This weekend I went on an excursion hosted by ThinkSwiss, the organization that funded my first month of research here in Switzerland. I caught the 7am train to Bern, the capital of Switzerland, and met up with around 20 other current ThinkSwiss awardees at the train station. After stowing our luggage, we journeyed to our first stop, the Office of Education, Research, and Innovation. Several representatives gave surprisingly interesting presentations for us about Swiss government and politics, Switzerland-USA relations, and the Swiss higher education system. It was clear that they were very hopeful for some of us to return to Switzerland for work or school.
After the prentations, we grabbed lunch and then experienced a guided tour of the historic city by scooter.
After our tour, we hopped on another train bound for Luzern. After walking around for a while beside the shimmering Lake Luzern, we enjoyed an excellent dinner at a local Italian restaurant. After a long day of travel combined with a heavy dinner, I had no trouble sleeping when we reached our hotel.
In the morning, we caught yet another train bound for the tiny town of Engelberg, where we rode a lift all the way to the 3000-meter summit of Mount Titlis. The ride took nearly half an hour, but we enjoyed beautiful views along the way. The final part of the ascent took place in a huge panoramic cable car that slowly rotated to give everyone views on all sides. It was strange to start out with over 80 degrees F temperatures at the bottom and step out at the top to 40 degrees F with snow. We had to gradually add layers of clothing during the ride up. After the heat of the day, I found the chill air at the top to be very refreshing. I also experienced mild altitude sickness for the first time, which apparently feels like being really drunk.
After spending a few hours at the top, a few other students and I decided to take the lift halfway back down the mountain and then hike the rest of the way down. It took about three hours and despite being entirely downhill was pretty strenuous, since descending at a sharp angle can take a toll on your knees after a while. Nonetheless I had a great time during our hike and felt invigorated from the exercise. We passed through lots of rolling green hills and serene cow pastures.
With the events of our excursion complete, everyone parted ways to return to their respective cities. By the time I reached Lausanne it was after 10pm and I was thoroughly exhausted. I barely had it in me to hop in the shower and rinse off the day’s sweat and grime before collapsing into bed. I truly had an amazing time on this trip, and the best part is that the adventure can still continue! The program provided us with a four-day travel pass, which allows unlimited transportation on all Swiss trains and busses during any 24-hour period you select. I used two of the days for this excursion, leaving two more free travel days that I can use any time before I leave the country. I’m excited to see what new wonders I’ll get to experience in beautiful Switzerland.