Thursday, September 27, 2007

September 24-27

The past couple days have been rather difficult. I've been kind of lonely and felt a little isolated because of my living arrangements. When I was new at Iowa State, I was lucky enough to be living in close proximity to a group of wonderful people. Now, that I'm not living with other students, it's been rather more difficult to meet people.
I'm not an extremely energetic or extroverted person, so sometimes it's difficult for me to initiate conversation with people I don't know, especially my peers. I have a somewhat easier time with people 20 or more years older than me. For anyone over 80, it's a piece of cake.
It was difficult at first to meet and make friends with the people in my classes for two reasons. First of all, my French vocabulary kind of keeps conversation down on a very elementary, and rather uninteresting level. The second reason is because each class only occurs one time, and the Swiss students have a very prescribed program of study. This means that everyone in one major will have all the same classes with other students in their major who started the same year. In short, they all know eachother rather well. It's difficult to be an outsider coming into that.
After the first week here, I was worried that the only way I was going to be able to meet people was by going to clubs and soirées, as both are a popular pass time for students. I had mixed feelings about that. I don't really dig the ''party scene'' (not that I am actually that familiar with it). Large groups of people I don't know and dancing have a tendency to intimidate me.
I've had to stretch my comfort zone quite a bit this past week, but I think it's been good for me. I'm feeling much better about being here than I was a couple days ago. I realized that in order to meet people, I was going to have to take the initiative, as difficult as that may be.
I try to start conversation with people I sit next to in lecture, which is good for me socially, but also because they generally have a better idea about what is going on than I do. I've also joined a couple student clubs here at EPFL. Before I got here, I signed up with a group called Xchange, which is made up, for the most part, of current and former exchange students. Through this group, I was paired up with a ''Buddy'' in my major. He's letting me use his Thermodynamics book, I appreciate that. This group has pub nights every week, but I haven't gone to any of those. Maybe I will someday, but I'm not really what you would call a ''party-animal''. I think I'm going to go to the mountains with Xchange on Sunday. The trip that's planned sounds like a lot of fun. And it's the Swiss Alps, need I say more.
I also joined a group called Callista. It's an amateur astronomy club. The people in charge of it are masters students in Physics. I met a girl from Mexico at this meeting. We ended up riding the Metro back into town together. It was very nice. A couple times each semester, Callista drives up into the mountains for better observing. I look forward to that.
Yesterday, I went to a picnic for a campus bible group called GBEU. I went with the only other mechanical engineering exchange student from the US. We met at orientation. The picnic and worship following were wonderful. It was like being back in Ames at Faithspring. It was my first time worshiping in French, but not my first worship in another language. It reminded me very much of worship in Juarez, Mexico. It was very powerful for me. I think I'm going to get more involved with this group. They are going to start meeting on campus for lunch a couple days a week, and I think I might join an more in-depth bible study with them. I look forward to getting to know the people better that I met last night. There are two worship groups within GBEU, the one in French that I went to last night, and an international group that is in English. The international group is having a movie night tonight. I'm going to go to that.
It's nice only taking a few classes. Not that it is easy, because it is in French after all, but it gives me time to do things other than study; joining clubs for example. Also, I think I might go to a Discofit class once a week. It's an aerobics class that I imagine is similar to Jazzercise. I wanted to do Yoga, but the beginner's class meets at the same time as one of my lectures. I don't think the two times of doing yoga on the terrace in Mexico, and the one sunrise yoga that I attended at ISU are enough for me to hop into the Advanced class. Maybe next semester.

1 comment:

Krista said...

I know exactly what you're talking about!! Harwood made things way easier at home... I'm glad to see things are picking up :-)