So, I’m moving to Lausanne, Switzerland. The company called Smallrivers offered me an interesting job as a web developer for paper.li. I will be working and living in Lausanne where the office is situated on the campus of the EPFL. I’m spending my first weeks in Lausanne in a hotel to find a place, get in sync with my co-workers and getting everything else ready to make the move. I had a two week travel bag including my camera and a laptop. So, what’s up?
The hotel lifestyle
I’ve done longer hotel stays before but I found this stay to be different from most others. The hotel was 5 minutes on foot from the office and just outside of the campus grounds. The first 3 days another co-worker who would be working from Paris was also staying at the hotel, but after that I was on my own. For me this was the first time I really was alone in a hotel and I must say it is a strange experience. Normally I would either have one or more people in the hotel that is also worked on the same project or I would be with someone who I know more closely. One of the funny things I found is that the staff approaches you in a different way. Some are just as they would normally be when your with a group but others open up to you, they have some chatter with you or talk about the weather. At the end of the two weeks they did not need to ask for my room number at breakfast and dinner.
Like I mentioned, the office is located at the “École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne”. But everyone calls it the EPFL. More specifically Were at the “Parc-Scientifique Lausanne” (PSE) department. I took some of my time over the weekend to walk about campus and it seems like a very nice campus area. I found shops, cafés, lunch rooms and other campus buildings and I found that the whole campus is in an state of evolution. Some parts are older and were build in the late 70s. Other parts were highly modern and had some contemporary architecture. The Rolex learning center is a nice example of the modern parts of the campus. And interestingly… there still building! It seems like evolution of the campus keeps on going. Even in the middle of the campus old buildings are taken down and replaced by new ones.
I was really lucky to go this week. On campus there was a week long event called PolyNICE organized by the faculties. There was a skating range, inflatables, food stalls and even an Ice climbing wall. During my first walk across campus I bumped into some students who were building a zeppelin. the earopoly.ch student association was hired to keep a zeppelin in the air for the whole week to promote the event. I took some pictures for them, shot some video footage and did lend an extra hand if they were one short. The pictures landed on their website and I got to know the first people outside of the office. A camera can be a great conversation starter like that. But in this case I had a lot of luck meeting so many new people just by walking around campus taking pictures.
We had a nice drink at the satellite bar on campus with the co-workers and I think that the foobar in Leiden can learn something from them. The whole campus area seemed a nicely self sufficient town. Good transportation into the center of Lausanne with the Metro so nothing wrong there. The only thing that I noticed was the farther I got from the office the less female students were there. The EPFL is a technical university so enough geeks to scare away any girl. But the poly tech part (where we are in the middle of) has a better balance. But as a tecky the lack of females on campus has been the norm.
I took my camera with me for a purpose. It’s an easy conversation starter and it gets you out of the hotel to take some picture.s. Another perk of course is that you get to show family and friends where I’ve been. Up to now I’ve taken over 250 pictures (not all good) and I’ve made one Facebook album for friends, family and fools to see.
Get a room!
Although the experience of “living” in a hotel is interesting I do not want to keep doing that. So I got myself Online to look for some housing. Initially I was shocked! A 18 m2 furnished apartment 2.000 CHF (1.650,- euro) per month! I did find cheaper places after a while but it also got me thinking… How do I get to know the local culture, learn to understand and speak a bit of French and save some money. Getting in a house with a room mate. This involves finding these houses, making an appointment and then visiting them. Although I send out about 20 emails I got back about 12. From those 12 I had 6 appointments and half of those were canceled. So only 3 visits. The last one I struck gold on the Avenue de Beaulieu! 2 rooms, separate entrance, classical building, off the main road, in city center and with good access to public transport. And that’s just the apartment, the room mates are super. One works in the field of hydro engineering and the other imports electrical scooters from China and makes them even more green. The apartment is a bit more expensive than the other options I had but it is completely worth it.
The decision to go for a room mate situation was partially created by the fact that my French is not that good, not good at all. I can manage German very well but in High school I took German over French as a language simply because I had 3 out of 10 as a grade for French.
Compared to France itself I have the impression that the natives do speak English better. Maybe that is due to the international companies here or it’s just me being lucky and only encountering two who did not speak English at all. But I still think that in everyday life it might be useful to learn French…
Have you ever stood in front of a door and there is no indication if you need to push or pull? Well every country has those place but up to now I’ve always naturally know what way to open it. If I’m in the room pull, if outside of the room push. That’s not true here, at least not at the office. I’ve been here for two weeks now and I still keep pushing the doors the wrong way. Small changes that change perspective, money that is different, new environment and all the other things that come with moving abroad (I feel a frustration blog post coming). It’s gonna be an exciting and changing time.
Just to cap
I will probably be moving over my things the upcoming week, arrange the last paperwork and doing tech lead on a high pressure project at the office. It’s gonna be hell of a week… but we’ll manage. After that… we’ll see my next blog post about the actual legal issues of moving between countries coming…
Oh and I learned one new lesson; Don’t take a hotel too close to the office. You’ll spend more time at the office than you would normally. You need to take time to get out and spend time outside of the general area around the office while if you have a hotel that is further away this happens naturally.