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For my graduation project for my master’s in nuclear fusion, I went to the Swiss Plasma Center (SPC) located in Lausanne at the EPFL campus. I worked with Alessandro Geraldini and Stephan Brunner (my supervisors) on developing a new code that simulates the boundary layers of magnetized plasmas. This project involved combining analytical work and programming, which I love. It was great and inspiring to work on something that pushes our understanding of plasma physics and nuclear fusion devices further. I learned a lot during my stay in Lausanne.
SPC is a great place for a project the atmosphere at the lab is unmatched. Everyone was very open and kind; I felt immediately at home! There is a small nuclear fusion device, of the tokamak type, at SPC called TCV. I went to see it once. It was actually the first time I saw a tokamak, and it impressed me. I couldn’t understand how it is possible to build such a complex machine; it seemed so fragile.
During my stay, I lived in Lausanne, close to the center. Lausanne is a great city, it is quite small, but it is located next to Lac Leman and close to the mountains. Just being able to experience the view is already worth going there. The interplay between a lake and mountains must be one of the most beautiful things. If you are thinking of going to Lausanne, there are a few things to note. First, the little negatives. It is difficult to get a room. It goes without saying: Switzerland is expensive. A tip would be to become vegetarian (like most students). If you then arrive you will arrive in a surprisingly international place. There are many people from abroad, and it rarely happens that someone doesn’t speak English. People are never mean to you when your french pronunciation is not perfect. In fact, I have never been to a place where the people were so nice in general. I remember being with a friend from the Netherlands who came to visit me. I accidentally dropped a bar of nice Swiss chocolate on the ground. Before it even touched the ground, someone was already going down to pick it up for me. My friend responded, ”I have never seen so many nice people in my life; everyone seems so happy.” The great thing about Lausanne is that you can easily go into nature. I went on so many great hikes. If you like skiing or snowboarding you can find nice slopes within an hour or two of travel by train. SPC is a great lab, and I would certainly recommend you go there!