My Last Week in Switzerland

It still hasn’t completely processed that this chapter of my life is really over. I’ve had such a wonderful time in Switzerland this summer and it will definitely be an experience I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I had a lot of fun during my final week. On Wednesday the entire lab went out to an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant for dinner. It was pretty expensive (about 50 francs per person) but you can get your money’s worth as long as you stuff yourself with as much sushi as possible. It was great hanging out with everyone all together for the last time.

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I learned so much from these amazing people this summer!
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I had the honor of adding myself to the official lab map, which shows the country of origin for all our past and present lab members.

On Thursday, I went with the other students on a cruise of Lake Geneva, which went from Lausanne to Montreux and back. The tickets included two free drinks, and we had a lot of fun dancing on the ship while admiring the beautiful scenery.

On Saturday, we went to Geneva to visit CERN, the home of the Large Hardon Collider where scientists recently discovered the Higgs boson. I loved geeking out at all the phyics. Visiting CERN has always been a big dream of mine, since for much of high school I planned to go into a career in physics, so it was great to have the chance to experience it even though my field of study has changed.

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The Dome of Science and Innovation, containing a small interactive museum.
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The control room where technicians monitor all aspects of the particle accelator.
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A mural depicting ATLAS, one of several experiments located at CERN.
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A representative model of the huge pipe that contains the particle beam.

Our final stop was to Gruyere on Sunday. I’d probably describe Gruyere as the most stereotypical Swiss town I’ve visited, so it was a nice place to end my time in the country. We started out at the factory where the famous Gruyere cheese is made, followed by a chocolate factory with unlimited free samples. Then we visited the town’s midieval castle, which had a lot of interesting history.

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Huge vats where the milk is stirred while curdling.
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The cheeses are stored for 6-12 months while maturing.

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The strangest “no dogs allowed” sign I’ve ever seen.

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At the end of the day, I faced a dilemma regarding my flight. I would need to arrive at the airport around 5am in order to be two hours early, and so I’d catch the train toward the airport at 4am. The problem is that there are no busses or metros running at 4am, and I didn’t want to walk with my suitcases to the train station by myself late at night. I also didn’t really want to go to bed, since I’d have to wake up around 3am. I finally decided to go out with my friends to MAD, which claims to be the best club in Switzerland. We had a lot of fun dancing together there and two of the guys walked me to the train station afterward, so everything worked out nicely. I can’t think of a better way to spend my last night in Switzerland.

As I sit here writing this post now, I am at my second layover in Detroit. I’ve been traveling for about 16 hours and haven’t gotten any sleep since Friday night so it’s a miracle I’ve been able to navigate all the airports and various security/customs desks while being so sleep deprived. My first layover was in Amsterdarm. Both stops have had a lot of security screens, since entering the United States has stricter travel policies than most other countries. I’m definitely feeling ready to collapse into bed.

I’d describe my current feelings as bittersweet. I’m very sad to be leaving Switzerland, with its breathtaking landscapes and fascinating history. I’m going to miss the wonderful friends I’ve made through the program and the opportunities I’ve gained working in my lab. There are plenty of sites and places that I didn’t have a chance to visit during this trip. At the same time though, I’m excited to reuinite with everyone back in the USA and resume work on my honors thesis at Ohio State. There’s also a chance that I could return to Switzerland next summer, since I’ve been discussing with my boss the possibility of him hiring me to continue my project after I graduate.

After a summer of adventures, it’s going to be strange to be back in my native country. I would defintely love to extend this trip for longer, but I’m still grateful for the time I’ve had. I think I’ve caught the “travel bug”, so I’m sure I’ll be back in Europe again some day!

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4 Replies to “My Last Week in Switzerland”

  1. I am glad that your last week was so memorable and that you are planning to return to Switzerland and Europe in general. Your photos are so beautiful, so I can see why you want to return. I’d love to go too.

    On the other hand, we are all so happy that your are back home and can tell us about your trip first hand. What an incredible experience for you. Welcome home.

    Grandma

    Like

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