Traveling in Switzerland

Greetings from Switzerland!  It has been more than 14 days since I have been in Europe, and everything is so dreamy that I am afraid I will wake up any minute in my bed in Westwood.  I am traveling with UCLA’s Travel Study program with the Urban Planning department on global governance, and it is an extremely rewarding, hybrid program of academics and fun.

In the past two weeks, I have probably seen more landmarks and important places than I ever have in my life in such a short period of time.  We have visited a number of international institutions based in Geneva including the United Nations (whose cluster of buildings here is gracefully named “Palais des Nations”), World Health Organization, World Trade Organization, UNDP, UNEP, and the Iraq and United States Missions.  Each weekday has seen a block of classes at the University of Geneva campus in the morning, followed by a visit to an institution in the afternoon.  The number of business formal and business casual outfits in my hamper at the end of the week is testimony to the frequency of our visits.

Since the beginning of the month, I have been so grateful to be a part of this program.  It is now in its fourth year, but according to our professor and fearless leader Dr. Leo Estrada (Luskin School of Public Affairs at UCLA), making this trip possible has not always been easy.  I am incredulous that a program as rich as this can run into any obstacles at all in the university’s approval process, but am glad to say that four years later, it is in full swing.

In addition to traveling all over Geneva and integrating ourselves into genevois life, this weekend we are also taking an excursion to the Swiss Alps to visit Jungfraujoch, the highest point in Europe, and a research center folded into the snowy peaks of this majestic mountain belt.  In fact, I write this from a quaint little ski lodge in downtown Gindelwald, a small alpine town surrounded on all sides by magnificent summits.  Tomorrow, we will go higher than 10,000 feet to Jungfraujoch.  Regardless of the thinner oxygen at such a high altitude, I’m sure my breath will be taken away.