Bikes, UNIGE classes and Research at CERN


If your lab is far and if you stay for the summer (which I highly recommend by the way!), you need to follow a few tricks for keeping your CERN bike past the 3 month loan period.  After the first 3 months, the bike shop will let you renew the loan for another month one or two times but towards the summertime, the bike suddenly becomes highly coveted for summer students. So beware and keep your bike away from the bike shop and out of plain view (i.e. don’t even park it outside main buildings because people will come around to check the racks for bikes that are past their loan period and confiscate them).  Even if something is wrong with your bike do NOT bring it to the bike shop or it’s doomed.  I had my bike taken away when I tried to get the gears on it fixed and other people (including Larry himself) had their bikes taken right from their racks.

P.S. if all this seems too much of a hassle, just try to buy a used bike off the CERN market or through local friends as soon as possible.  If you manage to sell it by the end of the summer, it might not even cost you anything.


UNIGE Classes


-Research the European University system before you come to Geneva.  It’s very, very different than what you’re used to. Teachers will not coddle you at all, homeworks don’t count for much, and your entire grade will likely depend on a grueling 4 hour final exam (possibly an oral exam too).

-Attend most, if not all the lectures.  It’s the best way to keep up with all the material and know exactly what you’re expected to know.  You WILL be tempted to skip classes especially if the French phases you but try to at least follow along in the textbook during lecture.  Chances are the lecture will follow the book pretty closely.

-Ask the professors and TF’s as many questions as you need.  The professors don’t hold office hours but you can meet with TF’s outside of classes and talk to professors during the 15 minute breaks in the middle of class or before and after class.  They are happy to clarify concepts in English.

-Talk to your classmates. They know how the system works and can give you some pretty helpful tips.


-Put off or not do homework.  Attempt ALL of it even if you don’t need to.  It’s the best practice for the final, I promise.

– Underestimate the final. Keep up with the work through out the semester or you WILL panic for an entire three weeks before the final.



Research at CERN

Just because most people’s minds immediately go to the Large Hadron Collider when they think of CERN, doesn’t mean that’s the only project at CERN.  It’s true that the main focus of CERN is LHC particle physics but an amalgam of smaller and larger labs also research things like medical physics, clean energy, and antimatter.  If you have any particular interests, do your research!  Larry has crazy connections and can probably get you into any lab at CERN if you want it badly enough.  Thanks to that, I now work in a medical physics lab developing medical imaging systems to work with cancer radiotherapy.

Hope this helps!

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