Studying abroad, wherever you go, introduces you to a variety of different experiences. One thing I have learned while living in Switzerland and traveling around continental Europe is, when given the opportunity, you should always go to the top.
Let me explain: Lausanne, where I now call my home, has a wonderful cathedral formally known as The Cathedral of Notre Dame of Lausanne. When I first arrived, the other exchange students and I were given the opportunity to climb the many steps to the first balcony, and then all the way to the top of the cathedral. At first, I rolled my eyes; what could be so special about going to the top? All I would see was Lausanne, which was great, but kind of ordinary.
I was completely wrong and blown away by the view of the lake, the city center and the surrounding neighborhoods. Every preconceived notion — fueled by my laziness and lack of desire to hike up the cramped steps — quickly dissolved as I took in the beautiful scene. For the rest of the night, all we could talk about was how picturesque the city was.
Knowing I did not regret going to the top of the Lausanne Cathedral, I knew when I later visited the Grossmünster in Zürich and St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, I had to go to the very top, dragging my travel partners along with me.
The ‘huff and puff’ is a universal language, as well. There’s a moment when you’re almost to the top of the building or church, where you make eye contact with a complete stranger and you both nod in agreement like, “Yes, I know, my legs are tired too, but the view is going to be so great,” and you keep climbing. And I promise you, the sigh of relief and awe you have once you get to the top is so refreshing and delicious.
Before you ascend to the top, you might find yourself saying, “It’s just a view of the [insert city]. I can see this on a postcard.” But it is so worth it. With the wind in your hair (and maybe your hair in your mouth…or does that just happen to me?), you get to take in all of the city at once. It’s peaceful, it’s gorgeous and most of the time it’s not expensive. I have never regretted it, and cannot express how great the view is once you get to the top.
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