Tag Archives: high school

Jungfrau: Top of Europe

DSC_6513Today was quite the adventure, filled with diversity beyond belief. We woke up to a very German breakfast: an assortment of meats and cheeses. Naturally, I went for the least threatening yogurt. We decided to take the train in downtown Wilderswil to wherever it may lead, which was apparently the top of the mountains. We took 3 separate train connections to get to “Jungfrau: The Top of Europe”… as you can see they’ve really capitalized on their cog railways to the point that their slogan hangs around like a head cold that won’t go away.

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The trains reminded me of the T in Boston: electrically charged, but with the added bonus of gears that cranked the trains up the mountain. The views were spectacular: on one side, we could see green rolling hills, complete with wooden homes and waterfalls. On the other side, we scrambled to take photos of the snow-capped mountain that awaited our arrival. The scenes were picturesque, and the other families on the train must have thought so too, because we all seemed to be rushing to take the same photos: imitating the actions of those who seemed to catch on to a new angle first.

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Our arrival at Jungfrau was a tedious one. They stopped the train every so often to acclimate us to the new altitudes, but all I felt as the train made its steady climb was oxygen deprived, and subsequently, sleepy. When we got off the train at the top, the view was spectacular. But our journey inside the mountain only began there. We walked through extensive tunnels and caverns to new viewpoints, and to get outside onto the mountain. I, in my boat shoes, sweatshirt, and baseball cap, clearly came unprepared in comparison to the hikers who wore their wool. I only braved the freezing temperatures for a minute before I went back inside.

We then travelled back through the tunnels, and the nausea began to sink in. The altitudes made us light-headed, and the tunnel system was so still, it made our heartbeats feel boisterous. I couldn’t walk a straight line, and I felt completely DSC_6521 DSC_6520out of control of my body and mind, which had turned not only against me, but each other. Regardless, we had to press on for the one thing we had journeyed to see: The Ice Palace (Eispalast.) Inside the mountain, ice tunnels had been carved and preserved, which then led to an ice museum of intricate ice sculptures and doorways. It was unreal, and frigid. My claustrophobia only got worse, and as soon as we had seen all there was to see, we exited and set off to find Rachel, who had given up fairly quickly on the ice escapade.

With the claustrophobia and nausea only getting worse, we all set off down the mountain via railway, clamoring for space between the other tourists. It seemed our plans were just in the nick of time, as it started to rain. We hiked up the small village of Wilderswil, and relaxed in our (still quaint) hotel.

Later, we set our sights on the town of Interlaken (pronounced Interlocken), and ate at an Italian restaurant that came highly recommended, mainly because it was in close proximity to the Diskothek. The food was delicious, and as usual, took hours to enjoy. We then made our way to the Disko, which interestingly enough, must be Swiss for “divey bar.” The room was dark, and the walls and ceiling were plastered with years upon years of memorabilia. This includes, but is not limited to: bras, sunglasses, drumsticks, and neon signs. The Disko also doubled as a tattoo parlor. I’d say the only real pluses to a place such as this was the great rock n’ roll music (all classic American hits), and the bartender. He drew a couple of German lines from me, but it was hard for me to say anything more than my name and where I was traveling from, because he just before had remarked how he hates speaking German. Greeeatttt.

When we’d had enough, we gracefully made our exit, disappointed that a Disko wasn’t really a disco. We split our return journey home between a train and Taxi, and the evening came to a close.

***

I want to take a moment to share something deeply personal for a moment. On the day of my high school graduation, I cried to my boyfriend for hours about feeling like one of the “unimportant” people in the world. I had watched my classmates grow, and I felt like we had naturally divided ourselves into those who are “important” and going places, and those who are merely pawns, here to build up the self-esteem of those who are important. I had chased my dreams for all of high school: made great friends, travelled the world, and established myself in several leadership positions. But where did that leave me, and what did I have to show for it? I felt one chapter of my life closing, and I didn’t see the potential for a new one to be written. Retrospectively, this was a very VERY childish attitude to have. But in that moment on my couch, it felt very real. I’m not afraid of too much, but I was petrified of my amazing journey coming to an altogether halt. Something occurred to me tonight though as I wrote this post:

My experiences thus far have made me happy; I have pushed myself to know more about myself, harder than I know anyone around me to have pushed themselves. I have sought answers to unanswerable questions, and tried unceasingly to quench my thirst. I have travelled to run away, travelled to find myself, yet have found the most satisfying feelings in sitting perfectly still. I have actively made a difference in my own life, but also those around me. More importantly, I have allowed others to make differences in my life. I never stopped loving, or hoping for the best out of people or situations. I think that’s pretty rare. So, I am important. I’m important to some: my community, my family, my friends. But I’m also important to myself. I matter, and I make a difference. I don’t intend to stop traveling, writing or searching for answers. I couldn’t satiate those hungers if I tried. But my worth, validity, and “important-ness” are reflected in my actions. And I reap the benefits of that through my unmeasurable happiness. A fact I have to write down in order to remind myself!

