Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Summer School on Nursing Advanced Quantitative Methods at Basel, Switzerland

I really had a fabulous time in Switzerland, even with my bad experience with the airlines and visa issues. The wonderfully opportunity to be in the summer school in Institute of Nursing at the University of Basel, Switzerland did refresh my head with the content of advanced quantitative methodologies, more importantly, gave me hands-on experience on SPSS, especially dealing with raw data and making it to be ready for data analysis. It is very intensive, however, comparing to the gained knowledge, everything worth it.

Through the final poster session, the communication with other students from other countries who had the similar research interests enriched my knowledge in medication adherence. Their work is very impressive. When I saw them using Help-hand in their clinical setting to monitor medication adherence and used it as an intervention tool, as well, I really opened my eyes to what is happening outside the U.S.

Everything's wondeful related to the support of ThinkSwiss and Summer School at University of Basel. I began to drink beer with my colleagues, to which I was not that used. Hanna, a master student from the Institute of Nursing hosted my stay in Basel. She's so nice and considerate. She prepared bicycles for another American student and me to travel to the summer school. Then, I realized I became a local person while I was riding a bicycle. She took us to the barbecue along the Rhine River, where I was introduced to Margret. She hosted my stay in Zurich after summer school, and planned my intensive two-day trip around Switzeraland by train. Living in Swiss family, I was very impressed by their organization of everything. Many cute things were designed to save space, they use every space for its purpose. The timing of the buses and trains is another impressive thing. We knew Switzerland is famous for its watch, but now we know it is also famous for being on time of all the buses and trains. Also, the planned trip by ThinkSwiss in Bern was wonderful, we have scoooters touring the city. I believe everyone has a great night at Bern, even Michelle and I missed the last bus to come back home, we made it back home by walking. Even we kind of worried about our safety, it turned out fine. Safety is also a positive part of Switzerland.
Deb, my fellow doctoral student, and I are both from University of Pittsburgh, same for the two professors teaching in the summer school. We all had some problems travelling to Basel. They had a hard time waiting for the delayed airplane. My major problem is the visa. I will share my experience to prevent other future students getting into the same problem. If you have U.S. passport, you won't get into any trouble as I did. I am a Chinese holding a Chinese passport, I travelled through Paris to Basel. Basel and Geneva airports are special, since these two airports have two sides, one in Switzerland, the other side in France. If I fly from Paris to Basel, I will land in the French side first, this way, I have to have a visa to France, which I didn't have at that time. I called the travel agency and Delta before I travelled, they said I would be fine, they didn't even know this international regulations. I bought my own ticket from Paris to Zurich and took the train to Basel, I didn't realize the same problem occurred when I planned to go back. The institute of nursing and their secretary are very nice to offer me phones to call some local places to tackle the problem. Finally, with the help of ThinkSwiss, I got the visa to France, even I found out they didn't check my visa when I came back in Basel airport. Since I arrived at the airport around midnight, I walked back and forth many times between two countries with legal documents, thinking of my hard time in making this travel. Anyway, that's the only bad part for my trip, I learned, cried and smiled again. I said to myself, how wonderful it is to come back.
Since I got my visa, and I have two days left in Switzerland, I went around Switzerland during these two days, I was impressed about the travel information, I could get maps of the city in each train station, they even told me where should I go for tourism purpose. I went to Interlaken, Top of Europe, Geneve, etc. I took the Glacier Express and went to the final destination where no vehicle is allowed. Switzerland is fabulous, I am sure I will come back in the future.


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