Week 5: Involving lots of coconut milk

Our final week of relative freedom before the start of our physics classes officially was rather uneventful. Upon inspection of my camera roll, I realize that my sole new photo from this week is from my morning run around Lake Geneva on Wednesday (featured above). Dan and I learned a lot about the longevity of coconut milk, we were treated to a lot of free food, and our beloved French class came to an end.


This week

On Monday, I started working on my CERN project! (Spoiler alert: muons are really cool!!) I learned that I can do a lot of my work from home, which saves me two hours of commuting.

In French class on Tuesday, Mina brought in a cookie cake as a token sample of American food for our instructor, which led to a lengthy discussion of American food. She confirmed our suspicions that chocolate chips, brown sugar, black beans, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are not common in Switzerland. Taco Bell or Chicago-style pizza are also non-existent. Thank goodness they still have coffee here, else I’d be forced to abandon by culinary identity for six months.

That night, our French instructor and the beginners’-level French instructor hosted a French movie night in the common room. They brought an abundance of Franco-Swiss food, including bread, cheeses, meringues, cake, chocolate mousse, wine, crepes, fruit, and even a chocolate fondue fountain! I most enjoyed the Brie with piment—the closest Europe has come to spicy cheese. And the meringues with double cream were delicious as well.

We had another night of free food on Wednesday! That evening, our BU staff in Geneva treated us to a night of Swiss food, including even more cheese, pickled vegetables, and various charcuterie. There were also three Swiss wines (“the best”, according to our totally-unbiased Student Life coordinator) for sampling. Many of us agreed that the previous night’s French cheeses were superior, but free food is always welcome.

On Thursday, Dan and I wanted to make our red Thai curry chicken from last Sunday again, so we found an Asian store after class where we could buy coconut milk. Having used up all of the small box we had purchased on Sunday, we were excited to find a liter of it at this market. Once we opened it, however, Kavi (who has much more experience cooking with coconut milk than we) informed us that coconut milk doesn’t keep well so we should use up the rest of it as soon as possible. So, on Friday, Dan and I used the coconut milk to make a curry soup with green beans and sweet potato. It was delicious and flavorful, but it was our third dinner with curry that week (not counting leftovers!) and we still have coconut milk left….

Friday was also our last French class. I’m relieved that it’s over, but I will miss our wonderful French instructor, our classes’ lengthy discussions in French about American politics, and French snacks accompanying our lessons.

On Saturday, we went grocery shopping in France and then I spent the rest of the day working on my physics presentation due on Monday. Each student in our CERN computing class must choose a particle or theory from particle physics, research it, and present a 15-minute lecture on its history and significance. I chose the muon, an awesome lepton whose technological applications drew my attention. As I mentioned above, I’m also working a lot with muons in my CERN project. (Muons are really freakin’ cool and I plan on writing a blog post about them soon.)

Sunday morning, Dan and I went for a run around Lake Geneva. Running again today was a questionable decision since my calves were still sore from Wednesday’s run. I have now resorted to an awkward limp-hobble to get around the dorm because my calves are in so much pain. I could really use a foam roller right now….


General updates

My love affair with peanut-flavored cheetos has slowly waned. I used an evidently too-effective strategy to keep myself from eating them and stowed them in our kitchen. Now I just forget they’re there and eat chocolate instead.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the first floor is the ideal location: we’re closest to the kitchen in the basement, so leftover breakfast food is easily accessible; we are a short walk from the study rooms where we can find communal school supplies and handy Swiss travel guides; we don’t need to wait for the tiny elevator to arrive just to go up to our rooms. The only downside is that people hanging out in the basement come to our kitchen to use our corkscrew, bottle opener, paper towels (which we have to buy ourselves), and even our mop. Despite those small annoyances, I still stand by #firstfloorbestfloor.

Instead of “Bless you” in response to a sneeze, Swiss people say “santé”, which is French for “health”. Santé (the shortened form of “À votre santé!” which means “To your health!”) is also used in lieu of English’s “cheers!”

Every morning on the way to school, we are serenaded by anywhere between one and three musicians who make their living by playing their instruments (guitar, accordion, violin, even singing) for commuters on the tram. This phenomenon seems to be very common in Switzerland. Kudos to them for subway-surfing and playing music at the same time.


Coming up

This coming week marks the beginning of UniGe classes! On Tuesday, we have our first quantum mechanics lecture; Wednesday is the first electricity and magnetism class, and we have a few more hours of physics lecture on Thursdays. I’m really excited to finally meet other Swiss students, but I’m absolutely terrified to start taking physics classes in French. I feel entirely unprepared.

On the bright side, we have no classes on Mondays and Fridays! These days are designated for working on our CERN projects and that is what I plan to do. Nevertheless, it will be nice to not have to go into class every day.

Also…Dan and I are going back to Paris!! We’ve booked our tickets and Airbnb for mid-May. More details to come!



Maddie 🙂


P.S. I recently talked to my sister and she told me she hasn’t been keeping up to date with my blog posts, so to Rhiannon: text me when you read this so I know! 😉


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