There have been very few places that I’ve traveled where I felt like I could’ve have skipped, but that’s pretty much how I felt in Zurich. Aside from a stop to Kunsthaus Zurich, where I was introduced to couple new artists, I found the city overall a bit boring and didn’t think there was much to do. It probably didn’t help that I caught a stomach bug while there and was miserable due to the hot July weather. After a couple days I was happy to head to Geneva.
I was very excited to visit Geneva, as it’s supposed to be one of most international cities in the world. It’s home to many multinational organizations including the United Nations and the Red Cross. I was also delighted to find it was a very low key city. It was nice to relax, as I was just starting to feel better. Plus, I knew I’d be running around like crazy once I got to Italy.
I stopped by the waterfront for a picture of the Jet d’Eau, the highest fountain in Europe and also snapped the above photo of the floral clock.
I visited the Saint-Pierre Cathedral which also has an archaeological site underneath. The excavation began in 1976 and is ongoing. There are 11 exhibition spaces under the Cathedral and the adjacent streets.
Imprint from a bell:
I also did a little shopping while in town. I’d wanted to buy a nice Swiss army knife for some time. I had a cheap one that I’d picked up somewhere along the way and the scissors didn’t even work. Since it was high on my ‘want’ list and I was in Switzerland, I figured I might as well get myself one. So I did.
After my shopping, I was off to the International Hill where I visited the Red Cross Museum and the United Nations European headquarters. Learning about the history of the Red Cross was absolutely amazing. I had no idea that it’d been around for so long or how and why it had originally started. I also walked through the exhibit on the Cambodia genocide of the late 1970’s, another part of our world’s history that I was completely ignorant of.
This was also one of my first introductions to the life of refugees. I felt very small and naive as I walked through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Library and Visitors’ Center. I’d heard about Darfur but didn’t really understand the struggle that people were facing. In all my travels so far in Europe, I hadn’t really been aware of the extent of my privilege as an American citizen. As I stood learning about the plight of so many refugees across different countries, I felt very fortunate and grateful for my own life.
My visit to the Red Cross Museum and UNHCR had a great affect on me. As I stood reading about the history of the Red Cross, I started thinking about how little I had volunteered in recent years. When I was younger, I focused on volunteer work and giving back, but during college I had definitely gone through a shift where service had become less prominent in my life. In Geneva, I started questioning why that had happened and I determined that I wanted to make an effort to give back more. This would ultimately lead me to applying for the Peace Corps and to volunteer with organizations like the International Rescue Committee (IRC) upon my return to the United States.
As you can see, my time in Geneva had a profound impact on my life. It’s always amazing to me how a few days in a new place or one new experience can change your attitude on how you’re living your life. But this is one thing that I love about travel: I’m constantly challenged about everything that I think I know, and by being challenged, I continue to learn.
How has travel affected you? Have you ever had one moment or place change your direction in life?
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