Tuesday, May 27, 2008
More on my weekend at the National Jodelling Competition in Luzern later...!
And if anyone plans on visiting Zurich, let me know and I'll try to show you around as much as I know (sorry, no German-speaking services offered).
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Oopsy-daisy, here I come, from four days in style-savvy street-happy lively London with, suprise surprise, sunshine. Off the plane in Zurich, through the empty (is Switzerland really that small??) "modern" airport (concrete, a rustic architect's nightmare), ready to use my entire suitcase and backpacker's backpack, (quiet, you minimalist packers sniggering in the background!) of clothes and sheets (yes, it was necessary). I am ready to present myself afresh to a new culture, a new life, a new skill set, a new living situation, and maybe even a new self.
From Zurich to Bern, the trains are sharp, on time, everything Swiss except the cows and the cheese. One hour and I'm in the station. Waiting, watching as the people walk by-- some conservative, some barcelona-esque in their youthful hair and edgy clothes, most in the grown-up version of college wear-- sniffing the wafting scent of a waffle cookie demonstration to my left, not sure if i can just pick up a piece and try it, not sure what to say for please and may i, even though i know that much German and more. Waiting. then my new roommate and I are off through the streets of my new home, Bern/Berne/Berna, a city with the feel of a town, a capital you find right in your neighbor's backyard. It seems that most of its 130,000-odd people make their way to the train station mall each night, but none of them make it back out. The streets are oddly quiet. no horns, no whizzing cars and revving motoped motors. only swiss/naturalized-Swiss/behaving like Swiss drivers moving with decorum. But the station... chaos!!! bikes cross every which way in hordes; crowds of pedestrians swarm around them like gnats flitted by a hand. Cars edge through, sometimes diverted around the entire station. Bern is getting a facelift and tummy-tuck to come up to the glamour of the Euromeisterschaft 2008 Schweiz-Österreich, the European Cup 2008 Switzerland-Austria. And the glamour will come. I can't wait!
My first day at the ISPM. Dr. Egger and Dr. Low (although I have to stop myself from calling them so and push myself to use their first names) introduce me to my life's labor for the next three months. "Are you sure you don't want something else, because this project is very important." I am overjoyed that I agree with them and promptly start the necessary dive into meta-analysis and its inner-workings. My pile of books grows with Statistics, Meta-Analysis, and Epidemiology primers while my pristine desk (although dusty by Swiss standards, but hey, who's complaining) finds happiness in a bath of research articles, data extraction sheets, literature search summaries, teamugs, pens, my handy swiss Natel/Handy (cell phone) and spoons and spoons of lactose-free yogurt (mmmm, peach...).
It's a long haul from knowledge-base big fat Zero, what is a chi square please?, to ah, yes, make sure you have independent study selection and that you extract follow-up time, population size, and as many raw numbers as possible. My patience grows thin as my confusion grows fatter, but Nicola and Matthias check on me often and Nicola sits through my questions and feeds my growing epidemiology brain.
Weekends are sublime. no work. new place. exploration is a plus. With a Gleis 7 i travel free on the Swiss train system SBB (Schweizerische Bundesbahner) from 7pm-5am, and with my "half-days" card i pay half-price on swiss train tickets to anywhere in the country. ANYWHERE. what does that mean? Why am I still sitting here in Bern with only a few Swiss destinations checked of my "to-visit" list? ah, yes, i must work and work well. ah, yes, i must lead a semi-normal life, try to sleep at night, and have some down-time to let my travel-weary body rest.
3 weeks later and here's what I can count:
One amazing hike up the Niederhorn via Beatenberg
Two incredible friends from work
Three stops from Bern and back: Zurich city tour-Zug birthday party-Einsedeln monastery town and proud bakers of a molded bread which looks nice but turns to styrofoam on the palate
Four moves from my first apartment to eventually a colleague's house
Five hours on the road, in St. Gallen, and back for a sunset bbq in a friend's apartment
Six hours to Stuttgart and more to Hamburg for a weekend with my uncle and cousins
Seven days a week to think of my family at home, the friends I haven't seen for such a while, and the amazing time I had in Freiburg with more of my family.
Many moments a day to thank God for keeping me intact through the whirlwind of the last month. craZY! and let's skip ahead in the count...
30 days of unending, put me in a hole and dont forget to wring me out when it's over Regen. La Pluie. La Ploggia...Rain.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Saturday, May 17, 2008
As for research, I've spent a lot of time shadowing the graduate students and seeing all the neat equipment they have. All the machines are very high quality; I used to think only industries could afford this caliber, but I guess my home-school just doesn't spend enough of it's own huge grant on research equipment. Anyway, I have a fairly good idea of the project I want to do using nickel nano-wires that I made back in the US, on a setup similar to one being done here at ETH now using carbon nanotubes. Which reminds me, the department I'm with had it's annual Industry Day last week, and there we heard speeches from various big industries (ABB, Siemens, etc.), and also from Dr. Iijima, who is pretty much the Dr. Watson of nanotechnology as he is credited with discovering the carbon nanotube. So that was exciting. That and seeing all the projects here has actually made me seriously consider applying for a Masters degree or more here at ETH. That is if living in Zurich becomes more affordable for students!
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Hello, my name is Ryan Pei and I am a rising junior at
ETH itself is a beautiful campus, located on a hill overlooking the city and the lake. It has buildings throughout the city, sort of like the universities I’ve visited in
There is a lot of advertising for the upcoming 2008 Euro Cup. They seem pretty serious about their football around here. It’s a good thing the Olympic Games in
I can’t wait to see the rest of Zürich. Apparently there is a work holiday this coming Monday, so I will probably use this longer weekend to explore the city.