Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sicklicious with a capital S

Have you ever been so sick that you just wanted to curl up in the fetal position and die? Yea, that was me yesterday. I got the worst Altitude sickness ever, I can honestly not remember the last time I was that sick. Oh man it was terrible, I have never wanted my mom more. haha. After I got some really strong medicine in me, and lots and lots of sleep I was better by this morning. I have just been really drowsy from all the medicine.

But despite my sickness, I still managed to scale my way down a canyon. Canyoning was such a cool experience! This is not to say that I wasn't scared out of my mind the whole time, (there might have been 1 or 2, or maybe 12 foul words streaming from my mouth all the way down, haha) but I definitely have no regrets about doing it. It was such a rush jumping off cliffs into raging rapids, not to mention that the water was cold enough to numb you to death. Looking back I can't believe I actually did some of those one point our guide said,

"Ok, you are going to jump off this cliff, however there is only a one foot space to jump into because there are rocks. Also, the water current is really strong, so if you get stuck just hold your breath and raise your hand and we will pull you out. Ready? Go."

Yea, I'm pretty sure I wet myself on that one.

Overall, it was an amazing experience. We had planned on going hiking today, but my sickness, and our sore bodies strayed us from that plan. This morning we got some shopping in (of course) and walked around the village. Then we hopped on the train, and decided to stop off in Bern (Capital of Switzerland) for lunch. After some good pizza we hopped back on the train home to Geneva.

It was a good weekend get-away, even if I swore by my premature death. I am just getting ready to start the work week. The office is soooo busy right now. It is a bit stressful, as I still have alot of plans to finalize in the next two weeks. But, overall we are getting excited for Cape Town!

My mom is coming to visit on Friday!!! and Saturday is the 4th (obviously), but apparently it is a big deal here in Geneva. So, I am going to take her "out" the bars. haha. It should be fun!

Anyway, I will keep you updated with some more of my (and my mom's) schenanigans later!

Claire :)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dance Dance


This week has just flown by....I can't believe that my time in Geneva is almost half over! Crazy!

The work week went really well. I found out that I am going to have a special job at the upcoming conference in July. I am working on the planning of the "engagement tours" part of our conference. We are planning for delegates to go out to three local organizations that are involved one way of another with HIV/AIDS. It is a great opportunity for delegates to network as well as see other approaches and solutions for HIV/AIDS.

We had great weather this weekend even though it was predicted to rain! I was really excited to have sun! On Friday I went on a long walk by the water and stood under the jet d'eau (big water fountain thing that Geneva is known for). Geneva truly is a beautiful city...

On Saturday morning I went to France to the local market. I cannot get over the cheese selection here. oh my gosh. I love cheese. I always go up to all of the different vendors and ask for samples. I honestly could not tell you what kind of cheese I am eating, but it is delicious.

After the market a bunch of us went to the park and layed out. I am starting to get a nice golden tan! The park that we go was actually donated to the city of Geneva by this man when he passed away. There is a beautiful house on the property, and an amazing rose garden. It is my favorite park in Geneva, because I can walk there and it is right on the water and it is FREE! yea!

During the Summer Geneva has a bunch of different music festivals. This weekend was "Fete de la Musique". There were different venues all throughout the entire city, and there was every type of music possible represented. On Saturday night, we went to the biggest venue which had many different stages. It was soooo much fun! There was so much pot (it is legal here, not that I did it....duh) and hippies with dreadlocks. It was awesome. There was a really sweet techno artist, so we danced to him for a long while.

Today, I am hoping to plan my trip to Interlochen for next weekend! oh, and I found out that Nessy the Loch Ness Monster is in Scotland. bummer man. There is always next time!

Hope you have a wonderful day :)


Monday, June 15, 2009



I got home late last night from Venice, Italy! I traveled with my friends Sarah and Haley and we left Geneva early Friday morning and arrived in Venice around 2:30 and left around 4:30 in the afternoon on Sunday. It was a perfect weekend, and it was great to get out of rainy Switzerland!

Even though it was a long 8 hour train ride, it was worth it because the views were spectacular. The snow capped alps are gorgeous, and we saw a few castles and lakes along the way. When we walked out of the train station, all of our jaws dropped, Venice was exactly what I expected, maybe even better!

anyone know the movie Italian Job?? Well, that is what I was expecting from Venice, and it was like that, except without the boat chasing scene, and handsome Rob. haha. The cool thing about Venice is that there are not that many "touristy" things to see, mainly just the Piazza San Marco. Which was amazing by the way. However, just because there are not that many touristy things, does not mean there are no tourists....cuz there are. I heard more English this weekend than I have heard since Detroit. I am not ashamed to say that it was a bit refreshing. We had a great time just walking around in the alleys, getting lost. It is amazing how you can just walk around a corner and right in front of you is a giant beautiful building or statue. It is like the seeing the Trevi Fountain in Rome. So cool.

The church in the Piazza, (don't remember the name right now...) is probably the most amazing church I have even been in, and I have been in alot of churches. I was unfortunately not aloud to take pictures, but it had huge dome ceilings that were covered in Mosaic tiles with lots of Gold. aka very Roman Catholic.

