ETH, Zurich: Sai Krishna Deepak Maram

976 Views, Posted on: July 25, 2015

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Zurich is an amazing place to live in. The city of Zurich never fails to baffle you with its beauty. The clean streets, the snow-clad mountains and calmth of the quiet surroundings will definitely make one’s stay here truly memorable. There are countless places in the city with vast green landscapes, lakes, and mountains which simply steal your breath away. It’s not difficult to guess that Zurich is one of the happiest cities in the world!

I got this internship through apping and not via placement cell. I had mailed several professors in various universities for almost a month before I finally landed this internship. But, I think the wait and effort were worth it. Coming to some apping fundae, do not try to flood the mailbox of any professor. It will only create a negative impression on the IITian tag you carry. Sometimes it might take quite long to get a reply. In my case, it took 15 days for some of the replies.. So, be hopeful :) Spend enough time on the cover letter or the mail you are going to send. Keep it nice and short. You should be able to convince him that you are interested in research. If you have a couple of important points from your resume, do not hesitate to mention it in here as they might not have the time to go through the resume. I have heard from some of my seniors to paste a link to the resume instead of attaching it with the mail. I do not quite know how true this is but you might want to just follow this. I would advise you to start apping from mid-August if you feel your profile is not too strong. Just to give an example, my profile was not that strong as there are almost 20 people in my dept having higher CPI than me and coupled with that I did not do a research internship in my 2nd year summer. Doing R&D projects will definitely help to strengthen your profile if you are looking for a research intern. Good luck apping :)

The Internship
I am doing my internship at Network Security group in ETH Zurich. My internship is in the field of Network Security and my professor is known for his expertise in this area. So, I had absolutely no second thoughts after I got an acceptance email from the professor. There was no interview conducted. My selection was purely based on my resume. The visa process was not without some hassle. They asked us to get a paper signed stating that, the internship was compulsory. This is far from true since it is not a mandatory thing to do an internship at IITB, unlike in some of the other IIT’s. Luckily, with the help of a professor in PT Cell, I could get all the required documents.

Although the research group I am working in is a relatively new one, the amount of research papers they produce is just mind-blowing. My research project involves coming up with attacks on a new next generation Internet Architecture and then trying to simulate them. ‘sounds savvy, doesn’t it? Generally, research internships tend to be relatively light. There are no fixed hours of work. Although, one should be reminded that the Swiss are very punctual and everyone around you expects you to be so. You are supposed to update your Ph.D. advisor once in a while on your progress. If someone thinks that they might be interested in research, I would definitely advise them to take a research internship at a good university before they decide what they want to do. The experience is nothing like anything you’ve done before!

Backpacking Days
Switzerland is snugly nestled in Europe so that France, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands are all not very distant. It is a mere four-hour trip to Paris from Zurich. Also, not very far off are a lot of mountains (including the famed Alps range). So, there are quite a few places to visit in and around Zurich itself. Trekking enthusiasts, especially, have an endless list of places to visit. The weather is pleasant in the summers with occasional rains, although one would definitely miss the winter snow, shrouding the landscape in white.
Very recently, I went to Mount Titlis and spent a beautiful day at the top of the mountain.
Fun fact: Given the huge number of Indians visiting this place, the restaurant at the top of Titlis serves rice with Indian thali. Just so you know, rice is not even available at most of the restaurants in Zurich.
Yes. That’s a picture of me amidst the snow-covered mountains!

My experiments with food

Zurich is one of the costliest cities in the world. Be it food, travel, rent or anything else, everything’s worth a king’s ransom. Since I live in my uncle’s house here, I have all the utensils and kitchen contraptions to fix my next meal but I would definitely advise someone coming here to bring all basic utensils, cooker, and other items. Not knowing how to cook can be very problematic. I have learnt to cook a lot of basic things, all after coming here. Believe me, it is indeed quite easy to learn basic cooking and incredibly fun to experiment too!
One of the first things which comes to anyone’s mind when talking about Swiss is the chocolate!
There are a spectacular variety of chocolates. So make sure you try all of them before leaving! Apart from chocolates, there is an assortment of Swiss breads, jams, pastries and ice creams which are all an absolute treat to the taste-buds!

Goodbye, for now

The people have a simple sense of ethics ground firmly in their actions. No one has ever checked me if I have bought a ticket while traveling in a bus or a train. In most of the shops, there is no security guard standing at the door checking if I have got everything billed. It truly is humbling to see a sense of such discipline and trust woven into their lives.
At the end of my tour to Mount Titlis, an uncle who I met there told me, ‘I will definitely come back to this place some years later’, wording the one thought in almost everyone’s mind when an amazing trip in the Switzerland comes to an end. With almost half of my internship period complete, I too am hoping that I can come back here again. Later, sometime.