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.
Colorful assortment of vegetables, fruit and gourd on display for sale at the local market.
Next, we went to the Bern Historical Museum, which contains the Einstein Museum. The first floor had a very interesting Egyptian exhibit with mummy coffins. The paintings on the coffins were very intricate and detailed. In addition, there were really awesome showcases of ancient weapons from the Middle East. The swords had gilded and detailed handles made from precious metals and the daggers had curved blades. Even the sheaths were well made and the attention to detail of the maker was amazing!
Authentic Egyptian mummy coffins on exhibit in the Bern Historical Museum.
The second floor of the Bern Historical Museum was the Einstein Museum. The entrance was really trippy because there were two flights of stairs with mirrors at different angles on all the sides and next to the steps. Thus, there were multiple infinite mirror effects created. In addition, there were portraits of Einstein hanging from the ceiling, paying homage to the genius. Even though Carly and I were simply walking up the stairs, we become dizzy as we saw the infinite reflections of ourselves all around the staircase.
Infinite reflecting images created by the surrounding mirrors in the staircase leading the the Albert Einstein Museum.
The Einstein Museum interwove the history of the Jewish in Europe with that of Albert Einstein’s life, from his early childhood eduction to early adulthood to late adulthood. Even though Einstein had been born in Germany, his family moved to Milan when his father’s electrical company was bought due to bankruptcy. Einstein received his school leaving certificate and attended college at the Polytechnic Institute in Zurich. Contrary to popular belief, he was not that poor of a student since one of his report cards on display showed that even though he had failed physics, he aced experimental physics. Einstein married a fellow scientist and became a worker at the patent office in Switzerland. When he was laid off, he had trouble finding work. However, when his theories were backed up by evidence, he became more renowned.
Even though it was
interesting to learn more about his life, Carly and I were both surprised to learn that Einstein was quite the lady’s man. We had not expected to learn that he believed himself to not be monogamous by nature and had fallen in love several times over the courseof his life. He divorced his first wife to marry his first cousin, Elsa! Both of us found it humorous that Einstein was exempt from mandatory military service due to his heavily perspiring feet. Interestingly, his last words on his deathbed will remain unknown because the American nurse tending to him could not understand German.What was interesting to me was how much the museum emphasized Einstein’s life in Switzerland that made a lasting impact on his life, even in the sections about after Einstein moved to the US. For
example, they strongly implied that the reason he applied for US
citizenship was because they agreed to allow him to keep his Swiss citizenship
has a really amazing clock tower, so we stopped by on the hour to watch the
figurines dance. There was a throng of tourists in front right before the hour. As we waited, a huge crowd of tourists came up and stood under
the clock with us. When the figures finally danced, it was rather anti-climactic because the performance of the figurines was somewhat underwhelming. There was a rotation of a bottom piece and the jester rang his bells once, a man sitting in a chair flipped
an hourglass, and some bear figures slowly moved in a circle. Each figure was
maybe a foot tall at most. The tour books we had read really played it up an order of
magnitude of the dance. However, the mechanics to pull of such a performance of the pieces are impressive in the context that the clock is pretty old.
Bern Clocktower where the figurines perform hourly.
We spent the rest of the day
exploring Bern. We went to the Parliment but found out that officials were sitting so no guided tours were going on for the day. We found yet another street market. This one had tons of
brightly colored fruits and vegetables. We wandered through the capital
building and admired the huge fountain out front.
View of Bern from atop a hill.
Even though it was raining after dinner, we decided to go out and meet some locals. We first went to the Kornhaus Keller, which is a bar and restaurant in a former wine cellar. Many of the patrons were dressed in fancy formal attire. We took a train out to near the Bern University in the hopes of finding some
young-people-oriented nightlife. We found a crowded coffee shop,
where we tried some coffee. The barista/bartender was nice. He explained to us
that coffee drinks are usually sold with a small shot of water. Many of the students spoke fluent German but also could speak some English.
KornhausKeller, which is a bar and restaurant in a wine cellar.
My favorite part about Caltech is the Houses! The easiest way to describe them is as Hogwarts houses: each has their own personality and group of people and the first thing you do at Caltech is go through a “sorting” process. The people are what makes the Houses at Caltech so great. As a frosh, it’s amazing to be able to come in and immediately have a group of 100+ people to support you. Because the Houses have students from every grade, you make friends with upperclassmen and can ask for help on tons of things like:
It’s crazy to think that it has been four years now since I was applying to college. I remember it vividly. This week we’re spending some time reflecting on our personal admissions processes, and how we ended up at Caltech. There’s one question though that I wanted to spin out into a separate post: “what advice would you give to the admitted class of 2025?” And I think the best way to do this is to tell a more detailed story than I did in my other post.
These past six months have been a whirlwind- from having to move out of Caltech housing in March within a week’s notice due to COVID-19, to starting the first term of my junior year, I’ve definitely experienced a lot of change. When I went home in March, it was to a completely new state-my family moved from Chino, CA to New Jersey in January (great timing, huh?). While I missed seeing my friends from home, it was fun to have the chance to explore a completely new place. The pandemic obviously limited what I could see and do, but I got to experience walks through nature and along rivers normally foreign to a SoCal native and had some time to focus on bioinformatics research for the lab I work with on campus.