View from the Grössmunster bell tower
When I studied German in high school I was always confused by the word glück. It means happiness and luck and I never knew when to use one or the other. It’s most often translated as “happy.” But how do you say you’re lucky? I asked my host and she gave me very thoughtful response to what the difference between luck and happiness was in general. And when I asked if the different meanings—luck and happiness—are held within the same word in German, after a pause, she said she thought that yes, they were used in the same word: glück . You say you ‘have glück’ (haben glück) to indicate luck and when you are happy, you are just glücklich.
Isn’t that interesting? Maybe it means you are always lucky to be happy and that you should always be grateful because it’s just by chance that you are happy. Maybe we put too much emphasis on having bad luck in English.
I think I’m going to call this the summer of glück because I have never felt so lucky—or happy.
I’ll start in the beginning. The semester came to an end in a very messy whirlwind. I think most of my classmates were finished with their finals by May 7th. I wasn’t even halfway done! I had three more final project due all the way up until May 13th and you can bet your bottom dollar I was not far along on those said projects. So I was balancing finishing school work, saying goodbye, packing up my apartment, and preparing for a summer abroad in 1 week. I won’t go into the gory details, suffice to say after a series of long nights and the help from tremendous friends in packing up my things (NEMA!), I’m writing to you in from my adorable room in Zurich.
I do want to mention that before I left I attended an AIGA Fellows Award ceremony celebrating one CMU’s professors, Dan Boyarski. I haven’t had him as a teacher, but his reputation proceeds him as infinitely generous person and brilliant teacher. And it’s only the impression that’s been repeated in each interaction with him.
He gave the most incredible thank-you speech you could imagine. It wasn’t just a thank-you speech, it was a speech for design through gratefulness and said with such heart that the whole room was affected by his words. Like I said, I don’t even know him very well and I almost started tearing up. It was so powerful and passionate and revealed so much of his spirit that I was enamored. I wouldn’t have wanted to take notes even if I would have remembered, I only just want to remind myself here of his embodiment of a good person and a good designer as I start out of my own design adventure. He told us to remember what we were doing is important and to work like it is.
Ok, and now to Switzerland. I have actually been procrastinating this post because there is so much to talk about. But I’ll be brief!
First of all, to solidify that I am the luckiest duck there ever was, just look where I’m staying:
It feels like I’m living in a fairytale it’s so lovely. I don’t think there’s a word in any language to express how much I adore everything about where I’m staying and the gracious host that let me stay here. I am hoping that photos can say a thousand words and these two pictures of daily breakfast experience help you see how lucky I am. My cynical-gemini side rarely lets anything escape my imagination, but this little abode is so much better than I could have imagined. It instantly felt welcoming. And where I’d like to be.
Do you know what I mean about summer of glück now?
So I only had four days between the last day of semester commitments and the first day of work, so I had to make the most of them here! So far in Zurich I have…
…Visited the Landesmuseum, one of the Swiss national museums. Conveniently located right by the central station. Ok, I’ll admit that I was not to excited about a Swiss history museum, but it totally won me over and I ended up spending about three hours there. I was totally smitten with this incredible, giant, and wonderfully designed scrapbook made by a man named Karl Mitzkat.
This photo does not do it justice. Karl designed and arranged every single page including extremely impressive hand lettering in a variety of styles. I don’t know why the museum chose to show this page out of all the beautiful pages in the book (it’s not even about Switzerland), but suffice to say it was interesting enough for me to go through ever single of the 200+ page, life-size, digital book they had for guests. (It’s probably around two feet tall).
….the museum also had an exhibit on—what would you know—glück! 1900-1914. Expedition ins Glück, or, as they explain it: “A foray into happiness.” We weren’t allowed to take photos inside, but it was basically an extensive exhibition on the different things that showcased the happiness of that time. Here’s how they’ve described it:
It was an era that gave rise to the avant-garde, the breaking down of gender roles, groundbreaking inventions, increasing prosperity, investigations into the unconscious, and a misguided belief in lasting peace. Although ‘the new’ triggered a surge of euphoria, under the surface there were feelings of insecurity and fear.
The exhibition explores this rollercoaster of feelings — of exhilaration and being overwhelmed, which has parallels in our own time.
…I also went to the Kunsthaus, one of the major art museums in Zurich. It was super lovely and I spent a long time in their impressive modern/classic-modern/impressionist rooms. I learned that Paul Klee, one of my favorite artists, is Swiss. Who knew? :).
…Visited the flea market in Helvetiaplatz, which was so fun! Also dangerous for me as well.
…Another future Google intern invited me to have dinner with him and his friends yesterday, which was so lovely! It was a little out of my comfort zone, but I was so glad for the invitation. Of course all of his friends were lovely and it was so nice to meet all of them. Many were current employees, some future interns, and some friends from school (almost all engineers). They spoke near perfect English and were kind enough to speak it for my sake. It only re-motivated me to get better at German though. There is also another German guest that is staying at my house right now and it’s been really fun to try and speak with her during the breakfast. Well, difficult for me since I’m so bad at speaking German, but fun to try.
….I’ve been buying very cheap meals and eating them by the river to save money.
…today I visited both the Fraumünster and the Groessmünster cathedrals, including a lovely trek to the top of the Groessmunster’s bell tower to take photos. The Fraumunster has stained-glass windows buy Marc Chagall that are so fanciful. No pictures allowed, unfortunately.
Until next time!