Travel

My First Days at Franklin University Switzerland

When people learn that I went to school in Switzerland, I can’t help but feel a bit snobbish. Perhaps this is because Switzerland connotes fine watches, extravagant ski trips and indulgent chocolate for most. But that’s not why I chose to attend Franklin University Switzerland (then Franklin College Switzerland).

I wanted to travel more than anything, and this American school in the heart of Europe makes experiential learning a part of its curriculum with academic travel. Taking the study abroad experience to the next level, every semester, students participate in a class studying site specific topics culminating in a two-week travel led by their professor.

I was lucky enough to attend Franklin for all four years. That means I participated in eight academic travels!

After reading my friend Kate’s reflection on her time at Franklin, I thought I would share some of my first photographs and impressions of Switzerland and more specifically, Lugano, where the school is located — near the Italian border.

The bus ride from the airport was a blur.

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Lake Lugano and some rowers for scale.

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One of the “regal thieves” Kate mentioned in her blog post: purportedly imported along with palm trees to lend the Paradiso municipality an exotic feel.

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An elderly Swiss man wearing sensible shoes resting on one of the iconic red benches that line the lake.

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During orientation week, student leaders were tasked with keeping all new students awake to prevent debilitating jet lag from setting in. We were required to sign up for various activities and I opted for a walk to nearby Gandria, a quaint quarter of Lugano.

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The view of Lake Lugano from the dock in Gandria.

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Illuminati? In Switzerland, you better believe it.

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Ticino (Ti-chee-no) is the name of the canton, or region, Lugano belongs to.

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Ticino is heavily influenced by bordering Italy. Italian is the primary language spoken there.

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I was enchanted right away. Switzerland is so beautiful it was hard to believe I wasn’t dreaming, and to this day, I’m not entirely sure I was ever there.

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Arts & Culture

I Locked Myself in a Cinema All Night

At noon on Sunday, March 13, a crowd of bleary-eyed locals poured out of the Del Mar theatre into downtown Santa Cruz. This group wasn’t merely under the influence of marijuana — although, that can’t be ruled out — it had been inside the theatre since midnight the night before.

Not only did we pay $25 to forgo sleep and watch six movies in a row, we did so without knowing any of the movies’ titles.

“Why?” you may ask. For the glory.

An hour before the Santa Cruz Secret Film festival was set to begin at midnight, the power went out. Thanks to El Niño, the Del Mar theatre and the downtown block it inhabits had gone dark.

Nonetheless, dedicated film nerds formed a line to get into the theatre. One block over, closed businesses sparkled ostentatiously with garish lights. Chilly without a jacket, damp from the rain and tired after my road trip to Death Valley, I was less than ecstatic about the prospect of a 12 hour movie marathon. So I was a little miffed when the power went back on. I’m no humbug though, I joined in the collective cheers.

For years I have wanted to check the Secret Film Festival off my Santa Cruz to-do list, but it had never seemed feasible until this year. Is there ever really an ideal time to pull an all nighter though?

I am not exaggerating when I say sleep is my number one priority. Even so, I was able to make it through all of the movies, taking a brief, purposeful nap during a film I did not care to watch (Tales of Tales). Unfortunately, it was still going when I woke up. Those who stayed up through it said it was not unlike a dream in that you had no idea what was happening and in the end it didn’t matter.

Luckily, most of what I saw was really great and inspired me to write this post! Here are my reviews organized under the following headers: “Must See,” “Probably Want to See,” and “Must Miss.”

Must See

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

If you have ever wished Rambo was a comedy…

Therapy for a Vampire

If you hate Stephenie Meyer but love Freud…

Probably Want to See

Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made

If you grew up watching Spielberg and tried making movies of your own as a kid…

Operation Avalanche

If you want to see how Canadian film students think the 1969 moon landing was faked…

Confetti of the Mind

If you like the following short film, and want to see more by Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo…

Must Miss

Tales of Tales

Unless you’re a Dungeon Master, like my friend Steven…


I offer these hard won insights so that you may use your time more wisely, perhaps, than I did. I still maintain, it was worth it for the glory!

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