Weeks 16 + 17: Various updates

This was my first free weekend in a long time and it’s been absolutely lovely. Almost every weekend of this study abroad program I have traveled somewhere—even if only a day-trip—and it has been totally exhausting.

Last weekend, I went to Barcelona with Mina and Casey (we had a fantastic time, blog post coming soon), the weekend before that was our day-long hike, and the week before that was spring break (blog posts still in the works!)

Looking back at everything I’ve done, I realize that I’m extremely lucky to be able to travel to all these magnificent places, and I want to continue to make the most of my time here. But it’s still tiring.

It was strangely wonderful to have a weekend “off”, to be able to lounge around the apartment for two whole days without a train to catch or a mountain to scale. I did a bit of journaling. I watched a movie. I cooked a lot of pasta. I relaxed.

(I did not, however, make as much progress on my travel blog posts as I wanted to… Oh, well. They’ll happen eventually, I swear!)

Aside from Barcelona, though, here are some updates from the last two weeks….


Home life updates

It’s been quiet since the 40 internship students left two weeks ago. Don’t get me wrong—the first few days were a little tense, but things have settled down since then.

That first Monday “alone” brought the most conflict. With the internship students on our floor gone, we had four newly-vacant cabinets in the kitchen. This led to quite a bit of disagreement over who had rightful ownership of the highly-demanded property, but we eventually found a compromise. Dan and I were able to claim two shelves and we finally had space to store our abundant canned beans and tins of tuna.

Behold: our new home!

We all also filled our new shelf-space with goodies scavenged from the upper three kitchens. These floors, previously occupied by internship students, were left for us to pillage once everyone had left on Monday. My haul included some pesto, half a jar of peanut butter, cookies, a couple cartons of unfinished ice cream, chai tea, beans for chili, and (hopefully) enough pasta to last the rest of the semester. Other notable finds include fresh carrots, lots of rice, various teas, a ton of spices, and a chicken carcass (for broth, of course).

Breakfasts have also been very quiet. Our morning routines vary enough that there’s usually only two or three of us down at breakfast at any given time. There was also a scary few days after the internship students first left when there wasn’t enough bread for all of us, but I think the issue has since been amended. (Ah, how quickly the world owes us something!)

The weekends have definitely been calmer. Living up to our stereotype, we physics students spent most nights of the past two weeks in the building watching movies or just talking in our rooms. (Recent screenings include Her, Up, and the 2017 Eurovision Final.) A small subset of us will venture out sometimes, but I personally prefer to stay home.

Culinary updates

A few weeks ago, Dan and I bought an enormous box of risotto and we’ve been looking for ways to use it up ever since. This week, we experimented with a recipe for tuna risotto (in order to also use up some of the many cans of tuna that we acquired after a recent sale at Denner). We are satisfied with the results:

Tuna risotto feat. roasted green beans

I finally found “spicy cheese” at a local farmers’ market and shelled out more than CHF 12 for a 0.315 kg chunk. (The ridiculously-high price was painful but I was getting desperate.) It is certainly the spiciest (and therefore, the best) cheese I’ve tried in Europe so far. (Spice aside, it really is quite good.) Unfortunately it’s going quickly so I’ll just have to enjoy it while it lasts because I can’t afford to buy anymore….


This morning, I took a break from my usual omelette to make a breakfast of fried eggs, chorizo, and home fries. It was a delicious and spicy start to the day.


Cayenne pepper has been my lifeblood in Geneva. As I mentioned in a previous post, Europe seems to lack any sort of actual spice and it’s killing my Chinese-Mexican palate. No spicy cheese (until this week), no spicy salsa, no spicy pasta sauce, and no Flamin’ Hot Cheetos (or even generic knock-offs)!!! I haven’t even found cayenne pepper sold in Switzerland; we bought a couple jars in France and my parents shipped me some in a care package.

The introduction of cayenne pepper into our cooking has definitely kicked up our food up a notch or two. Cayenne is the only thing keeping my tastebuds sane this semester. Its strong spice has added a layer of flavor to our chili, home fries, and roasted chickpeas (aka my latest obsession):

These are ~so addicting~, I can eat this entire bowl in one sitting.

School updates

Classes are just. Ugh.

I’m only taking one class now but I still can barely keep up. Quantum mechanics is very difficult to learn, especially in French, and lectures are really starting to feel useless. My French skills have not improved since the only time I use the language is in class or when I meet with my language-learning partner for an hour a week. For me to understand the lectures requires a lot of focus, but paying attention is always a struggle, especially during Wednesday’s class at 16:00. Following along in the textbook is my only lifeline right now, but lately that has proven to be inadequate when our professor strays from the material in the book and goes off on his own tangents. Sigh.

In short, physics is hard.

Work updates

I have another article published on the CMS website! This piece is about database software, originally developed for the CMS, that is now being used for business process management, neuroscience research, and other applications. Read it here!

(At the publishing of this post, there’s still a bug that means the sidebar menu doesn’t show up on this page. We’re working on fixing that!)

And, as always, feedback is welcome! I’d especially love to know if you find it accessible enough (i.e. Even if you don’t have a physics background, can you understand what’s going on?)

Also note that this section of the website has been renamed to “Knowledge Transfer” (previously “Technology Transfer”).

I’m currently working on two more articles, both of which will hopefully be published by June. I’m really excited about both projects so I hope I can share the finished products with you all soon!


General updates

Those plane trees are still blooming, slowly but surely!IMG_9306.JPG

Geneva has had a lot of rain lately (starting two weeks ago when the internship students left) and it looks like that weather trend will continue next weekend. Hopefully we can squeeze out a few sunny days this week, though!

The days are getting much longer… Now, in Geneva (a full 4 degrees of latitude farther north than Chicago or Boston), the sun doesn’t set until close to 9pm! On the summer solstice in about five weeks, we can expect it to be sunny out until 10:30 at night. I can’t wait!

On the flipside, the sun also rises earlier. For the past week I’ve been waking up before my 7am alarm, somewhat irked by the sunlight filtering in through our red curtains. While waking up without an alarm is generally a good thing, it doesn’t take away from the fact that I’m still tired….


Coming up

This Thursday, Dan and I are going back to Paris!! We’ve been wanting to return since our trip in February when I fell in love with the city and Dan reconfirmed his own infatuation. This time, we hope to see some of the sights we missed the first time around: the Catacombs, the Panthéon, Luxembourg Gardens, Sacré-Cœur, and the Eiffel Tower at sunset (which may mean waiting until 10pm at this point). I’d also like to sample some authentic French Madeleines and we’re both excited for more falafel.

Any Paris recommendations? Let me know in the comments!


Finally, Happy Mother’s Day to the Best Mom in the World, my wonderful, selfless, generous, hard-working, kind-hearted, determined, strong mother. ❤ I love you and miss you!

Mommy and me (circa 2014)


Until next week,

Maddie 🙂

3 thoughts on “Weeks 16 + 17: Various updates

  1. Dad

    Will you have a chance to make it to Lourdes to visit the Our Lady of Lourdes grotto and sanctuary? I heard that that site is amazing and powerful.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s