I am finally writing about the 2013 IDS-FunMat training school almost one week after it has happened. Forgive me, I had been busy with work and moving to Belgium again and whatnot.
The annual IDS-FunMat training school is the event I look forward to the most each year because I get to meet new colleagues and reunite with some people I ONLY get to see once a year at the training school. It took place in Sesimbra 2011 with an excursion to Lisbon. Last year, the training school was in Anglet and side trips included San Sebastian, La Rhune, and Biarritz.
For my 3rd and final training school, we went to Annecy near the French-Swiss border. Hmm. This had to mean Switzerland all over again. Since I was to fly from Bordeaux to Geneva first, I figured, why not make a detour to Lausanne before the training school started, and spend some time in Geneva afterwards?
Well apparently aside from me, a lot of my colleagues from Bordeaux liked that idea. 10 of them, in fact, decided to join me for Lausanne. So I started planning, and I became the coordinator for our pre- and post-training school Swiss trips. Big task, booking accommodations and creating a detailed itinerary and all. I love planning trips, but it was the first time ever that I was travelling in a group of 11 people, so it was certainly challenging, but worth every effort because of how much fun we ended up having 😉 (See all photos here.)
Mumu cow welcomes you to Switzerland, the land of the Alps, cheese fondue, watches, Swiss army knives, and expensive everything. Without really having a goal, our group grabbed a city map from the hostel and headed into the old town for some exploration.
Lausanne is quite hilly. There were many ups and downs and when we thought we’ve reached a high place, we looked afar and saw an even more elevated point. About the weather, all I could say was…thank you God! Although the sun wasn’t shining the entire time in Lausanne, at least there was no rain and the sky was blue, for the most part, making this stop a very pleasant one!
Alright, let’s introduce our group, starting with the boys. (I know we’re at the age when they really shouldn’t be called “boys” anymore, but I like to call them that anyway 😀 ) From left to right, we have Yi-Shiang from Taiwan, Tomin from Malaysia, Xuesong from China, Edgar from Canada, Ji from China, and Jiand from China. These people are all in the same PhD program as me, so each of us has two collaborating labs in two different countries.
And the ladies from left to right: An from Vietnam, Vusala from Azerbaijan, Mathilde from France, Camille from France, and Annie (me) from China…or Canada. I love the diversity of people from my program. Where else would I meet a girl from Azerbaijan? Other nationalities in the program include Nepalese, Singaporean, Indian, Polish, Ukrainian, Bangladeshi, Japanese, Korean, Finnish…you name it, we (probably) have it.
As we approached lake Geneva, the Alps began to appear in the distance. Ah, the majestic Alps. The last Swiss trip was Basel, Interlaken, and Zurich with chef, and this time around, it’s a whole new experience with the fun and lovely colleagues. Such an honour and pleasure to travel with them!
Somewhere along the way, we stumbled upon a giant chess set that happened to be missing a few pieces…so Yi-Shiang and Edgar decided to fill in the blanks. It was too bad that we didn’t play a game right there; it would have been the most epic live battle in IDS history. Side note: I never knew Yi-Shiang could be so goofy before this trip, even though we’ve worked in the same lab for almost 5 months. The whole week gave me new perspectives on a lot of my colleagues, and Yi-Shiang was definitely a surprise!
Enfin, a group photo with all 11 of us. They said that too bad the sign ruined the background, but I actually liked it there, for some strange reason. What a mix, PhD candidates from so many areas of functional materials, 1st years, 2nd years, and 3rd years, and we all unite in Lausanne for this one unforgettable weekend. Go team IDS!
At night, we chanced upon a large celebration taking place at a public square. There was a middle Eastern style band playing, with lots of people holding hands and dancing to a particular step pattern. After observing and learning the pattern for a while, I decided to join in with An and Vusala and wow, what fun it was dancing to the catchy beat! After one round or so, the three of us left the circle but Edgar (the guy beside the person with the yellow pants) joined in! According to the others, he was hilarious as he messed up the beat so much, hehe! Later on we found out that the celebration was for some sort of new year spring festival. Still don’t know what country/region it was for though…
On the morning of day 2, the group passed by this playground with an adorable wooden house. But of course we were all too big to play in it, right…?
Apparently not. Mathilde decided to let the child in her go free and step up to the challenge! The colour of her coat matches the poles too!
Before we left Lausanne for good, we headed to a few more points of interest, including this random Thai pavilion nearby the Olympic park. Not exactly sure what was the significance of the structure, but as it was starting to rain, we quickly ended our visit and continued on to the next leg of the adventure.
The next leg was actually Annecy, which was the main destination as it was the site of the training school from Monday to Friday. On the bus to Annecy, I noticed that the little beaver hanging from my backpack was spying on me from above. I think it missed me…or it was just too excited because we were getting closer to Annecy every second, closer to seeing dear friends again! Well, this is only part 1. Parts 2 to 4 to come…
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