This summer, I’ve been interning in the Laboratory of Lymphatic and Cancer Bioengineering Lab at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. My day is a little different from a day in my lab at Hopkins last summer.
7:50 AM: Waking up, getting ready, and eating a croissant with raspberry jelly while walking to the metro station. Instead of walking past the BMA garden like last summer, I walk past two Italian restaurants, a uniform store, one of 4 laundromats in Lausanne, a bubble tea cafe, and 4 bus stops. Everything is in French.
8:20 AM: Catch the metro. The advertisements are incredibly entertaining.
9:00 AM: Get a coffee. My lab has a really big lounge where people hang out during breaks. They have lots of magazines, Calvin and Hobbes books, and a beautiful view of the lake. They also have a coffee machine where you can get coffee for 50 cents. My favorite is the Lungo Leggero – because an espresso (in the short little cup) just makes the American-in-me feel like I’m not getting the bang for my buck.
9:20 AM: Walk into lab. The lab is cool because it’s attached to another lab (we collaborate a lot) and say hi to everyone. My lab is super social and welcoming. Everyone always asks how I’m doing. I talk to my friend (also named Kate) about her weekend.
9:30 AM: Meet up with my grad student to discuss what we’re doing for the day.
9:45 AM: Pass by the post-doc office and go to my desk. I work in the master’s student office. There are a lot more master’s students in my lab at EPFL because at EPFL, to become a phD student, you need a masters degree. However, the weird thing is there are no Swiss undergraduate students working in my lab. They have to do some hands on work in a lab, but for an undergraduate at EPFL, it is quite rare to work in a lab full-time during the summer or part-time during the semester. I’m pretty grateful for the opportunity that Hopkins gives me.
10:15 AM: Read some papers to answer some of the questions we’d been asking while completing our last experiment.
11:00 AM: My grad student and I do some cell culture to prepare for an experiment this evening. It’s weird because since everything is more expensive in Switzerland, we need to do more things by ourselves in the lab. Some protocols are different and different safety procedures are emphasized. It’s really interesting to see what is different.
1:00 PM: Lunch time!! I grab my sandwich and apple and go downstairs with whoever is free. Everyone tries to eat lunch in groups, so we always have really interesting discussions. The cook at EPFL’s cafeteria is super creative, so we always discuss the cook’s choices. For example, there was a ham, guacamole, and egg wrap today.
1:30 PM: Coffee time! It’s weird drinking coffee during the day (unless I’m super tired) so I normally just get some water and if I’m in a good/bad/hungry mood, a chocolate muffin/gelato/Kinder Bueno (aka my obsession).
We sit outside on the steps of the Esplanade, EPFL’s version of “the Beach” at Hopkins.1:45 – Back to work! My grad student and I go downstairs to take pictures on the confocal microscope and the pictures are so cool. I absolutely love my project this summer.
4:45 – Experiment time! I set up some conditions for my experiment and we put it on the microscope. I’m excited to see what the results will be.
6:45- All done! There’s always something exciting to do after work- whether it’s free parties hosted by EPFL (where I tried bacon chips – word to the wise- don’t), dinners with friends (tried homemade focaccia- oh mon dieu), BBQs (where people apologize for the quality of the hamburgers – which is funny because I have eaten more hamburgers in Switzerland than I have at home in the last year), or nights out at one of the bars in town. It’s a really social environment of really smart, motivated, and cool people. Tonight, I’m going over to my friend’s to make Mexican food. Here are some pictures I took on the way home:11:30- Head home on the metro with some friends. Dinner was super fun and I loved the fajitas.
12:00 – Bed. I’m exhausted!!! :)