Study Abroad 2011

I spent about two weeks traveling through Switzerland with SPU’s study abroad group. My FAVORITE place was Interlaken but I also really enjoyed seeing the history in Geneva. Everything in this section is all taken from photos and notes that I took while on the trip. I double checked the history to make sure my notes were accurate but everything written is directly from my old journal.  

Hiking in the Alps


Bouncing around Geneva and this is what I saw:

**Major lack of photos that have been lost**

**All notes are from study journal that I took around with me to each site**

St. Pierre Cathedral:

  • Swiss reformation church from the 12th century
  • Adopted home church of John Calvin – leader of the reformation
  • The history dates back to the Roman Empire
  • Three of the buildings are from the 8th-10th centuries
  • The present building is devoted to ecclesiastical use and and early Christian funerary cult
  • The other two structures were for public sacraments and church teachings

Vieille Ville – old town Geneva:

  • Middle ages: the bishops of Geneva had status of prince of the Holy Roman Empire since 1154
    • Counts of Geneva ended in 1394
    • The city became part of the Swiss federation in 1526
  • Reformation: home of Calvinism
    • The center of the Protestant Reformation
    • 1532 the Roman Catholic bishop of Geneva was forced to leave and not return
  • 18th century: French Revolution (1789-99)
    • Aristocratic and democratic factions took control of Geneva
    • 1789 France annexed Geneva and its surroundings
  • 19th century: The Great Council of Geneva insisted on taking all papal documents; offered no public aid for Catholicism
  • 20th century:
    • June 30th, 1907 was the separation of church and state
    • League of Nations was established in 1919

Red Cross Museum: It’s an independent volunteer-led organization that is financially supported by public contributions.

  • History:
    • Clara Barton and a small group of acquaintances founded the American Red Cross in 1881
    • The first congressional charter was in 1900 and the next in 1905
      • The charter remains in affect today – The purpose of the organization is to give relief and communication to members of the American armed forces and their families and to provide national and international disaster relief and mitigation
    • Pre-WWI: Water safety and public health nursing programs
    • WWI: There was major growth
      • 1914: 107 local chapters
      • 1918: 3,864 local chapters
      • The membership grew from 17,000 to 20 million (plus 11 million junior Red Cross members)
    • Interwar period: Focused on serving veterans and programs for safety training, accident prevention, home care, and nutritional education; also helped with major disasters such as the Mississippi River floods in 1927 and the drought and depression of the 1930’s
    • WWII:
      • 104,000 + nurses for military service
      • 27,000,000 + packages for the American and Allied POWs
      • 300,000 + tons of supplies sent overseas
      • 13,300,000 million pints of blood collected for the armed forces

Reformation Museum: The European Christian movement that established Protestantism as a constituent branch of contemporary Christianity led by John Calvin and Martin Luther


  • The “reformers” objected to the doctrines, rituals, and ecclesiastical structure of the Catholic Church
  • Catholics responded with a counter-reformation which reclaimed large parts of Europe (Poland)
  • Northern parts of Europe became protestant while the south remained Catholic.
  • Large new denominations formed – Anglicans (England), Lutherans (Germany and Scandinavia), and reformed churches (Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, and Scotland)
  • 1517: Luther’s “95 theses” was posted in the Wittenberg Castle church and became the foundation of the Protestant Reformation
    • Debated and criticized the church and the pope, but concentrated on the selling of indulgences and doctrinal policies about purgatory, particular judgment, Catholic devotion to Mary, and the intercession on the devotion of saints and the pope
  • The Treaty of Westphalia ended the European religious wars in 1648

United Nations:


  • November 15, 1920 – first League of Nations meeting; Geneva was the headquarters of the first political international organization
  • Palais des Nations for the League of Nations was created in 1936 – became powerless during WWII
  • June 26, 1945 there was a charter for the UN at a meeting in San Francisco that involved 50 countries and it was ratified October 24, 1945
  • The United Nations is a legacy of the League of Nations
  • There are six official languages which are English, Spanish, French, Russian, Chinese, and Arabic

Random Facts:

  • Cooperation in international law, security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and world peace
  • There are 192 member states
  • The main headquarters is in NYC
  • General Assembly: All of the states are involved and meet annually
  • Security Council: Goal is to maintain peace and security; there are five permanent members – China, France, Russia, USA, and UK; There are 10 non-permanent states that rotate every two years
  • Secretariat: Provides studies and information and facilitates the UN meetings.
  • Secretary General: Spokesperson/leader of the UN – currently is Ban Ki Moon of South Korea (2011)
  • International Court of Justice: Regulating justice system for the UN
  • Economic & Social Council: Assists general assembly in promoting international cooperation and development

Frolicking in the ALPS

Related imageThe hills are aliiiiiiiiive Related imagewith the AMAZING Swiss Alps! My study abroad group and I stayed in Interlaken for about 10 days and it is most definitely one of my FAVORITE places in the world. We hiked, ran, had campfires on the lake, went hiking in the alps, played, went canyoning, and LITERALLY had the best experience we could have possibly asked for. We stayed in a cute little cabin type hostel on Lake Brienz.

