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Laundry On Sundaes

Every beginning is only a sequel, after all, and the book of events is always open halfway through.

The past 2 weeks have just been a blur. I traveled to 2 new countries, finished my summer research project, gave my first ever presentation at a scientific symposium, won a prize at said symposium, flew back to New York, moved into my new dorm, and started classes for my junior year at Columbia. Whoa. That’s a lot. I know.. so let’s go through it bit by bit :)

The very night Yufei came to Vienna, we left on a night train for Munich. From then on, it was just a whirlwind of train rides jumping from city to city in Germany and Switzerland. So I think the best way to do this is just through the photos. Here goes!

Day 1

Munich, Germany:

Konstanz, Germnay:

Day 2

Luzern, Switzerland:

Bern, Switzerland:

Day 3

Spiez, Switzerland:

Klein Scheidegg, Switzerland (yes, that is snow on the ground):

Day 4

Lausanne, Switzerland:

Geneva, Switzerland:

These were the main places we visited besides some minor excursions by train or boat and some other places we didn’t get to explore at all due to bad scheduling (sorry Zurich!). In any case, I had an excellent time on the trip and was reluctant to return to Vienna and work (albeit for only 2 more days by then).

After wrapping up my research project and final presentation, it was time to present the fruits of my labours for the past 2 months to my fellow summer students, various other scientists at the Vienna Biocenter, and a panel of judges, including my own PI. I’ve only ever practiced my presentation once in front of some people from my lab, and 2 more times by myself, but I decided to not sweat it and employed my usual tactic of telling myself that it’s too early to panic until the very last moment, by when it is already too late to panic anyway. It didn’t quite work so well this particular time, and I was really very nervous before I went up to the podium. Thankfully, I was in the first group to go, so that after I finished I can breathe and relax for the rest of the day. I barely remembered anything while I was up there doing my presentation and had no idea how I did, until at the closing ceremony, where I was both shocked and honored to find out that I was awarded one of 4 prizes for the best project/presentation. I genuinely thought that everyone did a really awesome job on their presentations, so it was really a nice surprise to end my research project on this high note.

To celebrate our accomplishments and bid farewell to each other, the summer school had organized a lovely dinner for us at the uber-posh restaurant Palmenhaus, which is actually inside a greenhouse that’s part of the imperial palace. The ambiance was great in the glass and steel structure, a strange melange of modern and historical.

The food was excellent as well. For starter, I had the beef carpaccio, which was delicious.

And for the main course, I chose the salmon which was served with pumpkin. A rather odd pairing to me, but I think it worked well.

I very badly wanted to stay for dessert, but my flight was at 7:00 am the next morning and my bags were still very much not packed, so I had to bid everyone an early goodbye as I left dinner early. What a group of wonderful people who made my summer memorable. I miss them already.

Life was calling on the other side of the ocean, and less than 24 hours later, I was in New York again. Even though I’ve been here in the city for the past 2 years, I always have this strange sensation returning to it after having been away for a while. The new school year began before I can even take another breath, and now the first week of classes is already over.

I’ve had a lot of thoughts since I got back, but perhaps those would be better shared another day. I think this post has gone on for long enough already.

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