Sunday, May 26, 2013

Entering 3rd year of PhD

Time has flied so fast that now I am entering the 3rd year of my PhD. After upgrading myself at the EDIT 2013 school at KEK and J-PARC, I am back in ETH taking some courses to improve myself and also spending time on teaching the advanced student laboratory. At the same time, since a postdoc from PSI is leaving to the United States, I was travelling a lot to PSI to have more discussions and had some kind of technical and knowledge transfer about one of the projects that I have to take over from him. It was a waste that I didn't spend more time before, to work together with him. However, that whole month was really fruitful and I had a better idea of how this project is going forward.

Not related to my PhD but on 5th of May, there was the 13th General Election of my country. As I have already went back during the Chinese New Year, I have decided to vote by postal and therefore one week before the election, all the students went to Bern to vote at the Embassy of Malaysia. The voting process was not so complicated and there was around 30 people who were there deciding the future of our country. And we were following the announcement of the results the next week while having party at one of the students' house. The outcome was disappointing for a lot of people but it was moving into a good direction I would say, as a democratic country.

Something worth mention about this year was that, IT IS REALLY COLD! Seriously, the weather has been very cold (than normal years) since October last year, and while other European countries are having > 30 degrees, it was around 10 degrees in Zurich. And during a long weekends (+Monday), I escaped with my gf to Milano and Cinque Terre in Italy, because the weather forecast said that it WILL BE SUNNY over the WEEKENDS!

It turned out that the first day in Milano was rainy but not so bad. I had to spend 4 hours taking a train there though. However the shops over there were too high end that I managed to buy only the postcards and an Italian basic conversation book. Looking at how people spending their money, I was very suspicious about the economic crisis mentioned in the newspapers. Next day in the morning we took the early train departing to Cinque Terre, the town Monterosso to be exactly, which takes about 3 hours. On the way the train went through Genova and started from there we had a nice view of the coast from the train.

As we arrived at the Monterosso, the first town on the North of Cinque Terre (5 villages), we were overwhelmed by the tourists, mainly coming from America. But still, it has been a long time we have been to a beach and we completely forgetting about the other tourists. After checking in, we took the train departing to the last village, Riomaggiore. Unfortunately, it turned out that there was a landslide a few days before and they have closed the hiking trails linking the 5 villages. So we had to take a train from there to the 4th village from the north, Manarola. And this was the best of all, and one of my favorite travel locations so far. The sky was super blueish and the seafood in the restaurant was perfect, if not too much. We couldn't eat until the next day basically, after having 6 appetizers, 2 main courses, fine wine and desserts as lunch sets they offered.


Then we spent some time walking around the village and took some nice pictures. And if you like photography, this is definitely the place you should visit in the future. Afterwards, we went to the other villages as well and there were very nice as well, although not as much as Manarola. Then after having a night walk in Monterosso with delicious local ice creams, we were completely exhausted. The next day, we spent about 8 hours on the trains, with a break at Milano while waiting for the train, and finally reached Zurich in the night. 

This trip was really random but I am glad we have made it! :)