Ok so I feel like the title of this blog merits a little explaining…
When I moved to Geneva last September, my halls organised a welcome drinks for all the newbies. Obviously as a Brit, any occasion involving free food and alcohol was definitely worthy of my presence.
Naturally I ended up being late, and arrived to our basement common room about 30 mins late (I didn’t think this would be a problem as it was a chill get together). Clearly I was wrong.
I arrived, sweaty and flustered from cooking, in my slippers and baggy jumper, to witness what I can only describe as a speech being given to a group of fearful looking students seated in a circle. Somehow I managed to find myself a chair through the cloud of smoke (everyone was smoking cigars), but my tardiness meant that i ended up seated right at the front of the room and literally outside the circle of people!
The elderly man in a suit looked at me and my slippers in disgust (the French do not think that casual attire is “chic”) proceeded with his speech and began singing/ chanting to which our RA’s responded with more chanting and table banging to which we were all bemused.
— oh, I may have forgotten to mention this was all going on in French! —
More and more people in suits, berets, waistcoats and saches began to turn up mid speech (clearly there was a uniform to this event)
After 20 minutes of feeling insanely uncomfortable in my slippers I got up and escaped.
The singing and chanting continued through the early hours of the morning and was clearly audible from the basement to my bedroom on the fourth floor.
For the rest of the year, these meetings became a monthly occurrence and almost seemed normal.
I even asked my french friends about this during the year to which they all laughed and thought I was exaggerating!
It is only since returning to Edinburgh that I realise quite how odd these rendez-vous were.
To this day, I still have no idea what this brotherhood/ fraternity/ cult was for/is!!!
Truth be told, a year abroad will bring with it unique experiences that you will not forget!