(Some Taylor Swift lyrics in the title to celebrate her music finally being released on Spotify and other streaming sites.)
Finals season is in full swing so shenanigans have significantly decreased. I, fortunately, don’t have my final until 27 June so I was able to afford a few moments to enjoy myself this week….
I’ll start with Sunday since I didn’t write a general update for last week:
I went on a hike on Mont Salève with the new summer students. (Kavi, Casey, Peter, and I were the only physicists willing to give up a precious day of studying for the adventure.) Our group of 21 took the téléphérique (cable car) both ways this time (significantly faster than our five-hour hike up from a couple months ago) and at the top, we were split into three teams for an orienteering (aka navigating) exercise. We were given a map and a compass and told to find eight clues on the top of the mountain.
My team didn’t really use the compass and we ended up mixing up some of the clues, so we did not “win” the orienteering challenge. 😦 We also had a lot of trouble finding the final stop (not our fault, someone stole the trail markers), but it was fun! We got to see stunning views of Mont Blanc in the distance and we learned a lot about the flora and fauna of Salève. We even saw real live cows! And yes, they do actually wear cow bells.
Monday was everyone’s final presentations at CERN. Only Mina was not there (see below). We spent 2.5 hours going through 15 PowerPoints outlining our projects and the progress we made throughout the semester. The BU professor who started the entire program came to see our presentations and bought us lunch from the CERN cafeteria afterwards! It marked the beginning of the end of our time at CERN….
I still have plenty of work to do with my project, but our last official assignment for our CERN internships is a written report summarizing all our work here, essentially an essay-version of our final presentation. That paper is due the day we leave (3 July) and I have yet to start….
The rest of the week was overshadowed by finals studying. Most of my classmates buried themselves in their books in futile attempts to prepare for their hellish electromagnetism final (the class I thankfully dropped two weeks into the semester). By the end of the week, I finally buckled down and began preparing for quantum mechanics.
Mina went back to the US to attend her brother’s high school graduation (read about mine here!) and returned on Wednesday bearing gifts of American goodies:
On Thursday, after the infamous final, Dan and I went to the Musée d’ethnographie de Genève, Geneva’s Museum of Ethnography, for their exhibit on Aboriginal art, L’effet Boomerang. Dan is fascinated by boomerangs and their promotional posters (featuring a photo of a boomerang, plus the name of the exhibit) drew us in. The museum itself is free (as are many museums in Geneva) but this special exhibit cost us 6 CHF each to enter.
It was not quite what we expected; instead of a history museum-like spread of glass cases filled with Aboriginal tools (and boomerangs), it was mostly paintings and other art made by the natives of an island just off Australia. Of course, there was a case of boomerangs and Dan made sure to take a picture with it:
After the museum, we went to Taverne de la Madeleine, a restaurant on Rue de la Madeleine on the edge of Geneva’s old town. I’d been eyeing this restaurant since the program began and I was excited to finally try it. Unfortunately, the food was pretty average for the price (about 20 CHF per dish, but that’s typical of Geneva). Still, it was necessary that I try it sometime, so I’m glad I did.
On Saturday, Dan and I went grocery shopping in France for the very last time… *sniffle* I had a loyalty card ‘n everything!
In all honesty, though, we won’t be too torn up if we never saw this supermarket ever again.
No one in Europe seems to use reusable water bottles! Nalgenes and Camelbaks are staples in America, especially among students, but everyone here seems to be content with refilling a plastic cup throughout the day. Both at UniGe and at CERN, the norm is for people to use one small cup and return to the water cooler multiple times instead of filling one plastic water bottle two or three times daily. (One UniGe student even asked me to refill his cup from my bottle during lecture.) Maybe sustainability isn’t pushed as hard here as it is in the US (hard to believe since we can get fined for putting the wrong plastic in the recycle bin) but reusable water bottles aren’t commonly available. (The CERN gift shop doesn’t even sell a CERN water bottle, which is the true tragedy.)
The difference in summer attire here is incredible; Europeans truly do dress differently than Americans for the warm weather. Locals wear an incredible number of layers in all types of weather. Scarves and sweaters seemed natural in the winter, but people didn’t let up even as the temperatures started rising above 70 degrees! Modesty seems to be the theme of the continent: long pants, full sleeves, sweaters, and/or jackets. All. The. Time. Younger people dress slightly more similarly to American youth—but this is usually common only if they’re walking around the lake and going swimming or sunbathing.
I just don’t get it. I seem to experience all extremes of weather very quickly: I get cold as soon as it dips below 40 and I’m sweltering above 80. So I’m somewhat mind-boggled that so many Europeans can walk around completely covered while in full sun.
While they can probably tell I’m American when I wear short-shorts and tank tops (I can spot other Americans by the way they dress now), at least it’s not socially-unacceptable to dress this way. It just seems to be a different norm.
Tomorrow morning, bright and early, a group of six of us leave for Marrakech! We’ll be there for two days and two nights, returning to Geneva on Wednesday morning. So far our plans include a sunset camel ride, browsing local markets, finding Internet at exactly 2pm Marrakech-time on Monday in order to buy tickets for John Mulaney’s Kid Gorgeous tour, and not dying of the 100+ degree heat.
This week, I also bought a train travel pass that allows me unlimited travel through Switzerland for two days! I plan on using it on June 28-29, the two days between my final and our farewell dinner. Right now, I want to visit Interlaken and Luzern and stop by Zurich and Bern again. Dan and I also want to see Zermatt together, but that will probably have to wait until July 1. We might even stop by the Montreux Jazz Festival that day on the way back….
Finally, Happy Father’s Day to the best father in the entire universe!! Thanks for supporting me through all this crazy physics stuff (and everything else in life). 🙂 I love you!!