My favorite part about Venice was the water buses...they are exactly like what they sound. It is a great way to see the buildings of the Grand Canal, and it is on a boat, therefore it is super fun! (I'm on a boat....haha, now it is stuck in your head) We took a water bus up to the small island of Moreno, which is known for Venetian glass blowing. We went to the factory and got to see a demonstration, and this guy made a horse out of glass in front of us. I was impressed.

Of course we ate alot. mostly pizza and gelato. sooo good!!!! Plus, they had pastries for 1 euro....that is unheard of in Switzerland. Thus, were were pretty excited. I spent way too much money shopping...but that is nothing new. haha. My favourite purchase is a hand painted water color, it is beautiful.

now onto our hostel......ok, so I was the one who found the hostel, therefore I was a little worried that is was going to be terrible and Sarah and Haley were going to kill me. And considering it was called "Camp Jolly" and it was a camp ground outside of the city and the directions to get there were a bit sketch, I had alot to be worried about. During part of our journey to the camp ground we had to take a public was here where I realized why deodorant is such a fabulous invention. learn it. use it. love it.

After that festive experience, we had to walk about "10 minutes" according the directions that I was given. yea they were wrong. haha. However, as we got off the bus, we meet a nice lad named Thomas who was going to Camp Jolly too. He was a really nice guy from England, and lead us there safely. It actually ended up being a great turned out to be half the price that we had originally thought, and us three girls had our own half of a double wide trailer. haha. The shower was actually nicer than the one here in Le Cenacle. We signed up for an adventure, and that we got! The first night I got very little sleep due to the .....wait for it....toga party going on a few trailers down. I kid you not. The following night there was a "doctors and patients party". so legit.

Ok...onto the job. I worked really hard last week getting invitation letters ready to go out to members of the IAS. I was also in charge of editing and writing up "special invitation" letters for select people. Among those people were.....Michelle Obama, Bono, and Navi Pillay. I felt special. Overall, it is really busy in the office as we prepare for the conference, tomorrow I have my first meeting of "what to expect at the conference", I have a strange feeling that it will turn into more of a "what we expect from you" type of meeting.....but I guess that is what being an intern is all about! haha. I am excited either way!

This coming weekend I think I am going to try and hit up the beach in Geneva....I am praying for some good weather! It is still raining here!!! The following weekend I am going to Interlochen! Haley and I have decided that we want to go "Canyoning". Sounds extreme doesn't it? That is because it is.....we are so hardcore.

I hope that you all are doing well. If you have a chance, send me a quick e-mail/fb message/ skype...whatever other means of technology there is.....I would love to hear what you are all up to these days!

Claire :)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

PB + J with out the PB.

Hey Y'all!

This week has been pretty low key which has been a nice change of pace. I discovered yesterday that the blinds/shutters (idk what they are....) in my window work really well. I closed them all the way for the first is so dark, and I slept until like 11 which is really unheard of for me. It was nice.

Friday I decided I wanted go to the park to read and catch some sun....except for the fact that there was no sun to catch and it started to rain. ohh well. haha. It has actually been raining and thundering for the last few days. We went out around town on Friday night. There are a few English speaking pubs....where we speak English....with Irish/Scottish/English people. haha.

Yesterday my friend Kelsey and I took Haley (from Wake Forest) on a tour of the city, as she missed the tour that all of us MSU students got. There is this one park in Geneva that has huge chess boards on the ground, so we played a game. Well, Kelsey and Haley played a game. I tried to learn, it is difficult! We were complete nerds and tried to reenact the life size chess game from Harry Potter, it was hilarious.

So as you might know, Geneva is known for its cheese girls were craving it last night. We got all dolled up to go the the restaurant, and then they told us that fondue was a seasonal thing and they do not have it in the summer. Who knew?? haha. so we just got pizza and it was equally as good!

I have a funny story. So, on Tuesday morning I went down to the kitchen to make lunch for work.....and my pantry was wide open. We all have keys to get in and out of our pantry and fridge. But mine was wide open....and my peanut butter was gone!!!!! and some crackers and an open bag of noodles?

They left the nutella. who would steal and leave the nutella? I was so confused, and really mad because I had just bought some jelly the day before to make PB and J's. Also, peanut butter is like really hard to find here, so my mom had sent it to me in the mail. oh man. it was war.

The reception guy told me he would look at the camera as see if he could see anyone....he later told me that there were too many people going in and out that he could not tell who it was. But that was before my friend Jon informed me that he saw my pantry open when he was in the kitchen at like 2am.

Moral of the story, I am an idiot and left it open, inviting people to steal my delicious peanut butter. haha. Anti-climatic, I know. However, Jon showed up at my door yesterday with a new jar of Jif peanut butter. The creamy kind. What a nice guy.

Work is going well. But beware, this job is making me really, really good at Cyperstalking people. There has been many a time when my boss will give me someones name and say, "find whatever you can on this person." It is amazing how much you can find on the Internet these days....

