Catherine Xie


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These are a few of our favorite things!

As we reflect back on our fabulous and eye-opening Swiss adventure, we would like to share with you some of our favorite memories.

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culture

Old Swiss German Towns and the Rhine Falls

We decided to have a very healthy breakfast today so instead of our usual bread and cheese, we bought a box of macarons each from Sprungle Confiserie! I also got a cappuccino muffin, a blueberry muffin and an exotic fruit juice smoothie (pineapple, papaya, banana, etc.). We then caught a train from Zurich to Stein-Am-Rein through Schauffhausen.

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Rainy Day Exploration of Downtown Zurich!

Today, we took a very early morning train from Lugano to Zurich that was exactly 2 hours and 40 minutes according the the very precise Swiss train schedule. When we arrived in Zurich, it was much colder than sunny and warm Lugano and it was even raining heavily! We had to pull out our raincoats from the bottom of our backpacks since we had not used them since hiking in the Alps. Our hostel was right in the center of downtown Zurich and so it was a convenient location. However, we spent some time wandering around downtown in rain from the train station, looking for our hostel. Once we found it, we hiked up four flights of stairs to get to the hostel lobby since it was above a restaurant. Then, we climbed up another three flights of stairs to our floor! We decided to go exploring despite the rain. We ran into some graduate students who were attending the local university, ETH. One of them, Haffi, had been at Caltech for one summer as a SURF student when he was an undergraduate and they agreed to show us around Zurich. First, we visited the church, Gross Munster. The Church had beautiful stained glass windows and also a crypt in the basement. We also went up to the towers and got a very nice view of Zurich and the river. Stained glass in Grossmunster. *

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Cake for Breakfast, Medieval Churches and an afternoon boat cruise in Italian Switzerland

This morning, we decided to satisfy our craving for sweets by searching for a bakery. When we were walking around in old town Lugano, I spotted a cool looking bakery with delicious and beautiful looking cakes and pastries on display in its window. We decided to go in and investigate. We ordered a slice of plum pie and a slice of cake with walnut and chocolate strings on top. We sat in the cafe restaurant and savoured each delicious bite. The fancy confectionary that we had serindipitously stopped by for a breakfast of cake was actually a very special bakery renowed also for its espressos and apparently used to be a nunnery.

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culture

Markets of Bern, the Life of Einstein and Wine Cellars

This morning, we went to the local street market near our hostel to buy local authentic artisan cheese and bread. Needless to say, both were was super delicious and made for a hearty breakfast. The bread was freshly baked and had a lot of different types of nuts including macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, etc.

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clubs

Exploring Bern, the capital of Switzerland!

This morning, we planned to take the train to Bern, the capital of Switzerland, this day, but since all shops and restaurants are closed on Sundays, we were in no hurry to leave Lauterbrunnen. We decided to hike to Staubbachfall, which is the waterfall above the town. At night, the waterfall is light from behind so the cascading water is visible. Thus, Staubbachfall is actually more visible at night than during the day becuase the mist from the waterfall is also light up at night. Stuabbachfall is a 297m high single drop waterfall. Apparently, the frirst measurement of Staubbach Waterfall was carried out in July 1776 by a geometrist Johann Samuel Wyttenback. He used a team of helpers with rope and after ascending the mountain to the top of the waterfall, he tried to let the rope down. However, he had underestimated the height of the waterfall and so the villagers had to collect pieces of rope and knot them together in order for the length of the rope to be measured.

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The Classic Swiss High-Alpine Hike

When we got up in the morning, the clouds had cleared and we could see a light dusting of snow all over the mountains. Today, we decided to do part of the classic Swiss high-Alpine hike of the Bernese Alps, which leads from First to the Faulhorn summit (2670m above sea level) to Schynige Platte (2068m) via Berghaus Manndlenen. Along the way, the stunningly scenic views of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains with the turquoise-blue waters of Lake Brienz shimmering deep down in the valley were heralded as a must-see! In the wintertime, there is a World Cup ski-cross course on First above Grindelwald.

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Rainy Day Hike of Lauterbrunnen Valley to the Phenomenal Trummelbach Falls

When we woke up in the morning, dark grey clouds hung over the Lauterbrunnen valley and obscured the sunlight. It began raining soon after we went to the CO-OP supermarket for a quick breakfast of bread and cheese. We decided it would be the perfect opportunity to hike along the valley and to see the Trummelbach falls, which are a series of ten glacier waterfalls. The rain picked up very quickly and my water resistant jacket became insufficient. We stopped by a local store and I had to buy an very large blue poncho to shield against the persistently pelting rain.

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High Particle Physics and the United Nations

Today Carly and I got up early to go on a fascinating up close tour of CERN, which is also know as the European Organization for Nuclear Research. (The acronym CERN actually comes from the French name for the particle physics lab:Organisation européenne pour la recherche nucléaire.) We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to get an insider view of CERN byJavier Duarte and Alex Mottof Caltech Professor Maria Spiropulu’s experimental particle physics group. We had read about the research and facility in the news and seen pictures, but we were definitely very excited to get a firsthand look especially in light of the recent Higgs-Boson discovery. We first met with Javier who drove us across CERN to Point 5. It took us approximately 15-20 minutes just to drive across CERN and we were impressed with how large the instrument actually is in real life, as part of it lies in France.

