Celebratory Post-Marathon Macarons in Paris and Campervan Adventures in Italy.  
Lachlan Arthur
ETH Zürich, Switzerland
Global Society Foundation Scholarship Recipient 2016​​​​​
Valerie Hoogstad Scholar Award Recipient 2016

You know you have had a good month on exchange when driving across Italy from top to bottom in a
campervan wasn’t even the best thing that happened! 

Top spot this month was reserved for the moment I crossed the finish line of the Paris Marathon and fulfilled a dream that had been months in the making.  With preparation starting when I ran my first marathon back in November last year in Adelaide, followed by months of training throughout the Swiss winter as well as fundraising for Operation Smile Australia, the moment when I crossed the finish line really was a culmination of everything that I have prioritised over the last 6 months.  Along with the 43,000 other runners that competed, I was dealt a scorcher of a spring day in Paris with temperatures close to 30 degrees.  This unfortunately meant that dehydration took quite a toll and added a bit to my time, but I was still stoked that when I crossed the line before the Arc de Triomphe I did so in a personal best time of 3:24:05.  Not entirely content with my time, I will be lining up for the Copenhagen Marathon in May, but nevertheless, the post-race champagne and macrons on the Champs Elysees went down pretty well!

The rest of April was mostly consumed by Easter and the mid-semester break, but in the 9 days of university we actually had, I finished up my project looking the Hepatitis C Virus and moved on to the Jiricny Lab at the Institute of Biochemistry at ETH Zürich.  My new research project is investigating disorders relating to DNA repair mechanisms, in particular Fanconi Anemia, which is a rare genetic disease that often results in cancer, bone marrow failure and congenital defects.

I used the break from study and research to drive across Italy in a rental campervan affectionately known as “Rolling Ronnie”.  I was on the trip with Ben, an American on exchange in Zürich who is one of the best mates I have made during my time abroad, as well as Maud (a French student on exchange in Zürich), Sam (Ben’s best mate from the US) and Sophie (one of my friends from ANU who is currently on exchange at Exeter in the UK)
The trip was full of once-in-a-lifetime experiences from start to finish, and was undoubtedly the best holiday I have ever taken.  It all started with a bus ride from Zürich to Milan – normally a 2 and a half hour drive – but on Good Friday eve this turned into a 7 hour extravaganza as everyone in Western Europe seemingly attempted to make the migration to Italy for the Easter weekend, resulting in a bottle-neck of traffic trying to fit through the two tunnels joining Switzerland and Italy.  We really drew the short straw that night as the Italian Border Force also decided to stop our bus and search every person on board in the early hours of Good Friday morning.  However, after this delay we experienced our first dose of Italian hospitality with our Airbnb host waking up at 4am to come and collect us from a bus station out in the suburbs of Milan, even though we were arriving 5 hours late!
"I’m glad to say the rest of the trip brought up just as many challenges as that first night, because if it went smoothly the trip wouldn’t have been half as great.  From spending one night with the camper parked in a driveway on the edge of Lake Como so close to the road that the van swayed every time a truck drove past, to being pulled over by the police in Positano on the Amalfi Coast -  not for doing anything wrong - but because they feared our van was too big to fit on the narrow roads of the village and that we might risk cutting off the only road in and out of town…  All in all our adventures took us to Milan, Como, Pisa, Florence, Perugia, Rome, Naples, Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast, Ancona and to the Ferrari factory at Maranello."

I’m not huge on materialistic items, but anyone who knows me well will know that one of my childhood dreams is to own a red Ferrari.  With our last stop being the home of Ferrari in Maranello, the temptation was too great to resist and I was able to fulfil my dream by getting behind the wheel of a red Ferrari 458 Spyder.  It certainly did not disappoint, so it’s back to the books for me in May to chase the dream of one day being able to take home one of my own, but fulfilling this dream was one heck of a way to round out the trip of a lifetime, in what was the month of a lifetime on exchange!

Read all about Lachlan’s adventures in Zurich!
READ MORE of Lachlan's adventure