This is a little primer on how to meet people: 1. Be lost but don't look like it. 2. Be an automatic ticket machine klutz.
Story 1: Between the work in Kandersteg and my trip back to Geneva, I decided to spend the day in Bern. Bern is the seat of Switzerland's federation and has a population of about 1.3 million people. I got off the train, stored my bag in a locker at the station and set out to explore the Old City. Fortunately, most train stations in Europe are located in the heart of the original towns, so it is only a short walk to some of the city's most beautiful settings and buildings.
One thing that is a problem in Europe is free wi-fi...or any other kind of free internet connection. Since my family still is not ready for a complete communication black-out, I need to find internet to let them know I am alive and well in one of the most westernized places in the world. Now how to do that in the middle of Switzerland's capital city with no connections? Starbucks! Bless those Seattle natives who want to rule, well...at least the coffee world. And while I am not a coffee drinker, I do like the mocha frapps and the free wi-fi.
After the concoction and connection, I set out to see the churches, the famous Bern bears and the city. As I was studying the ups and downs of the map, I was approached by a young Asian woman asking if I knew how to get around town. Surely I didn't look that confident, but since we were both headed toward the bears, we decided to walk together. Hyobin is 23, just finished her 3rd year at university in Seoul and is heading to Southern Illinois U to finish her studies to become a teacher. She has been couchsurfing (shout out to Greg and Acadia) her way across Europe from early May through July.
She was a delightful walking companion and I learned so much about her family, Korea and couchsurfing. She is very excited to come to the US to school but thinks she will teach in Europe; she has fallen love with it. We enjoyed the skyline, the beautiful buildings, and the chiming of the 13th century Zytglogge (time bell) in the city square.
I promised to keep in touch by email. It was so nice to spend time with a young adult with all the confidence and love of adventure I see in my classmates. She will have so much to give her students when she finally has her own classroom of eager learners.