The beginning of my three day weekend, after four days of classes in Switzerland, marked a period of serenity and exploration. At the start of the weekend, my plans were not concrete, but I knew I wanted to use my Eurail pass to travel to either Bern, Como or Luzerne.
After doing some research and exploring my options, I settled on Grindelwald-First an all-day extravaganza near Bern. With the help of the Steger Center manager, Daniella, I arranged my travel for the day and prepared to wake up at 5 a.m. to catch my train at 6:09 a.m.
While seated on the train and watching the beautiful Swiss mountains pass before me, I thought about my friends and fellow Hokies who were traveling to Cinque Terre, Paris, and Rome. I took naps on the trains as the cars filled up and the morning turned into the afternoon.
I stepped on my last train before Grindelwald in Interlaken Ost and saw a young man who was in his early twenties. We noticed each other, but we didn’t speak. As the train began to pull out of the station, he asked if anyone was sitting in the seat across from me. I told him, “No” and he took the seat.
For a few minutes, the energy felt like we both wanted to speak but chose to remain silent. I initiated the conversation by offering him a piece of gum which he politely turned down. Moments after we were getting to know each other and talking about our backgrounds.
Nicky is from Thailand and has a degree in hotel management. He’s currently interning at a hotel in Paris this summer and was traveling to Grindelwald-First for the weekend.
At that moment, we both decided that we would spend the day together since we had originally planned to go there alone.
We disembarked from the train in Grindelwald to begin our adventure together and stopped at a restaurant for lunch while walking through the village. During our journey, we rode the gondola together up the mountain, took flight through the Swiss Alps on a zip line-like activity, and used mountain carts to travel around the mountain.
Nicky and I spent the day together enjoying each others company as if we had known each other all of our lives. He taught me to be open to the idea of starting a friendship with a stranger in a foreign country.