I was so excited to spend my summer abroad. My sophomore year had just ended and I had found a camp that offered both synchronized skating and German.
My search brought me to Les Elfes, a camp located in the alpine city of Verbier, near Geneva. Once my aunt found out about my plans, she insisted I bring along her daughter, Kiara. The flight I had tickets for, the LH 405 out of JFK, had been booked for weeks by the time Kiara’s plans had been finalized, and was no longer available so my aunt booked Kiara another flight.
I flew into Geneva and prepared to wait for my cousin; my flight was scheduled to arrive ten minutes after hers. Kiara and I were then supposed to be picked up at the airport by Babbette, a family friend who lives in Switzerland. Ten minutes, fifteen minutes, even half an hour passed as I waited for Kiara’s flight. Confused as to why I was unable to find Kiara, I called Babbette. Babbette informed that she had already met Kiara.
With luggage in hand, I walked out into the reception area searching for Babbette, who was nowhere in sight. I rang her mobile and she instructed me to wave. Still on the phone, she informed me that she could not see me. Then, we were both waving. I sent her a text message saying that we should meet at the coffee shop, where it was less crowded. We both waited at the coffee shop for one another. My cell rang; Babbette informed me that she could not see me. This “hide and go seek” game that Babbette, Kiara, and I were playing continued for about an hour and a half. Eventually, Babbette had me put an employee on the phone, and the Francophone spoke to her in his native language. She instantly knew what was wrong; I had flown into the French city of Geneva while Babbette was waiting for me in Zurich, a German-speaking city. My mother had booked me a flight to the wrong city.
Transporting oneself with three suitcases from one foreign city to another is quite the feat, yet I had no choice but to take the journey at 6 a.m. I took a train to Zurich and 4 ½ hours later; I finally met up with Kiara and Babbette.
As you can imagine, an international camp in Switzerland attracts campers from across the globe, bringing not only their cultures but their diseases as well. H1N1, AKA Swine Flu, had recently blown across the globe and somehow straight into our little Alpine camp. The Swiss government mandated a quarantine sentence. Not only was I unable to train for skating, but also the German tutor was outside the quarantine zone, rendering my entire voyage for naught.
Although I was quarantined for 2/3 of the duration of my camp, all the campers were able to bond and form friendships under the strange circumstances. I became close friends with people from Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Hong Kong, Haiti and Austria. The last three days of camp when our quarantine sentence was lifted, were three of the most exciting days I have ever had. Not only was I able to leave the premises of the camp, but we were able to do various activities that I had never participated in before. We went mountain biking, hiking and through ropes courses in the Alps and water skiing on lake Geneva. Through this almost disastrous experience, I have now had an experience I can remember forever and friends across the globe.
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