Switzerland – Weeks 6 & 7

Hard Works Deserves a Break… and Long Hours in the Office

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Big Ben & Parliament

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Abbey Road Studios
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Big Ben

Bonjour!

The last two weeks were a fairly mixed bag of events. From burying myself in writing and research at the UN from 9am-8pm, to skipping across the English Channel to visit London. I know the last few entries may have eluded to my time here in Switzerland as a vacation, and in many ways it has been, but the work I am doing has been tough. It is hard to put into words on this blog of the work I am doing…. It’s a desk job and usually staring at excel spreadsheets or reading the latest reports on new policies. But more importantly, I am learning a lot. The experience I am gaining and confidence that I am developing is coming onto me quickly. It is moments like when I am sitting in a bar and having an educated discussion with other interns do I appreciate what I am learned; bear in mind I am discussing this with kids who either studied or are currently studying at schools like Yale, Stanford, Columbia, etc. That is a pretty great feeling. Although I love all of this, I really needed a break. AndIMG_2729 what better than to visit a country where English isn’t just common, but where it’s the official language.. England!

When an opportunity to visit London came, I took it. Besides the obvious historical site seeing and fun pub endeavors, I did do some minor ‘research’, if you will, be accident. The hostel I stayed at in London was situated attached to/on top of a local pub. Not bad, right? After doing the typical site seeing, I got to end my day with a pint or two (or three) and listen into the local affairs in assorted accidents that we only hear on BBC. One night I was having a pint and a like aged German couple, also on ‘holiday’, struck up a conversation with me. We were all in college, foreigners, with many curiosities to explore. They fielded me the typical American stereotype questions: “Is it true that you put cheese on everything, “yeah, why limit life?”, Are American food portions really as big as people say? “What can I say, we like a good value”,…are you catching my drift? We are fat, America, everyone is aware about it, and maybe a little concerned. Seriously, nearly 90% of the questions I receive from others is related to our food habits… *sigh*.

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Bike Sharing Station – These were all throughout London

However, when it came time for me to ask questions, I only had one thing on my mind: Energiewende. Well, two if I’m honest… I wanted to talk to them about Oktoberfest..

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Westminster Abbey

Anyhow, when I began researching my potential research topics, the German Energiewende or “energy transition” constantly came up during my searches. The Energiewende is a suite of German policies with the intent to transition away from fossil fuels and nuclear sources and towards renewable energy.

This has resulted into rapid deployment of technologies like solar PV and wind power in both large and small scale. The German model is widely considered the poster child for renewable energy policy. So, since the international community loved the idea, I wanted to know what Germans, and more importantly, Germans of my generations thought of the policy. Their response? They both said, simultaneously, that the transition wasn’t happening fast enough. Incredible. The imperative to invest in cleaner energy sources is instilled in them, and neither of them studied in field where climate change would be on any syllabus. It was so enlightening to hear how the youth in Germany really take clean energy seriously and not just as some sort of packaged “eco-fad” that, frankly, exists in America. It was refreshing.

After the glorious time in London, I had to come back to one hell of week. My supervisor was out of town all week on various missions and left me to review a report that we had been working on since day 1. To cut to the chase, this was the “menu of policy and technology options” report that we were able to finish a draft last week. We submitted to my supervisor’s boss, and received the comments on Monday morning. I am in the office to work on it, but my supervisor wasn’t, nor would he all week. Convenient. Nonetheless, I agreed with most of the comments and understood the direction in which she wanted the facts and information to be presented. I ended up sitting down with her to try and fully understand where she saw this going… basically, we were going to have to re-write or re-phrase most of the paper. Oh, joy. The week was spent entirely on this paper, and this coming week will be as well. Hopefully now that my supervisor will be back, we can make some serious strides.

That’s it for now, sorry for the lack of substance, but the policy work is very monotonous, important, but very boring.

Au revoir!

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