Thank you always for listening to my rants of epic proportions! 😉

Guten Nacht!

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Step aside colleges, Let me take it from here, I got this

The newest fad in high school has abandoned the fascinatingly awkward interaction between boys and girls around prom time. It’s strayed from the convenience of holiday dances, and what we’ll do with our weekends. And, while these things still exist briefly in the hallway, those discussions are quickly overcome with the latest and greatest news of college acceptances. With social media hard at work, college news can’t be escaped. One can’t log on to Facebook without seeing “So-and-so got into {insert name of college here}!”, or onto Instagram to see an image of a college acceptance letter peppered with congratulations and enticing offers of scholarships and grant money. I, too, am guilty of this blossoming fad. But why are things so intense for our generation? Why do we find college so magnetic? We take entrance exams as juniors and seniors, and practice entrance exams as freshmen and sophomores. As a result, schools can access our emails and information so long as they pay their dues to the College Board.

Since I’ve been a sophomore, I’ve received maybe a thousand emails littering my Gmail inbox. All offer subject lines saying, “Amanda! Have you looked at our school yet?” “Are you looking to apply yet?” “It’s not too early to look for schools!” Each school made their case as to why THEIRS was the best, because naturally they’re all accredited as the best, laying claim to the brightest students in the nation. After I came to understand the gimmick, I can tell you not a single one of those emails was opened again. And over time, the subjects have changed their tune. “Amanda, do I have the right email?” “Amanda, are you ignoring me?” “Where have you been, Amanda?” Had the emails not come from NO-REPLY addresses, I would’ve responded something to the affect of: “Quit it! You’re smothering me, colleges!” Let’s not even get into the snail mail being sent to my mailbox.

How these college emails sound to me. With the creepy glare and smile that says “Why are you running so fast?” For those unfamiliar, this is the recently popularized “meme” of “The Crazy, Obsessive Girlfriend.”

The pressures rise, and the colleges don’t “quit it”, until their deadline approaches and passes, when the subject lines change from “It’s not too late to apply, Amanda” to “We’re sorry we missed you, Amanda.”

In the midst of the college craziness, my godmother took me into Boston for an interview of sorts at Boston University. We sat in the cafeteria of the campus drinking Starbucks coffee, working on our caffeine addictions, whilst asking why it is colleges felt the need to pursue teens in the style of the crazy-ex-girlfriend. And so, we devised a new system of selection, making it easy for students to distinguish which colleges actually care, and which are merely in hot pursuit of our money.

And here’s how it goes:

I sit myself at the head of a long table, as if the chair of a business meeting. Representatives from each school that fits my extremely-selective criteria line the sides of the table. From there, I’ll ask each representative exactly about their academics, travel abroad opportunities, and what exactly THEY do for their students. Essentially, “How will you change my life?” When so much of college is advertised online or en-masse at some generic campus tour as some well-dressed admissions counselor rattles off facts and statistics, putting a face to my future would be a nice change of pace. But then, the questions become progressively harder. “Why exactly do you want ME?” Because, if a school is truly intent on catching my attention, saying “Your achievements have caught our eye…” in the subject line just won’t cut it. College: How about (if you wanna get really kinky) you do YOUR homework. I’d like an explanation, using specific details from my résumé relating programs to my interests, delving into why that school is good enough for ME.

From there, the process will be flipped around. My selection will be entirely my own, compiling the answers by the reps and financial aid into one final, and glorious decision.

Now, this may seem conceited, as I ramble on about my ideal college selection experience. And you’ll have to excuse my writing style which reads this scenario as some elusive fantasy…whoops. On the other hand, shouldn’t our learning be personalized right from the start? Not only will we be taking on mounds of debt for an exceptional degree from exceptional universities, but we’ll be dedicating anywhere between four to six years of our prime to call ourselves alumns of one establishment. Hm. Is it too much to ask for even a personalized letter, to ensure we won’t fall into “die grauen Mass” when we go away to school?

For an alternative outlook on four years of undergraduate studies, watch this. You may regret it, but then again you may not. The choice is yours…