(1) Once upon a time in Switzerland…

This is a personal, chronological, imagery recount of my stay in Lausanne, Switzerland while on a ‘Study Abroad’ summer from the University of Miami to the University of Lausanne, with the goal to better my degree of competence in the French Language. Despite a negative incident on route, I made it to my sanctuary, making friend along the way.


My Experience in Portugal…

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After a long delay from Miami due to bad weather conditions, and missing my connection in Lisbon, Portugal, I was stranded in the Lisbon Airport for a few hours. On the way to Portugal, I sat across from a man named Moyses Levy that was on his way to Barcelona on a business trip. We lined up for the itinerary change and each received a meal voucher. The advantage of making acquaintances during long travels is that time flies when you’re chatting with someone about anything while waiting.  I think eating alone is boring, so being friendly is always a plus.

After my meal, I went to use the restroom before boarding, but it was in the process of being cleaned, so I walked into the ‘handicapped facility’ (I am a disabled veteran and even if I look ‘normal’ I have both back and knees injuries). To my surprise, when I came out of the stall the cleaning lady was standing there shouting at me for using that restroom and pointed that there was a woman and her child waiting (no apparent handicap either). I don’t speak Portuguese, but among the languages I speak, Spanish is one of them and it is very close to Portuguese in many aspects. I understood the message perfectly, but what I did NOT like a bit was that she called me “preto maluco” which is a racial slur similar to the n-word. The lady with the child said to me “Pay no attention to her. Sir, I’m so sorry for what she said.” She then proceeded to talk to the cleaning lady about her questionable behavior, so I moved on to my gate for boarding.

On my way to Genève…and then, Lausanne

Before boarding, I met a couple of funny Brazilian guys on their way back home to Switzerland. They very interested, among other things, in knowing ‘why in the States’ we called it ‘soccer’ instead of its real name ‘FOOTBALL’; instead call ‘football’ a sport that is not even played with the feet? But that’s a question I have of my own so I could not answer it for them.

I finally arrived to Genève, Switzerland and the Brazilians were kind enough to help find my way to Lausanne… my ‘final destination’ lol.


I took the metro and met a friendly and kind couple of locals on their way to Lausanne-Flon in the center of the city, where the man directed me about the connection to a public bus, from there to the University of Lausanne (UNIL) area and even wrote the instructions on a paper for me. There were multiple steps to take before getting to UNIL. I got to UNIL at around 8pm (as opposed to the 10am I had on my itinerary) and of course every office was CLOSED.

After dragging my luggage left and right with no luck, I decided to ask someone for directions to the student housing at the ‘Atrium Residential Complex’. I asked the ONLY guy that was around and walking towards me for directions, but he did not speak French. He was an exchange student from China doing his master’s at UNIL and was coming back from playing soccer. He spoke English and, luckily, he was going my way too. We took the Metro and he instructed me about where to get off the train and about the route to my residence building… which by the way, WAS ALSO CLOSED…!!!

I found myself standing in front of the ‘Atrium Residence Office’ past 9pm and yes… IT WAS ALSO CLOSED…!!! Of course it would…!!! I was already extremely irritated. All of a sudden, a guy was passing by so I introduced myself and asked him if he knew if anyone from the building would be available ‘after hours’ (a concierge, janitor, ANYBODY???). His name was Bernard Maccari, an exchange student from Lyon, France.

Bernard suggested a nearby hotel (Swiss Tech Hotel) and walked me there. He was on his way to meet his girlfriend and said to be back in about an hour or so. He also offered to let me stay in his dorm on an inflatable mattress in case I decided not to stay at the hotel. He gave me his dorm number and said I could come over if I still need a place to stay that night.

He went on his way and I walked into the hotel.  After finding that the room was 150CHF a night (almost US200) I decided to take Bernard up on his offer. I’m a United States Marine Corps Infantry Veteran, so in my head I was already assessing the issue and looking for multiple solutions to complete this mission –I was even considering sleeping on a park bench– but I was NOT about to pay 200 bucks for accommodations that were already paid for, and “let the Swiss win?” Hell no! They didn’t even make it to the quarter finals (if you didn’t understand that last remark, it’s your homework to find out what I meant lol). It is a matter of principles, or pride, or hard-headedness… or whatever lol…

I needed to contact my wife and babies, so the hotel clerk was kind enough to grant me access to their wifi, but my phone and tablet were out of battery power since Portugal. If you ever visit Europe, you better bring an adapter to recharge your electronic items. The wall-plugs here are very different from those in the Americas, so get ready to purchase one for about U$30… Thankfully, they sold them at the hotel and I was able to contact my family.

I will say it again, bring an adaptor to recharge your electronic devises…!!


After a while, I left the Hotel lobby and went to Bernard’s dorm. He was very welcoming and he even cooked pasta for me. I did not see his action of opening his place to a stranger as bizarre, because I have done similar things on many occasions for other people. What I found strange was to be on the other side of the spectrum. I guess this was Mother Nature taking care of me this time.

One good action by this guy erased a whole trail of discontent…good things can and DO happen to those who do good…!

The next day early in the morning I walked to the office and finally got the key to my place.


These are the accommodations at the Atrium Residential Complex… the dorm has all basis things you need for living.  The kitchen and the living room are shared, but the other students in this apartment are out on vacation, so I got the whole place to myself for now.

I feel as if I’m back in a US Marine’s Barracks, but full of IKEA furniture lol.


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*** Make sure you bring your laptop (instead of doing what I did and bring only a tablet), because the internet in the dorm room is via ETHERNET or get ready to buy a ‘ROUTER’…!!!

I didn’t waste time and went for a reconnaissance mission of my immediate perimeter and then, went on university grounds to get acquainted with the terrain before heading out to the city.


Public Transportation at Lausanne, Switzerland:

The public transportation in Lausanne, Switzerland is great. There are buses all over the place and the metro system is great…!!! It is NOT like the bus system I have used in Los Angeles where you pay the fair on a machine by the door next to the driver; and nothing like the metro system I have used in New York in which you pay on a machine before you go on board but have to pass the ticket through a gate opener in order to gain access into the train. There is a ‘MobilisCard’ you can purchase for a set period of time and gives you access to ALL public transportation, or you can pay on an automated machine at the bus|metro stops and then, just get on-board. The curious fact is that NO ONE checks if you have it or not, but you don’t want to take the chance of a random check… The safest and easiest thing to do is to purchase a ‘MobilisCard’…!!!


The day is not over… more to be added… check back at a later time…!!!  ;)



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