Before arriving at EPFL, I had very high expectations. I knew it would be a great experience, but I didn’t actually realize how much it would impact me.
Switzerland is one of the most beautiful countries I have visited. Although it is small, every town has something special to share. I especially love the culture in Lausanne. Weekends are spent barbecuing on the lake with friends, there is every sport you can imagine, and there are always festivals happening. I had the chance to go to Paléo, where I saw the Black Keys, 30 Seconds to Mars, MIA, and more incredibly cool bands. There is really something for everyone.
Apart from being a tourist on weekends, I had the wonderful opportunity to be part of a new lab at EPFL. The Laboratory of Renewable Energy Science and Engineering (LRESE) first opened in February 2013, and already they have made immense progress. Professor Haussener has been a great role model to me. Being a woman in such a high-level engineering field poses many challenges, and yet it is remarkable that she was offered a position at EPFL before she even finished her PhD. She has an energy and a passion for her field that is unparalleled, and is ready to extend opportunities to young students like myself which we would never get otherwise. This seems to be a fairly common mentality at EPFL, where instead of aiming for the older, more experienced researchers who have been in their field for decades, they look for young individuals who will bring new ideas to the table. In an environment abundant in resources, they can afford to take risks and give you the tools to get creative and take new directions. In three months, I saw the lab go from 5 members to 12. All of them are incredibly intelligent, passionate and knowledgeable about their field, and each one brings a special vibe to the team. It was a very enriching experience that permitted me to grow both professionally and personally, and hopefully has made me a better researcher for later on.
And finally, I would like to give a shout out to all the amazing people I met this summer. The interns that took part in the EPFL Research Internship program are more than a handful of people you will share a summer abroad with. These people will become professional colleagues in the future, and make up the first layers of an extensive professional network. As has been highlighted in previous posts, everyone in the group is extremely competent and skilled in their respective fields. If you need advice, or want to brainstorm new ideas, these are people you can turn to. What makes them different from your ordinary LinkedIn contacts, however, is that we all shared a unique experience over a whole summer. So even if you don’t speak to them for, say, 10 years, you will always have this summer to fall back on as an ice-breaker, and somehow I know it will always bring us together in the future.
Hiking around the Matterhorn in Zermatt, i.e. THE Toblerone mountain.
In two days I leave Switzerland for good. I will miss it terribly, but I look forward to potentially coming back to complete my master’s degree. So long Lausanne – see you in a year!
Christina Moro, McGill University
Laboratory of Renewable Energy Science and Engineering (LRESE), EPFL