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Some Swiss Gruyère cheese? Don't mind if I do!

We got up early today for our day trip to Gruyères village, which is a rural medieval town famous for its production of Gruyère cheese. We bought croissants for breakfast at a boulangerie (bakery), which were super delicious, crisp and buttery. We discovered that pastries from actual bakeries were much more delicious than the pastries from supermarkets such as Coop because Carly got an apple tart that she said was not very good.

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Day 1

After a long trans-Atlantic plane ride, we finally were in Switzerland!! We landed in Zurich in the morning and took an hour long flight to Geneva, where our Swiss adventures would commence. We immediately noticed in the airport and train station that everything was in the three Swiss official languages—French, German, Italian, and only some English. Everyone (at least the airport and train employees) seemed to be trilingual and also spoke English.Also, customs was super easy to go through. I think customs and security combined during our layover in Zurich took a total of 15 minutes, and we didn’t even have to take our shoes off to go through security, which was a pleasant surprise for us.

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ASB Day 4

Today, we woke up at the crack of dawn for our final day of ASB in San Diego. We were excited for our shift to help rebuild a low-income family house in El Cajon with Habitat for Humanity.

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local

ASB Day 3

Today, we drove inland to Lakeside, which is almost near the desert to do a riverbed cleanup with the Lakeside's River Park Conservancy. We meet Monica, one of the Conservancy's wild life biologists at the trail and some other regular volunteers. Apparently, this area used to belong to the natives before they were moved to reservations and they had planted many edible plants that still grow to this day. This trail is frequented by members of the community: joggers, walkers and horseback riders. Thus, it was important to clear the plants that have overgrown the trail to ensure the safety of all those that use this popular trail.

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global

ASB Day 2

Today was the second day of San Diego ASB trip. When we were wary of the rain but this morning, we drove to Spanish landing of the San Diego Bay, which is the beach we adopted with the organization *I love a Clean San Diego*. *Adopt-a-beach* is nation wide program but is run in San Diego by I love a Clean San Diego. I had contacted and worked with the organization's volunteer coordinator beforehand and registered online, picking Spanish Landing as our beach to adopt.

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Cirque Du Soleil

Over this past weekend, the Master of Student Houses (MOSH) organized an trip to go see Cirque Du Soleil's show *OVO, *which played at the Santa Monica Pier in order to enhance and enrich student life here at Caltech.

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A Tale of Two C's in a Winter Wonderland!

Woohoo! Right now, it is winter break, which means school’s out!!! It feels great to bedone with exams and homework and have time to finally just relax! During the first few daysof break, I visited my good friend Carly in her hometown of Anchorage, Alaska. Some of youwho intimately follow these Caltech student blogs may know her from her blog about aresearch internship in South Korea this past summer. Both Carly and I have known each othersince freshman year as we both play the clarinet in the Caltech Occidental Concert band,have been on the Caltech swimming team and are on the Caltech waterpolo team together.Beyond our shared passion drinking of exquisite tea, we were also study and homeworkpartners for ACM95, which is an applied mathematics class many engineering majors take atCaltech; I would venture to say that we bonded over the triumphs and tears of many latenights working on problem sets.

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clubs

The Getty Villa

Often times, it's definitely worthwhile to venture outside of the Caltech campus and explore what the surrounding Los Angeles area has to offer. TheJ. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa in Malibu is definitely a gorgeous and must visted destination. The Getty Villa's most striking feature is not only the huge collection ofapproximately 44,000 works of art from the Museum's extensive collection of Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities (over 1,200 are on view) but also the architecture and design.

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culture

Spring Festival

It's officially the year of the Dragon and what better way to celebrate than the annual Chinese Spring Festival Celebration Party hosted by the Caltech C right on the Caltech campus!! This event consists of a buffet style dinner with authentic Chinese dishes followed by a cultural performance showcasing the rich history and traditions of China through dancing, singing, skits, poetry, etc. to welcome in a new year.

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Looking at the Itsy Bitsy (with lasers!!)

One of the central components of a Techer's life is usually and most likelyclasses (reality check!)*.*Most commonly perhaps, this invokes images of lecture style teaching with problem sets, reading and lectures.However, one of the classes I am super excited to be taking this term is my microscopy lab class titled "*Bi/BE 227. Methods in Modern Microscopy*". It is definitely different from my lecture classes because I can get to be hands-on using million dollar equipment to gain experience in confocal microscopy. Microscopy is definitely a widely used and extremely useful technique in lab research, as the improvement and use of microscopes has been essential to the progress and development of science.

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Tournament of Roses

Happy New Year! I can't believe winter break is already over and classes here at Caltech are in full swing. School started this past Wednesday but I came back to Pasadena early with my family to see the world famous Rose Parade. This festival is definitely something that Pasadena is well known for and I figured it was worth seeing at least once during the four years I am here at Caltech. To my surprise, there were actually quite a few Techers who had also come back to school early in order to watch the parade and/or go to the Rose Bowl game. The Tournament of Roses consists of a parade that is just on East Colorado Blvd (about a 10 minute walk from the student Houses) and the Rose Bowl college game. It usually happens on New Year's Day but since it was a Sunday this year, the festivities were moved to a Monday, January 2. This year, the college football teams that were competing in the Rose Bowl were Wisconsin Badgers and Oregon Ducks.

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