  • It is the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland

  • It has a population of about 6,000 people

  • The Aare River flows through the town connecting Lake Brienz and Lake Thun

  • It is one of the oldest and most popular TOURIST destinations in Swiss

    • Backpacking
    • Skydiving
    • Hang gliding
    • Paragliding
    • Skiing
    • Canyoning – which we were able to do for a day! We traveled through canyons, repelled off of cliffs, went cliff jumping, swam, and of course had cheese and beer


Once upon a time, in a land far away, was a princess who was…..most likely married off to some dude because of pressure from her family for the purpose of making babies. The end!



  • Chateau de Chillon is on the eastern end of Lake Geneva 

  • It consists of 100 independent buildings connected to what it is today

  • It was made popular by Lord Byron who carved his name into the castle

  • The history was outlined by three major periods

    • Savoy period (12th through early 16th century): The oldest written document from castle dates is from 1150; it says that the house of Savoy has been controlling the route along the shores of Lake Geneva.

    • Bernese period (1536-1798): The Swiss Bernese conquered the Pays de Vaud and occupied Chillon in 1536. The castle became a fortress, arsenal, and prison for over 260 years.

    • Vaudois period (1798-present): The Bernese left Chillon in 1798 at the time of the Vaudois Revolution. The castle became property of the canton of Vaud (1803). Restoration started then and continues through today. 

  •  Has inspired artists and writers such as:

Wine during a lecture….

Fribourg was the land of fondue, fondue, churches, and more fondue – oh and some other stuff…. I literally remember eating and drinking wine – and there was A LOT of wine – while listening to a lecture and I could NOT stop nodding off…. exhaustion, wine, traveling, rambling… well I did learn something! See the notes below:



  • Fribourg lies in the central plateau of Swiss

  • 1157: founded by Duke Berthold IV

  • 1481: became a member of the Swiss confederation

  • Social structures: there was a nobility and upper class until 1798 – after that there was the creation of the democratic structures

  • German and French speaking

  • Mainly Catholic, but open to other religions from the mid 19th century on

  • St. Nicholas’ Cathedral

    • 1283: construction began

    • 1430: completion of the church

    • 1490: completion of the west tower

    • 1512: it was ranked as a collegiate church

    • 1803: the church became the property of the state of Fribourg

    • It represents three eras of western civilization – gothic, baroque, and modern


A step back in time

Ballenberg is an outdoor museum that displays traditional buildings and architecture from all over the country. 

  • There are over 100 buildings that have been transported from their original sites

  • Some industrial and crafting buildings still operate to give demonstrations of traditional rural crafts, techniques, and cheese making

  • There are many farm animals on the grounds

  • Each building or house has been recreated to fit its time period

  • The represented regions are: Alpine, Bernese midlands, Bernese oberland, central midlands, central Switzerland, east midlands, eastern Switzerland, Jura, the Valais, Ticino, west midlands



I loved walking through the sites and feeling as if I had gone back in history and entered different eras. I also enjoyed seeing all of the cute little farm animals. 


Hallo from Bern! Did you know it’s the most expensive city in the world!? OK, that’s not true, but I didn’t realize a McDonald’s meal would be about $15. Yes, I ate McDonald’s – I was in college, don’t judge.


  • It is the fourth most populous city in Swiss (131,000 in 2011) and is a part of the 2nd most populous canton (state) of the 26 cantons in Switzerland.
  • In 1983 the historic town in the center of Bern became a UNESCO world heritage site.
  • It is one of the top ten cities for quality of life (2011).
  • In 1353 Bern joined the Swiss confederacy becoming one of the “8 cantons” of the formative period (1353-1481).
  • Bern invaded and conquered Aargau in 1415 and Vaud in 1536 – and other smaller territories – becoming the largest city-state in the northern Alps.
  • It became the federal capital in 1848.
  • The countryside was formed by glaciers during the most recent ice age.
  • The two closest mountains are Gurten and Bantiger.
  • BearPark is in the heart of the city for a small family of bears.
  • Take the Glacier Express to get to the outskirts of the city.