Monday, August 24, 2009
Summer School at the University of Basel
I was looking forward to this trip like you wouldn't know. I have not been to Europe before and this was the first trip ever to that continent. Growing up whenever somebody mentioned Switzerland I conjured up these beautiful pictures in my mind. Now, here I was taking my first trip to Europe and it will be in Switzerland.
My arrival point was at the Euroairport in Basel. I was so glad that international flights flew into this airport. I had a reservation for a hotel where a mobility bus card was included but I did not know how to avail of this at this point in the journey. I was vacillating between taking the green colored bus or taking a cab to the hotel. The cab ride won. Expediency over practicality. I paid approximately 37 swiss francs from the Euroairport to the Hotel Spalentor. Hotel Spalentor is situated a block or two away from the University of Basel. The hotel was nicely situated relative to the University of Basel.
The one thing that I did not anticipate was the weather. It was about 84 degrees Fahrenheit. The last time I looked online through weather.com it was supposed to be a low of 52 and a high of 74. This appeared to be not the reality and the only clothes that I brought was for cooler weather and I did not bring any for warm/hot weather. Hotel Spalentor unfortunately did not have any air conditioning. Anyway, enough about the weather.
Summer school itself was very productive. Dr. Jerilyn Allen and Dr. Miyong Kim from the John Hopkins University were very knowledgeable about their subject areas. They brought their knowledge and expertise in instrument development and testing. The University of Basel is an idyllic setting. The classrooms are large and comfortable. The AV equipment were also up to date. The two buildings we were in were the Kollegienhaus and the Biozentrum. The group of students were international in nature. There was good mix of students from the USA, Switzerland, Iceland, The Netherlands, and Belgium. This brought an international perspective to the development of instruments.
The city of Basel is quite beautiful. The Rhine river runs through the city and because of the warm weather you could see a lot of people jumping and floating in the river. It was quite an amazing sight. People were having a lot of fun in the river. The city is very walkable and the public transportation system runs well. The buses and trams are well synchronized. The expected arrival times for the buses and trams were also quite accurate.
The US students were also able to go to Bern. A big shout out to Marianne and Adrian. They were wonderful hosts for this part of the program. Both were amazing in their patience with us. The two of them were always pleasant and wonderful to be around with. They were very friendly and also great conversationalists. This helps make it easier for people in large groups to be more comfortable around each other. Especially if they just got thrown together for a few days to attend a one-week program.
Bern is also a beautiful city. A group of us were taken on a tour around the city - on scooters. No - not the motorized kind. These scooters were propelled by one leg. Get ready for a workout. The lady who took us on the tour was quite fit. She was just zipping through the Bern streets. This was a very enjoyable part of the Bern trip. It allowed us to go through the city streets and explore the small nooks and crannies of this wonderful city. Plus take lots of pictures from several vantage points.
I also had the opportunity to visit Zurich and Luzern. Both of these cities have their own charm. The boat ride on Lake Zurich was amazing. The views were just spectacular.
Luzern is also very charming. The sun setting casted this amazing hues on the surrounding mountains.
I also took the Glacier Express from Zermatt to Chur. This is a not to be missed ride. The scenery from the train is just spectacular.
This trip brought to realization my childhood impressions of Switzerland. Great country along with great people. I look forward to more opportunities to travel to Switzerland both personally and professionally.
One word about Switzerland - Amazing!