Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Oh the places i'll go


Where to start. Ok, so my job is awesome. My office has around 40 people, all from different countries around the world. In the programmes (we spell things the British way here, sweet right?) department alone, we have an Australian, a Brit, two Americans, and the other intern, who is ironically named Clare (without the i) is Swiss. So, basically it is a really international office. I found out yesterday that another intern at the office, named Jenny, is from Michigan too, and she is in her third year of med school at U of M! Along with one other woman in the office, there are three Michiganders! I think we represent Michigan pretty well:)

The International AIDS Society is primarily know for the large international AIDS conferences that they put on every two years. The IAS has been holding conferences for over 20 years now. The first one was held in 1985 in Atlanta, Georgia. What is so exciting about this, is that my job in the programmes department is to work on AIDS 2010 in Vienna, Austria! There is a large conference coming up at the end of July in Cape Town, South Africa (which i am going to!), so everyone else in the office is focused on that huge endeavor. Thus, it is up to me to keep the ball rolling with the Vienna Conference. I am still getting my feet wet around the office, so it seems like a daunting task, but I am confident that I can get the job done! Wow, that sounded lame, haha. I will keep you all updated as I get more involved in the planning:)

Along with the great things going on at work, I went to Paris this past weekend! It was a perfect weekend to go, because we had wonderful weather! We spend Thursday and Friday touring the city, hitting up the Eiffel tower, Napoleon's Tomb, the Grand Arche, Notre Dame, the Latin District, and Musee de' Orsay among other places. It was a busy but fun two days! As I previously mentioned Sarah and I were staying with my friend Amy and her family at their house near Paris. Unfortunately, Amy got really sick starting on Friday with Vertigo (inner ear infection that makes you feel seasick) and actually had to go the the hospital to be tested. She had to wait to get an MRI, so she was in the hospital for two days! It was really sad, but I was grateful to be there with her. I heard from her yesterday, and she is feeling much, much better, and the MRI looked fine. Thank goodness.

Our train left Sunday evening so Sarah and I visited the Sacre Cur Church during the day which was absolutely beautiful. The Church is up on a hill so the view of the city is spectacular. There are also lots of shops along the street leading up to the church, so we did some last minute Paris shopping! Aka, I bought more scarfs to add to my hefty collection, haha.

Anyway, I hope this finds you all well, and I look forward to sharing more detailed stories with you when I get back in August. I also wanted to take time to thank everyone who helped to support me in coming to Geneva. I am having the time of my life, and it has only just begun! We are hopefully traveling somewhere this weekend. There is another Swiss holiday on Monday which means no work and a three day weekend! (my boss wants me to come in this Friday...) But it is really hard to coordinate with a large group of people, so it is going to be a last minute decision.

Well, TaTa For Now -


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Geneva: The Beginning

Hello Friends and Family!

So, the Swiss Schenanigans have begun. I have yet to start my internship, that begins tomorrow. But, I have been exploring the city of Geneva for the past few days along with getting to know the other students on the trip with me. So far there are 13 of us, 10 girls and 3 guys. haha. There are going to be a few more students from MSU coming in the next few weeks, as well as some students from Villanova and Boston University.

We are living in a monastery turned hotel/conference center called Le Cenacle. It is very nice, we all have dorm style rooms and they are all on the same floor which is convenient. It is a short walk to the buses and trams which makes it convenient as well. But, I think I am beginning to master the public transportation system! Those of you who know me well know that my directional skills are a little rusty, so I am very proud. The city of Geneva is actually very small, we have already seen all of the important historical "sites" that there are to see in Geneva. Can you believe that there is only one monument in the entire city! We had a walking tour of the Old City on Thursday with an American tour guide. It was very fascinating learning how the city was founded out of the rise of Calvinism. I wish I could tell you more, but at that point we were all still very jet lagged and barely holding in there. haha.

The city itself is beautiful! It is soo clean, and quiet. Right when I stepped off the train I noticed it. The Swiss are genuinely quiet people, unlike Americans they tend to sick to themselves. It is so interesting, we have had tram rides of complete silence. However, they are very friendly if you need help, and most of them speak English. I was flying with no one else from my group, so I had to find my way from the airport to Le Cenacle by myself! Oh my goodness. It was an adventure to say the least. Just imagine me lugging two HUGE suitcases that I could not even lift on and off of a train, a tram, and a bus. and then having to find where which street I live on. But I made it alive, so all is well!

I am not sure if this is taboo across all of Europe, but we have all noticed that people here wear very muted colors. In other words, we stick out like sore thumbs with our bright pink shirts and colored scarfs! But, that is ok, colorful people need to wear colorful outfits! Throughout the course of this blog I will make silly observations like this about the cultural differences, just because I find it really interesting. For example, women here LOVE to wear linen, especially linen pant suits. and men really love super pointy shoes. I mean, they could kill someone with how pointy they are! haha.

Also, Geneva is the most expensive place in the entire world! ha, well I do not know if that if true, but it is definitely up there on the list! I have to provide lunch and dinner for myself, so it should be interesting how crafty I can get. I have been eating ALOT of cheese, brie is my favorite, and that is the cheapest cheese here! It is really exciting! But, we get breakfast here at Le Cenacle everyday, so we all go and fill up so we are not as hungry for lunch! ha, it is funny. Geneva is only two miles from the border of France and every Saturday morning they have fresh markets right over the border, so we all went and got some nice cheaper fruits and veggies. I also went into the Swiss Vineyards yesterday for a free wine tasting! it was beautiful and delicious!

I am really excited to start my internship tomorrow! I have been told that I have the best supervisor ever:) If you did not know, I am working for the International AIDS Society. It is a really great organization primarily working to promote AIDS awareness. I will keep you updated on that when I start!

But I actually only have a three day week this week! I do not work on Fridays, and Thursday is a Swiss bank holiday. So, what do I do when I have a four day weekend?? Go to Paris of course! I am leaving early thursday morning with my friend Sarah to visit one of my really good friends Amy who lives in the Paris area. I have been to Paris before, but only for two days. So, I still have alot more to see! I am planning on traveling alot while I am over here. Venice, Nice and Monaco for sure. And I am planning on traveling throughout Switzerland to the Alps one weekend! and somewhere else as well, it is a hard decision, there are so many choices!

Well, I hope this update gives you all a better idea of what I have been up to! I am having a blast so far, and all of the students are very nice. I will update soon with some of my other Schenanigans.

xoxo, Claire.