Friday, August 14, 2009

Heading to Switzerland

Welcome to my blog about my stay in and around Basel, Switzerland. I am a graduate student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where I have been working on a dissertation about symptoms with chronic heart failure. I was excited to be invited to an international summer school course the the Universitat Basel. The course is about measurement in health-related research. This course has come at a perfect time for me because my dissertation involves a number of different measurement issues. I am a registered nurse in the U.S., and I care for patients with heart failure. I am interested in measuring common heart failure symptoms (i.e., fatigue, depressive symptoms) that are frequently overlooked in both research and practice. I will be looking for correlations between the symptoms and several physiological variables. I'm hoping that I will meet colleagues who can advise me about my research, as well as introduce me to the culture of Switzerland.

When I arrived in Basel, the weather was very hot. The heat led me to seek some shade in the cafes along Schutzgraben (a street near the Universitat). Here I've meet people from many different countries - some of whom were on holiday, and others who were not Swiss but had come to Basel for education or for work. It was really interesting to hear stories about how these people came to be in Switzerland. The first impressive thing I have noticed is the extent to which Switzerland is very multilingual. I've found that many of the people I've met so far seem quite fluent in a number of languages, particularly German, French, Dutch, Italian, and English. I had a great time sitting in the cafes. But next I need to learn my way around Basel. I'm finding the winding streets of Basel very different from the city layout that I know in Chicago, IL. So I'm relying very heavily on my map. Hopefully, as the week goes on I'll become better with finding my way. And I also hope to learn more about the language and culture. Auf Wiedersehen!


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