ETH Zurich: Nishad Shah

In this edition of Insight’s summer blog, Nishad Shah talks about his health-tech internship in ETH Zurich, and living the good life in Switzerland.

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nishad
Imagine a workplace with a direct view of the Swiss Alps. That’s pretty much the scene at my internship, at Institute for Biomechanics, ETH Zurich.

Selection
As my batch-mates would know, I was omnipresent on the internship blog in the Autumn semester. While I had no particular inclination towards an university intern, I have always been interested in the confluence of health and technology. When ETH IAF opened, I saw the projects as a chance to get acquainted with the global scenario in health-tech. There was also the additional allure of staying in Switzerland, making ETH Zurich the only university I applied to.
The selection procedure was quite smooth. There was a resume-and-SOP based shortlisting. The shortlist was announced just a few days before the endsems and to my surprise, I was the only one shortlisted. A skype interview was scheduled which went on for about half an hour. My PhD supervisor mainly asked basic technical questions, followed by a short discussion on my previous internships and a few HR questions. Overall, it was quite friendly and not at all an intimidating experience.

The results were out after 3-4 days and Swiss Air tickets were booked.

The results were out after 3-4 days and Swiss Air tickets were booked.

Campus and work
The ETH Honggerberg campus sits atop a small hill and, like IITB, has its own restaurants and supermarkets in the campus. There are also easily accessible sports facilities – most notable among them being rock-climbing which is just next to my building.

zurich

Broadly speaking, my work is on finite element analysis of bone samples, to study and analyse various structural parameters under different loading conditions. It also involves working on high resolution micro-computed tomography, image registration and image processing in order to study how the bone mass has changed during loading. Phew! It’s not as difficult as it sounds though.

The term “work timings” is virtually non-existent here. You can walk in any time you want and leave as you wish. I usually work from 9 AM to 6 PM. My guide and other students are very amiable and jovial and try their best to make me feel at home. In fact, in the milieu of the football world cup, we even kicked off our own foosball world cup. There’s obviously the kitchen and coffee machine for your occasional respite from work. Overall, it’s a dedicated as well as a fun-loving environment.

Zurich
Switzerland and beauty are synonymous with each other and Zurich is no exception. There is a scenic lake in the centre, surrounded by buildings with magnificent European architecture.

Zurich Lake

Zurich Lake

The people, in general, are very friendly and even try to address your queries in English. The public transport is excellent and very well managed too – a characteristic common to almost all of Europe. And there’s obviously the racy night life that everyone should experience at least once.

And there’s obviously the racy night life that everyone should experience at least once.

But brace yourselves, because this is also the 4th costliest city in the world and it literally surpasses its reputation! Anything you buy, be it chocolates or coffee, milk or mangoes, T-shirts or tickets, leaves a gaping hole in your pocket! It takes a week or two just to recover from the shock of such exorbitant prices.

Food and travel
Since eating out is expensive, it is advisable to learn cooking. I, for one, never expected cooking to be such fun and consider it to be a cherished hobby now. After some research, I was able to find relatively cheap Pakistani and Sri-Lankan stores for Indian groceries and frozen rotis/parathas etc. Lindt and Nestle, the world’s largest chocolate manufacturers, are ubiquitous in Zurich, with their exceptional collection of fruit, milk and dark chocolates. Needless to say, I try as many different chocolates as I can.

Zurich is very well-positioned for international as well as domestic travel, a feature really crucial to all those interning abroad.

Zurich is very well-positioned for international as well as domestic travel, a feature really crucial to all those interning abroad.

You can reach Paris or Milan within just 4 hours and continue your France or Italy excursions or just hop on a train and reach Interlaken or Geneva within two and a half hours. I do not think I need to mention the places you need to see in Europe!

To sum up, it has been a splendid journey so far, with some exciting work, new friends and fascinating travel expeditions. This internship has taught me some very helpful life lessons and moulded me for all the walks of life. It has been a relishing odyssey of self-discovery and a very memorable experience.

Vielen Danke!