Friday, August 3, 2007

first impressions

so i decided to keep a little (photo) blog of my time here in zurich - hope you enjoy it!

on monday i arrived at zurich airport and went to the train station there to get my zurich city transport pass for the month. i got my pass and took a train into zurich. after that, i took a tram to a bus and then the bus to my stop. it was all really straightforward, the public transport here is great. very efficient, on time, and coordinated with the other modes of transportation, so you never end up waiting that long.

the people here at eth got me lodging at this guest house which is part of the waidspital (city hospital). i have to admit, when i got to the waidspital, i was kind of freaked out. it looked like something out of a movie. one of those movies that centers around an insane asylum. i'm not kidding. the walls were a dreary green and all the nurses and orderlies were dressed in all white - no colorful scrubs here. and everyone just kind of walked around very properly with no expressions on their faces.

so here's the first episode of my visit. prior to coming to zurich, i was told by the people coordinating my visit that upon arriving at the waidspital, i should go to reception and ask for "mrs. becker" who is the lady in charge of housing. so i went to the reception desk. this is what happened:

me: hi, my name is blah blah, i'm staying at the waidspital blah blah...mrs. becker?
the lady: go to house #65, down the street, to the right.

(i walk down the street, dragging my huge ass suitcase with me. i don't see #65. i go back to reception.)

me: hi, uh, i didn't see #65. where is it exactly?
the lady: just go down the street, #65. #65. #65.
me: uh, ok. i'll try again.

(i walk down the street again, with my bag. this time much further and i see #65. i ring the bell.)

me: hi,
my name is blah blah, i'm staying at the waidspital blah blah...mrs. becker?
mrs. becker: do you have a key?
me: a key? no, i was sent here from the reception desk at the waidspital. where do i get the key?
mrs. becker: get the key at reception. where you were.

(i walk back to the hospital. again.)

me: hi, mrs. becker says i need a key?
the lady: oh yes, here's the key. sign this form. bye.

what the heck? why didn't you just give me the key to begin with and spare me all this walking back and forth with my big bag? jeez. the helpfulness of swiss people is not off to a good start in my opinion.

anyway, i finally got the key, went to my room. the room itself is very bare and just like a dorm room (twin bed and a desk). i wasn't expecting much, but was still surprised to find that there's a community bathroom and shower that i have to share with the other people on my floor. it reminded me of freshman year in college.

i spent the rest of the day walking around zurich, getting my bearings.

the next day was my first day at eth. people here seem pretty friendly, but the lab seems a bit quiet. a lot of people are on "holiday." the building itself is a total maze. instead of numbering the floors like normal people, the swiss here labeled the floors by letter - A, B, C,'s taken me 3 days to remember whether going up or going down the stairs is going up or down a letter. you'd think maybe the first floor is A, second floor B, etc. but no. it's the opposite. my office is on floor E, the guy i'm working with is on F, and the labs are scattered on D, E, F, G. nice. the atmosphere here is very laidback. people get in around 9, leave around 5, and don't work on the weekends. today i went to lunch with two graduate students - one italian, one german. both spoke english really well and were all about enjoying lunch and then getting an espresso afterwards at a little cafe on campus. that was great, especially the espresso.

wednesday was swiss national day, and a holiday. it was a beautiful day and i was able to walk around zurich quite a bit and take in the sights (pictures posted). they had fireworks at night that went on until 12 or 1 in the morning, super loud.

my dad's in zurich this weekend. coincidentally, he has a conference in davos, switzerland during the week next week, so he's spending the weekend here with me in zurich. i'm looking forward to it, it'll be nice to have his company!

first impressions - zurich

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