New Blog, New Adventures, and Good Ol’ Portland


May 30th, 2013 is a day that I will not forget for a very long time, and here’s why…

Many months prior, I had applied to several graduate schools to continue my education in Mechanical Engineering. My alma mater (I can say that now about OSU!), sent me an acceptance letter while Oxford apparently wasn’t feeling it and broke things off over email, how rude. I was a little discouraged to hear about the results from Oxford, but mostly because it was supposed to be my European backup to the school I really wanted to go to, L’Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland. It had been over 2 months since I had had any correspondence with EPFL, and I was kind of wondering if they forgot about me. Finally, in the afternoon on May 30th, I checked my inbox to see an email with the ominous subject line, “Decision concerning your request to enrol in an EPFL Master programme.” Uh oh, no “congratulations” or other affirmative statement; this can’t be good, I thought. I opened the email and the first sentence read, “The EPFL Master Programmes Admissions Commission has finished evaluating a large number of applications for the next academic year.” Great, I know what this is. This is one of my favorite literary tropes being used against me: the delayed thesis. This is where you belabor your main point in order to warm your audience up to something that you know they don’t want to hear. Well, lay on your worst EPFL, I’m ready…. “It is with great pleasure to inform you that you’ve been accepted for the EPFL Master Prgramme.” What!? I had to read that several times to believe what I saw. ACCEPTED!! Confetti, fireworks, streamers, and all sorts of festive paraphernalia began going off in my head to the point where I momentarily forgot to breathe. This is it. My path is about to turn a course that will change my life forever…

Their library looks like Swiss cheese from the top...how fitting

Since then, I’ve calmed down from that initial excitement and have fortunately started breathing again. I decided that I would redesign my website and turn it into a blog so that family and friends can read about my adventures while I am abroad. Just some stuff about the school and program:

  • Above, is the EPFL library. It reminds of Swiss cheese from the top which is all too fitting.
  • The school is in the city of Lausanne, which is surrounded by wine country which is flanked by the Swiss Alps. Sounds like I’ll be stopping for a glass of wine or two on my way back from long days of snowboarding in winter.
  • Despite the program description of a “small percentage” of classes being taught in French, it turns out about 40% of my courses this upcoming term will be in French and two of the classes have grades based on a French oral exam at the end of the semester.
  • As with most of Switzerland, certain activities are not allowed on Sundays. This includes working, lawn mowing, and doing laundry.
  • Housing is incredibly difficult to find. Currently, I have short term accommodations booked at the university for 4 weeks which will give me time to find a permanent place to live.
  • I’ll be getting a Swiss bank account as soon as I get there. If you need me to launder money, just let me know…so long as it’s not on Sunday.

I leave for Switzerland in mid-August which is approaching much more quickly than I would have thought. Until then, I’m volunteering a couple days a week to my laboratory, preparing for EPFL, and spending time with friends and family in my favorite city in the world, Portland, Oregon! Since I don’t know when I’ll be back in Portland for an extended amount of time, I made a long list of things I want to do before I leave, and as a result, I’ve been having a very activity-packed summer so far! I’ll leave you in suspense now about all of the Portland adventures, but they will come soon! As for me, it’s back to laboratory to boil some more water!