Parlez-vous français ?

I first started trying to learn French when I planned to moved to Geneva to work at CERN for my PhD. I took a few lessons and downloaded a podcast, but when I actually arrived, and was surrounded by Brits, or English speaking colleagues, I quickly found that other tasks took higher priority and I didn’t get any further than ordering food at a restaurant.

La tour D'Eiffel However, when I accepted a post-doc in Paris, I knew things would be different. Officially the work was in English since I would still be working with the same international researchers at CERN that I was before. But this time I was moving out on my own, so I wasn’t going to have a large British group of friends, and I had been warned that many of the engineers and support staff that I would be working with either didn’t speak English, or strongly preferred speaking French. Not to mention all of the daily life tasks I would have to face, such as finding an apartment. This was OK. In fact, it was one of the reasons looked outside of the UK for my first post-doc; I was tired of being the only monolingual in a crowd of bi-, tri- and even poly-linguals! I had to learn at least one language and moving somewhere I was going to be forced to speak it was the only way it was going to happen.

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How do you spend your rest and relaxation time?

In physics, as in running, how you manage your rest time is just as important as how you spend your time working (or training).

I am currently preparing for a long-distance race in April, so even though I have a to-do list that extends onto multiple pages, this gives me the motivation to take time away from my computer and get outside. Yesterday I went for a run along the La Seine, up to the famous Notre Dame cathedral and down to Luxembourg gardens. It was a beautiful sunny day, but the temperature was around freezing. Below are a few photographs I stopped to take along the way.

How do you spend your time off? Let me know in the comments below!