Hi everyone! My name is Sarah Chavez and I am a second-year sport management major with a certificate in sports media currently partaking in the Sport and the International Olympic Committee Maymester in Lausanne, Switzerland.
I learned about this program while taking a German sport and politics class this past fall and immediately fell in love with pictures of Lausanne and the idea of visiting the International Olympic Committee. I’ve known that I wanted to study abroad since I began attending UT and when I heard about this program, I knew that it was a great opportunity for me to do so! As a sports management major, sports law, the class that I’m taking while here in Switzerland, is a requirement for my degree, making this program the perfect one for me. After learning about the program, I immediately started my research, and after some tough conversations with my parents about finances and worries, I finally decided that this trip was a possibility for me.
Another huge factor that went into choosing this particular program was that it was only a month long. I know I’ll probably wish I had more time in Europe once I get closer to my flight back to Texas, but I really like the fact that I can enjoy Switzerland without missing out on too much time with my friends and family this summer. I really love all the time that I spend with my sisters and parents during summer break and was a little hesitant to leave them for a month, but I think that a Maymester was the perfect compromise between my wanderlust and my need to be home. After I set my mind on doing whatever it took to make it to Lausanne, everything began to fall in place. Having only learned about the program a month before the application was due, I knew that I needed to start putting some major work on not only my application for the program but also scholarships. (Pro tip: Make sure to look at the scholarship application dates because they sneak up so quick and the scholarships are so helpful!) After sending in my application, I anxiously waited for my (hopefully) acceptance letter and sometime after Thanksgiving break I received it. Soon after I paid my deposit and never looked back.
As a first-generation college student, I’ve always thought about studying abroad but figured that I probably couldn’t afford it. However, with a loan, scholarships, and the help of my parents and family (without them this wouldn’t have been possible), I was able to make it happen. Besides finances, another potential problem that I recognized was the fact that I’d never been abroad before, so this trip could potentially be difficult for me. This would mean that I would fly to another continent for the first time all by my lonesome, which was a bit intimidating for someone who had been on a plane twice in her life. I consider myself a pretty confident person but I would’ve never thought that I’d have enough courage to apply and actually go through with a study abroad program about 5,000 miles away from home, but then again, like Winnie the Pooh said, “You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” After realizing this, I was still pretty nervous about getting to all of my gates on time, finding reasonably priced food at the airports, surviving the long and boring flight to Europe, and after landing in Europe, finding my city and hostel but it all seemed to work out really well. (Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask questions!) Although my flights were long and boring, they weren’t that bad. I didn’t have any crazy long layovers and got to watch some really great movies on the plane, which made the 8-hour flight from Newark easy to handle.
It’s been two days since I landed in Switzerland and made my way to Lausanne, and I’m already in love with the city. I spent an entire day in crowded airports and on too many planes, but my first glance at Lausanne was definitely worth the boring hours in the airport and long flights. Since this is my first time abroad, I was extremely nervous about my trek across the Atlantic but it went a lot smoother than I thought. I left Dallas early on May 31st and after a stop in Newark, New Jersey, found myself in Geneva, Switzerland, which is only a 45-minute train ride away from Lausanne, on June 1st. In this region of Switzerland, most people speak French and although, I only know about three words in French, with the gracious help of locals, I was able to find my train, bus, and hostel. So far everyone in Switzerland has been extremely nice and helpful, despite the language barrier, which is awesome because I know that I’ll probably need their help again. After making my way to the hostel and settling in, I began to explore the beautiful city that is Lausanne. A classmate and I walked down to Lake Geneva, which looks like a picture off of a postcard, and began to explore the area around our hostel. Swimming in the lake, with the beautiful mountains in the background, is definitely on my Lausanne bucket list. That evening, we had a dinner as a class with our TA and soon realized some important things about Switzerland: first, that the food is very good and second, that the food is also very expensive. After we finished dinner, we walked back to our hostel on the trail that runs alongside the lake, and I have to say that although I didn’t think it was possible, I think Lake Geneva is even more beautiful at sunset.
Day 2 of Lausanne and I already feel like I know the city fairly well. The local transportation which consists of buses and a metro, is so easy to use and is extremely reliable. After eating breakfast at our hostel, a couple of girls and I went to the farmer’s market in the city center. This farmer’s market was unlike anyone that I’d ever been to before. I’d go so far to say that calling it a farmer’s market is a bit of an understatement. There were tons of fresh fruit, vegetables, music, clothing, and a wide variety of knick-knacks. We enjoyed some fresh strawberries while walking through the market and they were absolutely delicious, which means that I’ll be returning to the farmer’s market to purchase more before I leave. We stumbled upon a small park, which was equipped with a beautiful pond, swings, and small hills. In the afternoon, we had the opportunity to visit the Olympic Museum here in Lausanne, which was an experience that I will never forget. The museum wasn’t only beautiful but was incredibly interesting. I took about 100 photos, simply because I want everyone back home to see all of the official Olympic Games posters, Olympic medals, and torches, that I fangirled over. After wandering around the city, we had dinner at Café de L’Evêché, which consisted of endless baskets of fresh bread, creamy fondue, and delicious tiramisu. Following dinner, we walked around Lausanne soaking in the beautiful architecture and cool evenings, which are a blessing coming from the 100-degree weather we had in Austin. When we returned to the hostel, I showered and headed to bed after a long day of walking and sight-seeing!
It’s only my second day here in Lausanne and I have loved all of the amazing things that I’ve seen and the adventures that I’ve gone on so far, and seriously cannot wait for all of the other things that I’ll get to see and experience during my month here in Lausanne!
This post was contributed by Sarah Chavez, a 2018 Global Ambassador.