By: Leah Funk, Guest Writer
Like many of my fellow T-birds, I spent (some of December and) most of January flitting around different countries and cities for my Winterim. As an MA I chose the Geneva Winterim for my cultural experience, and while its focus was international and multilateral organizations, we got much more than that. Before I start I feel like a shout-out to our amazing TA, Sylvia Imbrock, is necessary. She really helped solidify the meetings and get us around when some of us didn’t know a word of French. We really got to experience a wider spectrum of organizations than expected: from CERN and UEFA to the UN refugee agency and the International Telecommunications Union. As great as many of our visits were, in my opinion the best moment involved the speaker from UNCTAD (UN Conference on Trade and Development). Not only did we get a behind-the-scenes tour of the UN (seriously, how often are you going to get to stand on the stage in the Assembly Hall? I’m giddy just remembering it), he also told of fascinating letters he found from the League of Nations archive in the library, and then he regaled us with stories of the peacocks that live on the UN grounds.
Aside from the UN, visiting CERN and one of the experiments involving the LHC is definitely in my top 5 of best moments from Geneva. I’m sure every single one of us has a picture of us in the hard hat in front of the CMS. I wish I could tell you more about it, but as intrigued as I am by the mechanics of how it all works, I only understood the very basics. If you want in depth detail, I suggest you do the 3.5 hour tour of CERN. It’s totally worth the trip to Geneva.
One of our visits outside of Geneva was to Zurich where we dined with about 20 alumni. It was amazing to meet so many alumni who have all come from different backgrounds. Thanks so much to alumni John Cook who set up all of events in Zurich! Visiting the Swiss stock exchange and PWC was very enlightening (especially for those of us with very little finance background). After our Friday in Zurich, a few of us took a bus tour through the countryside and over to Liechtenstein. It was one of our nicest days weather-wise, so perfect for pictures. Now we can say we’ve been to Liechtenstein and have the (novelty) stamps in our passports to prove it!
Our last official day in Geneva involved a lovely train trip to the town Gruyere for a tour of the cheese factory, an enormous fondue lunch, and a stop at the Cailler chocolate factory. It was a filling, but delightful way to spend the last day together. This trip was a great bonding experience and I am glad I got to know most of the group better than I did going into Geneva, so overall I have to say these guys definitely helped make the trip memorable.