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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Books

Book Review: Pachyderme by Frederik Peeters

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The maroon binding of Pachyderme has called to me from many a Graphic Novel section shelf. After years of picking it up, flipping through it and thinking, “another time,” I finally got around to reading a copy from the San Francisco Public Library.

I knew this graphic novel by Swiss cartoonist Frederik Peeters was not going to be a casual read. The woman suspended in air on the front cover portends the ominous suspended reality this book explores. There is a foreword written by the accomplished French cartoonist Jean Giraud (AKA Moebius 1938 – 2012) that says everything anyone could ever hope to say about the quality of Peeters’ story and illustrations.

Giraud writes, “Pachyderme is the perfect example of a vivid and poetic graphic novel that succeeds in conveying a sense of the unconscious, of true master. I have the feeling Pachyderme remains mysterious even to its author, who let his tale wander where his pen took it, live its own life, while paying close attention to storytelling and the quality of his art.”

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Much like the space between waking and dreaming, the story and art range from hyper realistic to completely nonsensical. Giraud uses the word, “oneric,” or dreamlike to describe this oscillation. This is a new word for me and I am excited to have it as a part of my vocabulary now!

The only problem with Giraud’s foreword is that it gives too much of the story away. So I suggest reading it after you have finished the book. I don’t want to review the plot or characters in detail because this book is best experienced firsthand and without any foreknowledge.

All you need to know is that the story is set in French speaking Switzerland in 1951 and that a woman is the central character.

Here are some of my favorite panels:

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Save Pachyderme for a quiet day to yourself.

 

 

 

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