I know I have been due to write another update, but I've been fairly busy at work, and while that's not a particularly good excuse, I can't think of another one. It's almost seven o'clock here and fair time to start thinking about going out to buy groceries, because everything here closes at 6:30 but at 8 pm at the main train station.
Well, I've been in Zurich for about 1 month now and still there are many things that haven't gotten completely fixed. The folks at xxxxxxxxxx (the company that I'm working for) had gone through a lot of work to get me a working permit, but when I came to the customs desk here in the Zurich airport, they didn't even look at it. Worse, they didn't even stamp my passport, and that has caused a small number of problems which are slow to fix. Goes to show how loose the border controls here are, I guess. Even going to and back from Germany, my passport didn't see any activity...
Well, if I want to keep things short, I'll stick to the topic at hand. Well, Zurich is interesting. People have said that Switzerland is expensive (yes, you're right), especially eating out and buying gifts and such, but certainly foodstuffs for cooking are pretty reasonable. Transportation here is almost too good; you can get pretty much anywhere using a combination of bus, tram, subway and train -- which are all unified under one government system -- and the monthly pass is quite reasonable. I'm staying at Triemli, which is a small area to the west of Zurich's old town center. The building is a hospital dorm (for the hospital next door) for nurses and patients too, but they rent out rooms as well. The 15x15 room I have which shares a floor kitchen and bathroom is about $300 month (gasp, cheap!). I was shocked, it's definitely bigger than the I House South room and much better built. For one it's got this killer wall unit that separates the room well into three sections: a walk in closet (okay it's not big), a sink area and the living room/bedroom itself. There's nothing much by Triemli, except for the ESSO gas station, which turns out to be really useful, because ... all shops (groceries too) close by 6:30 pm. That's a real bummer unless you want to hang out at restaurants, bar, or clubs. The exception to this is the gas station mini-marts, which are open 24h. I've used the one next to the dorm more often than not.
xxxxxxxxxx is a pretty good place to work. I have to say that it's nice not to get bombarded by email on a constant basis and thing here are going quite well. I have been writing research reports for my supervisor and only recently (last week) started actually doing research of my own because my immediate supervisor has been a bit busy with paper deadlines and project goals to help me out. The building we are in is an old apartment building that has been turned into offices (the opposite of a loft) and my room that I share with two others is a converted bedroom it seems. Interestingly enough, the entire north wall in the office has a New York skyline from way back (the PanAm building is in the picture; nowadays it's the MetLife building). Of course, they said I _just had to_ sit in that office, it would make me feel more at home. (It's nice).
In the office, there are two other summer interns besides myself. One is a Norwegian lady who's also staying at Triemli and a local Swiss student from ETH (the university where the company spun off from, pronounced "eh-teh-how"). The lady, Camilla, is part of an official summer intern exchange called IESTA, and they have had weekly gatherings and activities. It's certainly easier than being here on your own; although I don't realize it much until I have time on the weekend, but then, I'm travelling too.
Food here is much more tasty for some reason. I have been trying to learn how to mangle authentic Swiss recipes (read: from those nasty pre-packaged dinner things, just add water). Surprisingly, everything so far tastes good. With the exception of smell-y Raclette cheese (boy that stuff is putrid unless melted) it has been fairly easy to do with prepackaged ingredients.
Briefly, I'll say that I have been to a couple museums, to a couple cities (Lugano and Muenchen [Munich]), and to a concert or two. Sounds like the typical New York summer, and it is too, only on the other side of the puddle. I can't understand much of Swiss German yet (and I still have much problems telling the difference between that and normal German, which is really different so I understand), so it's a bit confusing. Practically everyone under 30 speaks English too, so it's pretty easy to get around, though.
There are more things to tell, but I'll have to stop here. I
I don't have a phone number in Triemli; it costs too much to activate. If you want get it touch, the easiest is by email but snail mail works (supposedly):
xxxx xxxxxxx, xxxxxxxxxxx