Hello everyone, this is Peter Chang, Din #242, writing about our seven magical days in Switzerland.
Our fourth stop was Wohlen, Switzerland, a municipality in the Kanton of Aargau, less than an hour’s train ride from Zürich. It was the longest stop in the tour so far, a total of 6 nights and 7 days, and yet it was also the stop with the most packed daily schedule, as well. We stayed with the students of the Kantonsschule Wohlen, a gymnasium (like a Pre-College School) founded in 1976.
We arrived at Zürich Airport on the afternoon of Thursday, June 7th, where we were greeted warmly by KJ, an English teacher at the Kantonsschule Wohlen, who has been helping the Dins with our Switzerland stop. After a brief train ride, we stepped onto the beautiful town of Wohlen, where we met the first class of students in the English-immersion class with whom we would be staying and spending time for the first three days.
That afternoon, we were treated to a barbecue party in front of the school's campus, and we played volleyball and a Swiss game called Kubb, or Viking Chess, that involves throwing sticks to knock down the other team’s sticks, until the sun set and our legs were too exhausted to move.
Brian and I stayed with a student named Sina Gisler. Her parents showered us with Swiss chocolate gifts, which we dutifully nibbled to show our appreciation--who am I kidding? We proceeded to stuff our faces with the chocolates. The Swiss really do know how to make their chocolate.
The next morning, we woke up earlier than I’d ever woken up to go to school, at around 6 am, to follow Sina in her lengthy daily journey involving several train and bus rides to school. We participated in the “Up Close and Personal with Dins” for the students, where we combined singing with presentations about ourselves. Afterward, we had a more formal performance in the same auditorium and then went on a small excursion to the Straw Museum with the class. We hung out with the students in a bar afterwards, where we were introduced to several unique drinks, including one that involved inhaling the steam of a shot of vodka.
Next day, as Sina had to teach a swimming lesson, another student named Lionel Zingg brought Brian and me around Zürich for most of the day. Zürich was a very interesting city, where the historic buildings stood side-by-side with modern buildings harmoniously. We tried the most delicious macarons I’ve ever had at a store called Sprüngli and had the most stimulating conversation with Lionel, who wants to become a politician, about differences in politics and educational systems of Switzerland and America.
That evening, we had a big performance at a concert hall in Oberwil-Lieli, after which we bid farewell to the first class of students and were introduced to the second class of students with whom we spent time for the remainder of our stay in Switzerland.
The second student I stayed with was named Pascal Ziegler, who became my very close friend over the next few days. We went back to Zürich the next day with fellow Dins Eli and Patrick and their hosts to attend the Formula E, a racing championship using only electric-powered cars. It was a historic event in Switzerland, as it was the first circuit race in Switzerland for over 60 years. Although none of us was particularly enthusiastic about car races, we soon caught the tangible excitement that flowed through the air and had a great time!
The next day, we went up the Pilatus Mountain in Lucerne. We took Pilatus Railway, Europe’s steepest cogwheel railway, up to the peak. The view from up the Pilatus was breathtaking, and we were sad to be coming down after a few hours. Afterwards, we went to the local glass museum, where some of the Dins participated in glass-blowing.
The next day, we caught a train to Brunnen, where we visited a girls’ school. After another set of “Up Close and Personal” and a short performance, we visited the town with some of the school's students, where we made our own Swiss army knives and did a tasting tour of Kirschwasser, a liquor made from Cherries, at the Kirschwasser museum. Out of all the Dins, Brian was especially enthusiastic about the taste of the liquor. Underground, in the Kirschwasser cellars, we noticed how echoey the space was and took the opportunity to sing Danny Boy -- and boy did we sound good.
Scroll through to see some of Switzerland's natural beauty!
Photos by Eli Troen #250
The next day was our final day in Switzerland. During our final lunch in the Kantonsschule, we bid tearful farewell to all of the students. Thankfully, a number of students will be visiting Harvard in September, including my host Pascal, so we will get to see some of these wonderful people again in a couple months!
With our hearts full and our bellies even fuller with chocolate and fondue, we stepped onto the train to depart for our next stop, Strasbourg.
Signed with Din-k,