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Published: August 21st 2007
My first day in Europe brought a huge mixture of emotions. Leaving the US was amusing of course. I was chosen to have a random baggage check, so they sent my luggage through the machine..then dug through my carry-on and patted me down. So much to worry about and I'm leaving the country, not coming in! When I arrived in Frankfort, I didn't need to go through customs, but just walk to the correct gate and have my carry-on checked again. I was scared about the short 1 hour layover, since my last experience with a 2 hour layover in the US made me miss my flight, but I had enough time to take a quick restroom break before boarding the bus to go to the plane..and 15 minutes later, I was on my way to Geneva. THEN when I got to Geneva, I got my monsterous luggage onto a cart and headed to the dreaded customs. What a surprise! I stood in line to see the "Passport Police", who I thought were the ones who checked the passports before entering customs. I still didn't have the little sheet asking what I was bringing into the country, how long I was staying, where I was staying, etc., so I was waiting for a ton of questions....but they never came. The man barely looked at my passport, didn't even stamp it, and said "Thank you". I walked through the door, expecting to see another customs area, but to my surprise, there were the sliding glass doors welcoming me to Switzerland via the airport parking lot. After about 2 minutes, I spotted my host mother, and we were off to with my mountain of luggage.
I was surprised to see that she drives an automatic car because I thought all cars in Europe were standard. She drove me through Geneva, past the famous fountain called Jet Eau I think, and through some very nice neighborhoods that were/are home to several famous authors/actors/etc. We stopped for a view of the lake before heading to the house. After lugging my suitcases up two flights of stairs, I began settling into my new room. My space is very nice, with a bedroom and sitting area. I have a bed, desk, small closet, table, bookcase, and sink in my bedroom; a sitting area with a nice tv; and a terrace overlooking the garden.
After settling in a bit, I took the car and drove into the town, which was quite an interesting experience. Even though I practiced driving a standard transmission car in the US, it was still very difficult to drive this one, and I ended up killing the engine several times. Thankfully, European (or at least the French/Swiss in this area) are very nice, and there were no angry horns honking at me. The car comes equipped with a GPS system, which according to regular logic would help you not to get lost, but of course I had trouble following the directions. It was quite difficult to drive a car I'm not used to down roads with different lines (for lanes), signs, street lights, etc, not to mention figuring out the round-abouts! Wow..what a shock! I parked the car, so relieved to get out and walk that I forgot to make sure that I knew what it looked like so I could find it again! I walked and walked, getting lost for part of the time, but finding my way back pretty quickly, and thankfully recognizing my car instantly. Then to add to the excitement, I put the GPS system back on the windshield, only to find out that I had accidentally pushed the card out and reset the system. Determined not to use my cell to call home, I figured out the system and quickly made my way back home for the rest of the day.
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