Overall, I am learning alot about AIDS in the world and becoming really familiar with terminology, organizations, and people that are involved in the world of AIDS prevention. I am thinking of writing my research paper on AIDS stigma and discrimination, and the laws that inhibit those affected with HIV/AIDS. I have been doing a bunch of research and I am really excited to write about it.

Alrighty then....that has been this week in a nutshell. I am planning on going to Venice next weekend. I just bought a eurail pass....I hope it gets here in time, as I bought it really late. whoops.

This morning I took a shower......and then but my pajamas back on. MLIA.
It might just be one of those also does not help that it is raining and freezing outside.
However we might be going to a castle today or something.?.?.?.not really sure yet.

Peace, Claire.

Monday, June 1, 2009

I live in a land of babies and manpris.

Hola Amigos.

Remember how I told you that I thought my sense of direction was improving? Well, unfortunately on Thursday night I found out otherwise. Every Thursday after work my boss, Emily (who is fabulous and amazing) has people over to her house for spaghetti dinner. Yes,that is correct, my boss feeds me homemade spaghetti EVERY Thursday, it is pretty awesome. It was my first time going and I had a wonderful time, her three year old daughter Sophia is a doll!

However, the way home was a little rough. I was dropped off at the train station from someone else who was at dinner. Mind you the train station is only a 15 minute tram ride from where I live and I go there every day, thus I knew exactly where I was. The series of unfortunate events started when I just missed the tram 16 that I needed to get on, and it was 20 minutes until the next one. As I waited in the cold, still wearing my work clothes this Italian guy started to hit on me. I was a bit freaked out, considering I was alone, and it was midnight at a sketch tram stop. So, at that point I remembered my friend telling me that I could take bus 27 home. Thus, when bus 27 showed up before tram 16 I jumped on. I was pretty confident that it would take me where I needed to go....15 minutes later I was not so confident. I politely asked some people on the bus if they knew if this bus went anywhere near Le Cenacle (where I live) and they had no clue what I was talking about. At that point I started freaking out considering the last tram stops running right after midnight. So, I got off at the next bus stop and walked to find a tram stop, hoping to get on the tram 16 that I needed. I ended up in this sketch alley way in a place I had never been before. At this point I think I was on the verge of tears, I whipped out my phone and then realized that the only numbers I had were my Mom's. So, not very helpful. I started running (bad idea considering I was in really high heels, I still have blisters) and I saw this old man, I asked him where the trams were, and of course he did not speak any English. But, he was really nice a took me to this hotel that spoke English. Anyway, to make this really long story short, the reception guy was super nice and google mapped where I was and showed me.....and.....I was one stop away from Le Cenacle. But, It was dark and I did not recognize anything. Yea, so embarrassing. But I got home alive, and I have a good story out of it! Also, I learned the hard was that it is never a good idea to be out late by yourself. haha duh.

Anyway, I got back yesterday from a weekend in Chatel, France! It is this really cute mountain town in the Alps. If any of you Madison students reading this blog know Professor Anna Pelgor Gordan, we stayed at her "mums" condo. It was really kind of her to offer it to us. We ended up renting two cars to drive there as it is only an hour and a half away. When we got to the rental agency, they told us that they were upgrading our we got two black Audi's. They were really nice. We hung out around the town on Saturday, and on Sunday we went hiking in the Alps!

It was so beautiful, our group ended up splitting up and going on different trails. Kelsey, and Haley, (She is new as of 4 days ago, and goes to Wake Forest University!) and I climbed to the summit of a mountain! The trail ended, so we kept on climbing, and it was amazing standing on the very top of a mountain. It seemed that the mountains never ended, the higher you climb, the more mountains come into view. (that seems like common sense, but it was so cool to see!)

It was still off season in Chatel, I think everything opens in a few weeks. So, I think we might go back and go zip lining, and white water rafting some other weekend. Next weekend I am staying in Geneva, so it will be nice to chill around here. Then the following weekend I think I am going to Venice, then the next weekend is the Matterhorn (biggest mountain in Switzerland), and the next weekend after that I am going on a tour of CERN which will be sweet, and then hopefully going to Interlochen to say hi to Nessy the Loch Ness monster. All in all, I have some eventful weeks coming up!

Ok, if you noticed the title of this blog, I have some more silly observations.

First, there must be something in the water here because everyone is pregnant. And do not think I am crazy for noticing this...everyone in my group has noticed. They are everywhere. Sometimes, when I am on the tram ride home from work, I count. I got up to seven once, and it is only a 25 minute tram ride. Wow, that really makes me sound lame. But, I promise you I will not come home with a bun in the oven :)

Second, men here have a very strange sense of fashion. Sometimes it is good, but lots of times it is far from good. Manpris have inhabited Europe. ( Manpri = a capri pant for men) I do not understand, I think they look terrible and incredible awkward. As the weather starts to warm up, I will begin to see more and more. Last time I was in Europe, Lauren and I counted them.....the number got too high to keep track of. So I do not think I am going to keep a count this time, haha.

It is a holiday today, so I think we are going to go to the beach and hang out and walk around. I have not been yet, so I am excited!

Adios, Claire.