On the 11th of December, I took part in a school physics trip to visit CERN in Geneva. Many people asked me “if you don’t do physics at A-level why are you going on the trip?” To me I thought this was obvious. Just because you don’t have the knowledge or full understanding of something doesn’t mean that you can’t take part, I mean how else are you supposed to learn? I had never been to Switzerland before, and the hadron collider had fascinated me since the day they turned it on. To anyone that is reading this I hope you take away one word of advice: don’t let the doubt of others stop you from following where your curiosity takes you.
Day one: another plane another place. We took off from Luton airport, at about 1pm. I like Luton because it is small and rather quiet in comparison to other airports. The flight was incredibly fast, it must of been 40minutes at most! Arriving at Geneva we then took the train to Gare de Cornavin, and walked to our hostel. The hostel was clean and the staff were nice. The rooms were very good considering it was a school trip. Once we had settled in we were called down stairs for dinner, it was then we were told that we were going to a traditional fondu restaurant. I was incredibly apprehensive because I’m not a massive fan of cheese, however I tried to stay as optimistic as I could-that was until we got to the restaurant. The smell was stomach churning. It honestly smelt like feet. It was horrendous. When we went downstairs the smell lessened and became bearable. The fondue came out and it was as visually stimulating as the smell, just bubbling lumpy cheese. I tried it but I just couldn’t stomach it, i stayed as polite as I could though but just stuck to plain bread. The waitress noticed that I wasn’t eating and she bout out a roshti (I have probably spelt that wrong) which was kind of like a flat onion bhaji with potato and vegetables. It was lovely! Much better than cheese. On the way home we stopped off at Macdonnald’s as the group had also not been fondue fans either. After day one all I can safely say is: fondue? More like fon-don’t!
Day 2: CERN. After waking up at a painful 5:30 (6:30 Switzerland time) we got the tram into CERN. I wasn’t too sure what to expect, perhaps a singular, massive hi-tech building with lots of windows. But no. CERN was quiet and rather old. There we were greeted by a woman with a clipboard who called us and 4 other groups into a separate building where we had a presentation on the basics of what the hadron collider did. For those who don’t know, the hadron collider shoots protons at each other and when the collide they make particles that were around in the Big Bang. This helps scientists to see what space consisted of at the time. We were then sent to different sections of the hadron collider, our group went to LHCB. It’s quite hard to explain what happens there as I’m not a physicist and can’t explain it very well. However it was very impressive to see, and personally I found it fascinating to think that humans made such interesting pieces of equipment. Afterwards we went to the museum, well that what I would call it. It’s a massive wooden sphere opposite the science facility, and inside there are white pods that display and read out information. This was good as there was an English option so I could understand what was happening. 5min in all the lights went out and there was a massive projection across all the walls, with a French woman explaining what CERN is doing. This bit was my favourite part because although I couldn’t understand fully what she was saying, looking around at all the people staring at the light show on the wall was rather humbling. Seeing others enjoying such a simple thing genuinely made me smile. On the whole I would say I enjoyed CERN, but probably wouldn’t go back again. When the evening came around we were sent on a boat trip, this was a calm and charming way to end the day as we saw the sunset and all the lights begin to switch on across the lake.
Day 3: Bye-bye Geneva
This was our last day in Switzerland, and I was rather sad to leave. It had been a really interesting trip and the people I spent it with made it that much more fun, however everyone must go home at some point. On this day we went to two museums, one Musée d’Histoire des Sciences and the other International Red Cross/Crescent Museum. My favourite was the science museum, it was full of whacky creations and was inside of a absolutely stunning house. I would love to have seen this house back in it’s hey day, it was beautiful and situated right on the lake. The Red Cross museum was also good, however rather strange as I didn’t know what to expect. It had art and lots of propaganda. There was a section on lost people and this shocked me, there were letters from family members trying to find relatives and it made me feel awful. The thought of loosing my sister, mum or dad makes me feel ill. No one deserves to loose someone they love. There was also a section on natural disasters, and you could play a massive game and try to get all the people into a safe area. This was good, especially if you have little children as it can teach them the importance of preparing for natural disasters. Our flight was at 6, and I was home by 8. Geneva was a great little weekend away trip, and I would like to go back one day. If I actually do is a whole other story.