All Good Things Must Come to an End
Lachlan Arthur
ETH Zürich, Switzerland
Global Society Foundation Scholarship Recipient 2016​​​​​
Valerie Hoogstad Scholar Award Recipient 2016

June rolled around I knew the end of my exchange was near.  Now that I am home in Australia and can reflect on my time away I can certainly say the last month of my trip was by far the most hectic.  The last of my four research projects saw me work at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), a research institute shared by many of Switzerland’s universities and hospitals located halfway between Zurich and Basel.  This meant that each morning I would have a 90 minute train journey each-way from where I was living in Zurich, but my experiences there certainly made up for the early mornings and late evenings on the train.  My project at PSI was looking at additives which could be used to help form nanocrystals of the protein rhodopsin so that the ultrafast photoactivation state of the protein could be analysed.  Rhodopsin is the pigment in the eye responsible for night vision and is extremely sensitive to light, therefore all the experiments were completed in a small, pitch-black laboratory which added a new challenge to my research.  The long days in complete darkness eventually paid off however with some really interesting results coming out of the study
The ETH Zurich semester ended in early June, so that also brought about the exam period and the final submissions of my research papers, but once the hard work was over I once again had the opportunity to travel.  Going on exchange creates many once-in-a-lifetime experiences and forms relationships that last forever, and I got to experience this in another way by visiting the families in Witten, Germany that my Dad had lived with 34 years earlier when he participated in a Rotary Exchange program.  It was incredible to see the school he went to and visit the houses he had lived in.  The host families of my father were so welcoming, taking me all through the Ruhr Valley to visit the cities of Bonn, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Essen and Dortmund.  My adventures then took me to the UK to visit friends at Cambridge and Oxford.  As well as catching up with some friends I hadn’t seen for ages, it was also a good opportunity to get a feel for the ‘vibe’ of Cambridge and Oxford, both places that I would like to look at for study in the future.
After my trip to the UK, I made a quick stop back in Zurich to meet my girlfriend (who is also an Australian on exchange who I met on my second day in Switzerland in German class) who had just finished her exams to set off for one final adventure before it was time to go back to Australia.  Our first stop was Lisbon, Portugal which is one of the most amazing cities I have ever visited.  It feels like a city that has been pieced together from other ones, with the trams that go along the hilly streets and the 25 de Abril Bridge (which is strikingly similar to the Golden Gate Bridge) seemingly taken from San Francisco, the Sanctuario de Christo Rei (inspired by Christ the Redeemer) plucked from Rio de Janeiro and the brightly coloured streets and architecture (along with the amazing food!) which could easily be mistaken for Barcelona.

After Lisbon we then flew to Casablanca to get our first ever taste of Africa.  Casablanca was an adventure to say the least…  First was our surprise at the fact that the airport was 40 kilometres from the CBD, and next was the fact that we might have been the only tourists in Casablanca.  It wasn’t quite the place we had imagined from the movie, with the divide between men and women obvious and a lack of places to visit or eat that were accessible to tourists.  We were however able to visit the Hassan II Mosque which towers over the Atlantic Ocean.  As the mosque with the largest minaret in the world, and the largest open to non-Muslims, it was a spectacular site.  We then moved on to Marrakesh where we spent 6 days exploring the markets throughout the medina and avoiding the summer heat which topped 45 degrees Celsius!  We also took an overnight trip to Zagora in the South-East of Morocco to visit the Sahara desert.  We were able to do the stereotypical ride across the dunes on a camel and sleep under the stars at a Berber camp, and despite the artificial set-up, watching the sun set and rise over the dunes is something I will never forget and certainly a big tick off the bucket-list!  After our trip to the Sahara, all that was left to do was head back to Zurich and collect our bags to head back to Australia.  

Now that I am back at ANU and ready to start my next semester, I can properly reflect on the incredible time I had while I was away.  It allowed me to meet people who will be in my life forever, and gave me so many experiences that I honestly never thought I would have, and certainly not by the time I was 21!

"All of that couldn’t happen without a lot of support, and I would especially like to thank the Global Society, ANU and ETH Zurich for making my exchange possible and giving me an opportunity to learn lifelong skills and make lasting connections, all while having a wonderful time exploring the world."

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