The Swiss experience
Switzerland is a pretty small country but it also offers great diversity – in terms of food, languages, culture – specific to different cantons. Some of my favourite places and best memories are from the ski resort at Mt. Rigi, Jungfraujoch, Einsiedeln monastery, Mt. Pilatus, Zermatt and fondue, hiking at Jura mountains, evening walk around Luzern lake, climbing the Musegg Wall (a 14th century rampart) at Lucerne, attending Locarno film festival, attending Street parade at Basel, celebrating Durga Puja at Geneva Ramakrishna Mission (Centre Vedantique), playing football with labmates at St. Jakob Stadium Basel (former home of FC Basel), the list is endless. And according to me, the best way to travel around Switzerland is to take advantage of a SBB halbtax or Gleis-7-Abo and a Track 7 if you are a student below 25.
During my study, I attended a basic German course at ETH Zurich. For language courses, one may also take few basic courses at Migrosklubschule, but I would strongly recommend, the best way is to talk to local friends in whatever German you know and watch as many german movies on TV as possible.
Though I had the opportunity to attend several courses during my PhD at University of Basel, I still vividly recall the Seminar on “Drug Discovery and Development” offered at Biozentrum. Every day a new speaker – internationally renowned scientists from academia and biotechnology/pharmaceutical companies – took the sessions. This series of lectures not only taught us on mechanisms of pathological conditions, target identification, clinical trials, business models, but also gave us the opportunity to visit Roche and Novartis!
Student life at your alma mater
When I was at Zurich, I was the indian students coordinator at INSAZ (Indian Students Association Zurich), which gave me the opportunity to network with several Indian and international students. After I moved to Basel, I enjoyed the diversity in values, attitude and ethos of the student body. There was a cine club at University of Basel, through which I could watch many interesting movies. But my all-time-favorite activity was to swim in river Rhine, there was nothing more relaxing and refreshing.
Switzerland is among the world’s most competitive countries. Switzerland has high ranking in the Global Competitiveness Report, or the Global Innovation Index. The most important aspect to achieve that was multi-disciplinary way of conducting research. For each project they involved a basic scientist, an engineer and a student of Medicine/surgery. As now my field of research is highly multi-disciplinary, I try to recapitulate that research attitude.
My PhD days also taught me about work-life balance. I used to work really hard and long in the lab during weekdays. In the weekends I used to go for playing football, swimming in the Rhine, hiking to mountains with my labmates, trip to neighboring countries or hanging out with my Indian friends, or some serene lonely moments.
Switzerland is a fantastic place for studying, living, doing a job. Cultural diversity, amazingly beautiful landscapes, high standard of living and highly innovative learning and research environment of Switzerland offer’s a great platform for both personal well-being and career advancement.