Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Second Week in Zuerich

Hallo all,
I have been enjoying the city quite a bit. I have finally figured my way around, as well as the bus and train system. We were able to go on an excursion to the Rheinfall last week, which was amazing to see! It was unusually cold that day, but the view was worth it. It was also nice to see some of Switzerland's more agricultural areas outside of the city. The rolling hills and large wooded expanses reminded me of home (Northeast Georgia). We also visited the Zoo, which was great fun. Despite the construction going on, there was quite a bit to see. The animals were a bit cozy since the weather was overcast, but we still had a good time! We were also excited to find a good Greek restaurant (one of our favorite cuisines) in town not far from our apartment. My husband left for home last Saturday, so I have been exploring the city a bit on my own lately. One of my favorite places to walk around is the Zuerich Hauptbahnhof. There are always so many different types of people walking around--businessmen, families with children, elderly couples, teenagers, etc. It's one of the best people-watching venues I've found here.

There are a few things that have had to learn about this place, such as which way the doors open. It sounds very simplistic, but it's more elusive than one might imagine. At home, doors on the outsides of buildings usually open by pushing and the doors on the inside are usually pulled out. It is the opposite here, so I am still running into doors now and again. Luckily, I can laugh at myself. Another observation is that academics don't seem to clap after presentations, but instead beat their hands on a desktop. I don't know if this holds true for other people in the city, but it has also taken some getting used to. How to spot to American: they are the only ones clapping. The food here is great, though. And most people are friendly once they warm up to you. People typically keep to themselves, but I am not sure if this is a Swiss trait or a city trait (many people back home keep to themselves when in the city).

I look forward to really getting to work in our lab over the next few months, and I enjoy the people here at the ETH. I am also looking forward to my parents coming to visit me in November. They have never been to Switzerland, so I am sure that they will have a great time. It may be somewhat murky weather, but there are so many museums here that I doubt they will run out of things to do.

More soon!
Savannah Adams

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fall 2009 - First Week in Zurich!

Hallo to all of my ThinkSwiss friends!
I apologize for the slow posting—it has been quite the week getting set up here in Zurich to attend ETH for my studies! I arrived last Thursday and immediately was impressed with efficiency of the trains of the Zurich Hauptbahnhof. It is wonderful to live in a city and never really need a car to get around! I got to the leasing office and sorted out my apartment quite easily. I’m staying in the heart of Zurich on Militarstrasse which is only a few blocks from the Hauptbahnhof, Coop, Migros, and many other Zurich mainstays. There is also a bus stop down the street that takes me straight to ETH, where I will be studying NMR with the Meier group. My husband came with me to stay for a week since he has never been out of the US before and I think that this city has already won him over. We spent a day or two recovering from the time change and dealing with the practicalities of living elsewhere, such as grocery shopping and finding our way around the neighborhoods nearby. Grocery shopping is an interesting experience here in Zurich as I am used to having 24 hour stores at home. Here the shops are only open for a short while in the evenings and most people that I have seen seem to shop only for a night or so, making shopping at the market more of a daily ritual than a once a week stock-up. I find this appealing because I enjoy shopping for fresh produce more than most people enjoy shopping for anything.

On Friday we climbed to the top of the Groessmunster church tower to view the fantastic cityscape and we also got to visit the Fraumunster to see the famous Chagal stained glass windows. The weather here is beautiful and we have only had a bit of rain since we arrived. On Saturday we ventured out of the city to Luzern and then to the top of Mt. Pilatus via the cogtrain from Alpnachstadt. It was a gorgeous day and we were able to get some beautiful pictures. We also treated ourselves to some delicious Roestli (a Swiss potato dish). There were not many people when we arrived, but soon the platform along the mountaintop filled up with other visitors (and their pets!) to listen to the Alpenhorns. I enjoyed a quick nap in one of the public chairs before we headed back down in the gondolas. It was quite a day for me, especially since I am terrified of heights. It was well worth the trouble and I was glad to have made the journey! We were also able to visit the Swiss Federal Museum, of which it took us almost two days to complete a viewing of the large collection of historical artifacts!

Sunday was spent enjoying a walk around the city, as well as lunch at the Zueghauskeller near the Paradeplatz off of the Bahnhofstrasse. It was delicious! We helped ourselves to large helpings of their anniversary beer and Kalbsgeschnetzeltes, sliced veal in a mushroom and cream sauce. I started getting my situation at the ETH worked out on Monday and Tuesday, with obligatory forms and trips to key offices as well as being shown around the Science City campus by some lab members. It is a really nice campus, especially since it seems to be surrounded by farmland complete with sets of pastures with cattle and sheep nearby. An odd contrast to the highly industrial styled buildings of ETH, but it did seem to be a good partnership. This week has been quite busy thus far—attending group meetings and reading a lot to try to prepare for my studies here, but the lab members of the Meier group have all been tremendously helpful and understanding! I look forward to working with such an amazing group!

Until next week,
Savannah Adams