These “montagnes” !

My first visit to Switzerland was in 2015; my family and I were traveling to another European country when we had a layover in Geneva. During the brief 4 hours we were there, I remained in awe of the landscape. I even remember pointing out the Swiss alps from my airplane window upon our descent!  

The Swiss Alps, either snow-capped or topped with an abundance of farms and vineyards, are a recognizable feature of Switzerland. They are not only beautiful from afar, but they also offer ample opportunities to hike, swim, and of course, see an incredible view. Even though  7 years have passed, since my last encounter with these mountains, I still remain starstruck at the sight of them.

I have been extremely blessed to have seen, been on, and inside the mountains already. My family and I did some independent travel before I arrived, allowing me the opportunity to learn more about my surroundings before I started the semester. However, during the first week, after orientation and completing my homework in the afternoon, I have also been to savor Switzerland’s incredible landscape even further. 

Here’s what I have been able to do! (Scroll down to the bottom of the blog for photos!)

  • Take a Gondola ride to the Matterhorn (yes, the Toblerone mountain!) and its glacier
  • Explore Trümmelback falls
  • Swim with SIT students in Lake Geneva
  • Walk the top of a mountain, near Montreux, with a group of Swiss locals 
  • Take a train ride to the peak of Pilatus 
  • Paddleboard in Lake Geneva

Though these activities cultivated a stronger appreciation for the landscape’s beauty, they also allowed me to learn more about Swiss culture and its relationship with the environment.  

To me, these experiences allowed me to understand and appreciate that Swiss culture acknowledges the beauty in purity. Growing up in an area that is characterized by its concrete and skyscrapers, the ever-presence of foliage, rock, and wildlife is already striking, but even more so, are the initiatives to preserve these natural features. 

From what I have seen, aside from ski resorts, some farms, and a sporadic placement of villages outside of larger cities, most Swiss mountains have remained untouched. The preservation of the Alps and natural resources allows animals to roam freely, plants to grow wildly, and snow to cover peaks. Especially during the summer, this preservation allows the landscape to offer a brilliant assortment of colors in its flora, fauna, and even water! Needless to say, being able to learn about, see, and experience Switzerland’s nature during the last few weeks has been extremely refreshing. 

As summer fades into autumn, and the brilliance of autumn fades into winter, I look forward to seeing how the landscape will retain its beauty.

Now, as promised, here are those mountains (courtesy of me, my camera, and my Dad’s A+ portrait photography skills)

Trümmelback Falls
Scenes from Pilatus
A church was spotted from the peak of Pilatus!
Cows are my favorite animals, I have been lucky to spot them on multiple occasions! This cow was found on the walk near Montreux.
Lake Geneva, as seen from the Montreux walk.
Me, in front of the Matterhorn, with my Hope gear!
Inside the Matterhorn glacier

Published by Juliana Struyk

Class of 2023 Political Science Major and French Minor SIT Geneva, Switzerland

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