Thursday, August 28, 2008

Hello All,

This is my last post in the thinkswiss blog.Had not been able to post for some time because it got really really busy in the last weeks in basel.
A few lines about the time after my earlier post.
The weeks went past very quickly, coz it was all very enjoyable.I went to Bern with all the think swiss guys, had a wonderful lunch, and went to the place of Einstein where he wrote his famous 5 papers. It was a rare opportunity and I certainly did enjoyed it, partly coz the trip was very well organized by the thinkswiss people(and ofcourse bern being extravagant in its beauty) and partly because I have been a fan of einstein for quite some time ;)...After the bern trip I came back to basel. Since the last days were approaching very swiftly, I decided to go somewhere which would be very basel centric. Therefore, along with my colleague I went to the museum of contemporary art in basel. The art presented was exceptional and it was kind of fun. Further, I had the opportunity to be in basel on the swiss national day. Apart from all the hustle bustle of the day, the night shone with the extravagant fireworks in the clear sky and they were awesome.

Thereafter, few days of work and then I headed back to chicago. The journey, fortunately went smoothly and I came back home...home sweet home..:)

I am now going to post the answers for the questions that Muriel sent me.

* Overall impression - Did your stay meet your expectations?

This is a kind of open ended question so I am going to divide it in two parts.

My first part of the answer would relate to the work. My overall work related impression was pretty good. All of the people that I worked with were serious dedicated professionals. The research experience that I got working with the guys at biosystems department, eth was exceptional. Ofcourse, I got what I expected.i.e. serious researchers doing serious science...and I Loved it.

Second part of my answer would be non-work related. MY overall impression of non worked related stuff was good as well. I wont indulge in details here, but I found Switzerland to be very rich in culture and nature and yes I found what I expected.

* Three positive points?

1) Swiss life, culture and its natural beauty. The environment it self had certain kind of soothing experience. May be it was the mountains and the running water, but it was all very good.

2) The people I worked with, were very dedicated professionals. The lab setups, the infrastructure and the system all seemed to be very appealing. I didn't even had any troubles with the IT department :D

3) The third nice point that I would like to point out is the size of the cities and their organization.I live in chicago and it is kind of huge place. Basel on the other hand was quite small town which was kind of easy to manage even though I had not lived there for long.

* Three negative points / challenges?
1) One of the challenge that I had to face many times, was that of the language. It was hard to communicate in english and even shop! :(....

2) Initially I had some trouble looking for a place to stay.May be it was due to the soccer games or not, I am not sure. But a colleague of mine joined the lab after the soccer games, but he was having trouble too.I don't know.

3) I didn't had this particular problem as such, but with the same style I live in the chicago, it is almost impossible to live on 700$ in swiss.(not to mention that half is paid after you come back home)

* How well were you coached and integrated in the research team?

I found my colleagues to be very professional, very dedicated and very knowledgeable in their fields. I had the chance to work with physical statistician and mathematicians and was integrated very nicely in the team. We had kind of weekly meetings and sometimes at other times as well and every one seemed to go along very nicely.

* Comparison (advantages and disadvantages) between your Swiss
and your U.S. research lab, research mentality and team.

I found the research team in swiss to be some how the team I work here with, in US. My team is very helpful always, with anything work related(not to mention non work) and fortunately I found the same in the swiss.

* Do you consider going back to Switzerland for studying, a Ph.
D. program, work or on vacation?

I am currently in a PhD program, but I may consider joining any post-doc position if I have to. however, I would be very happy to come back in the summers and do some more hard core summer research in Switzerland.

Last but not least, I would like to thank ThinkSwiss organizers, Swissnex, Presence Switzerland, and the Swiss Embassy in Washington. I had a wonderful and enjoyable expreience.....

Good bye :)

Fahad Saeed


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