Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Beginning a post-doc abroad

As you may know, I recently accepted a position as a post-doc at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland. Just about two weeks ago, my wife and I moved to Lausanne and I began my new work.

This is my first actual "job" that I've had. Sure, it carries many simularities to graduate school, but my responsibilities are greater and, on top of that, I'm now living in a new culture. All of these aspects taken together have made for a very exciting two weeks.

By moving to a new country, I hope to experience a little bit of what so many students and researchers experience when they move to the US from abroad. Working in scientific research is tough, but I could only imagine what it was like for many of my colleagues to adapt to a new lifestyle as well. I was, in a sense, jealous of this great experience they were having and of the worldliness they obtained as a consequence.

Of course, there have been difficulties with the move. Language is one such difficulty. I'm learning French, but my skills still remain atrocious. And little things, like the idea that one never gets on at the front of a bus in Lausanne, have led to embarrassing moments with bus drivers and the public.

Overall, though, I'm quite satisfied with my new location and even more so with my work. I have switched my research to biophysics and can feel the excitement of a field that still has quite a bit of knowledge remaining to discover. My lab environment is fantastic and the EPFL campus is energetic and knowledge-driven, which is similar to my undergraduate institution, Rose-Hulman.

To my mind, Academia is special because it not only drives discovery, but also encourages a global-attitude and feeling of trust amongst people from all nations.