Summer is in full swing here in Zurich, and it’s not a typical one for me or the country. Although a record breaking heat wave has been sweeping through Europe over the past few weeks, I have not been out enjoying the numerous swimming spots around town as much as I would like. Instead, I’ve been working.
I guess you could say I have never really taken a summer off since high school. After each spring semester at MIT, I always managed to ship myself off to some new location for an internship. And yes, the internships were work, but the fact that there were no psets or overwhelming deadlines made the time feel more like a rejuvenating vacation than anything else. Summers were a chance to breathe and let the events from the year soak in.
Swiss universities have other ideas about how you should be spending your summer. While lectures finish in May, a majority of the exams take place in August. Consequently, the voices in my head warning me I should not to procrastinate on studying get the chance to nag me for two entire months. Additionally, I spent two weeks of the summer already at an intensive course learning X-ray synchrotron and other analytical techniques at the Swiss Light Source at the Paul Scherrer Institute. Spending days in the above 95°F heat with no AC and writing lab reports and presentations isn’t exactly a relaxing break (although the course was admittedly super interesting and practical for my research later down the road). Not to mention, I am working most days this summer full time in the lab, pushing to collect some quality data before September.
Most of the summer might be taken from me, and I may not get to swim in Lake Zurich as frequently as I hoped, but I feel more grateful than ever to be doing all of these things right now (okay, maybe not the studying for exams part). The research and learning opportunities I have here are so invaluable to me, and I can’t forget all of the hard work and the few gray hairs it took to get me to this point. As one of the decorations randomly hanging in my home in Michigan says, “I didn’t come this far to only get this far.” For now, I am happy to be making progress with my projects and building myself up for bigger things . The lake can wait.