how to hike to the top of Saleve, which was half shrouded in clouds today so that you could barely see the tram cables. The trees just below the clouds were coated in snow, so it should make for an excellent full-day hike. This town may be pricey, but walking's still free.