By Laura Németh
It’s been ages again! I really can’t believe how time flies and have been very reluctant to write because that would also involve acknowledging that my year here will be coming to end all too soon. In what is about exactly a month I will have to pack my suitcases (which will involve finding a solution for all the dresses that I have acquired and that will certainly exceed Easyjets nasty weight limits) and leave this flat, the city and, above all, the people that have made this place home for me during these past months. Of course I am looking forward to my other home in Zurich too: I can’t wait to see all the lovely people that I have been missing for quite long enough now, to relax by the lake or jump into the river after a hot summer’s day, and to finally be able to cycle anywhere again at any point of day or night without any lights on my bike and yet with perfect ease of mind in the knowledge that the potential of being robbed, being hit by a double-decker bus or of losing my way in area in the darkness of a rather dodgy area is virtually non-existent.
And yet, even though I have certainly had a few moments where I was completely fed up with this place and wondered why on earth anybody could choose to live here, it has nevertheless become very dear to me and I know that I will miss it very badly. You simply cannot hate this city even though there are undoubtedly some grim things about it. In fact, I think anybody with an open mind could not help but start to really like it sooner or later because there are just so many things that make up for its less desirable sides.
The past few days have been a perfect example of this and I am sorry if I relate to one of Britain’s all-time favourite subjects again – the weather. Unfortunately, I had announced the arrival of spring rather too soon because the weather turned very horrible shortly afterwards and remained so for the past months, thanks to gusts of Siberian wind and the like. Just imagine British weather at its absolute worst and you get an idea of what we experienced. “Brass”, is what it is called here, so very brass. Unsurprisingly, I was not amused when all my friends let me know that it was already 24 degrees in Zurich with perfect summer sunshine whilst I was still stomping around in my coat, scarf and – TWO pairs of tights!
But when it eventually turned round (obviously it was not 24 degrees because that would already count as a heat wave – I am not exaggerating) a miraculous transformation happened not only in the city itself which was considerably beautified by blossoms in all shapes and forms, the most wonderful ones belonging to the uncountable magnolia trees which I completely hadn’t expected, but especially among the people. And by this I don’t mean just a few heads who really appreciate the sun and nice weather and then annoy everyone else in their surrounding by going on about it forever – to which I count myself. This becomes slightly weird and perhaps even irritating if its mid-July and countless days before have just been pretty much perfect. In contrast to here, where the vast majority of people (excluding perhaps my Indian and Egyptian flatmates who still think it’s very brass indeed or else appreciate the cold and rain because it is so “refreshing”) was visibly and profoundly excited and happy about the sun and warmth and talked about it literally all day. Every single patch of grass on campus was covered with students chatting, reading, drinking, picnicking or just soaking in the sun. Although it lasted only for a few days (it’s cloudy already again…) everyone definitely made the most of it and it was just an incredibly positive and summery atmosphere.
Never have I experienced before that I am not the most enthusiastic person about the weather – and I am quite persistent in urging everyone to have lunch outside when it’s sunny and pointing out every single daisy that I pass – but the English enthusiasm about the weather is an entirely different story. Even just having breakfast inside because you live on the eighth floor and have notably already arranged to have lunch outside and spend a couple of hours in the afternoon soaking in the sun is met with utter bewilderment. “Why would you do that? You should definitely go outside, before you do anything else!”. A rather similar reaction you will experience if you dare wearing a cardigan, even though it might still be just about 12 degrees and quite windy– “I know it’s not as hot as in bloody Switzerland but it’s still warm enough to walk around in just a top”. Or, for that matter, to lay around in a bikini, as I have seen some girls do.
As exaggerated a behaviour as it might seem if you are privileged enough to experience the Swiss spring and summer (never again will I complain about the weather when I’m back in Zurich!) you would come to understand if you lived in the North of England for a few months. In fact, the way in which everyone gets to bond over and appreciates the few nice days of the year so incredibly much is actually one of the very endearing and charming qualities that will make me miss the people here so much.
Anyway, rather than becoming depressed and being homesick without having even left Manchester yet I had better finished what is hopefully – and rather incredibly – my very last English essay. Just so that I will be ready at a moment’s notice as soon as a ray of sunshine manages to break through these clouds!
PS. Next time, if you see somebody on the way to or from the library, smile very broadly and tell them how lovely it is that the weather is so nice today and how beautiful the lake looks when it captures the sun – even if there is just a tiny bit of sunshine around. They might think you’re crazy but chances are you will make their exam preparation seem a little less gloomy and make them a little bit happier! It might sound very cheesy but I have come to realise here that it is really those little friendly remarks that can make all the difference.
Sunny wishes to Zurich,