Archive for July, 2014

Jul 05 2014

to New York for 2014-2015

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Announcement: I will be a graduate research fellow in New York this coming academic year, at the Center for Jewish History! You can find me in the Big Apple starting in August, but you’re going to have to come to the Bronx.

In other news, I just launched my new website, Seth took that home page photo, which features an SBB train in the foreground and hints of the Maison de la Paix, the new campus at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, in the back.

We were recently on a three-week trip to a combination of Geneva, Norwegian Fjords, London, Leipzig, and Berlin. Returning to Switzerland feels like returning to Boston. A place I love, and hate, and which feels like an old home. It is familiar, but the changes are bewildering. Just to make sure we knew we were in Switzerland, we got to experience:

  • Bagels, my friends, are taking over Western Europe. But they are all wrong. In Geneva Cointrin (airport) is a “bagels and beer” stand, and EPFL now has a cafe advertising “soft” bagels. SOFT?!!! Blech. I think I prefer no bagels. Well, London has some real bagels, still.
  • A helicopter lowering a boat into Lac Leman. Rich people these days, can’t afford to live on the lake and have their own boathouse…
  • Geneva Cornavin, the newly remodeled train station. It is like a shiny, ugly mall with train tracks in it. So, not much improvement there. The SBB seems to have transitioned to almost totally accessible train cars, though. Nice. There is also now a new station between Lausanne and Renens. And Geneva ticket machines (TPG) still require you to have so much change in your pocket that I missed my abonnement generale desperately.
  • Strawberry picking, the best, reddest, juiciest!!! And then we returned to Pittsburgh, where fresh, local strawberries were small, sour, or rotten.
  • Getting lost in the Maison de la Paix. You know it is going to happen when you get told you have a meeting in room 501, in petal 1, on the 5th floor, which is actually the 3rd floor. There is much good to be said about this new building, like a nice library, a cafeteria which exists, a general information desk, fizzy water that comes out of all drinking taps, and walls you can write on. Also, I really like how the toilets are in the stairwells. 😉 I hear some people have complaints, though.
  • We walked into France from Mies to Grilly. We got told at a restaurant in Grilly that at 1:20 pm, the kitchen was closed for lunch. We found another place, in a horse showring, willing to feed us at such a late hour. We then found two old men hanging out by the Versoix river who were astounded, simply astounded, that we could have possibly walked in from Switzerland. Which was just on the other side of the river, which you might also call a creek…
  • We finally went to the Bains des Paquis for dinner. And we couldn’t eat fondue, because fondue is not allowed in the summer. No fondue, all trip!!! But we were expecting that, because we know Switzerland has a fondue ban in summer. We still ate plenty of cheese, because I knew just when and where to be at the Lausanne market.
  • I ran into a student from the history master’s program at the Graduate Institute in, of course, the train station. She recognized me, but not my name. =/ I needed my regular reminder that Switzerland is small. We had an awkward conversation in which I spoke French while having an internal mental battle to shut out the Yiddish that wanted to come out.
  • That referendum, the immigration one, is creating mayhem in the Swiss academic and research worlds. If I had hoped to go back some day, that chance seems slimmer than ever. =(

Did you want to hear about fjords, London, or Leipzig? Hope not. This is SwissWatching, after all. If you’re lucky, you’ll hear about New York. We will be living in something of a reality-show setup, in a Yiddish-speaking coop in the Bronx. That should provide some fodder. On the other hand, I am going to be finishing my dissertation, so maybe not.

Happy July 4! It is not raining in Pittsburgh!



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