Lion City: A Reminiscence & Life at CERN

It’s a beautiful Sunday morning, mid-July. I am on a train between Geneva and Zurich, sitting by the window, sipping coffee. Watching the passing scenery of Switzerland mountains on one side and Geneva lake on the other, I am trying to remember and pin-point the most important events of last few months.

It’s strange; it hasn’t been even two months since my Singaporean adventure came to an end, but looking back at it, it almost seems like it all happened in another life...  I have attended one of the most rewarding courses in my university life so far – Introduction to particle physics theory at National University of Singapore, I managed to get my dream summer internship and most importantly, met great people and saw wonderful places. 

I hopped on the iconic Star Ferry, getting the best views of the picturesque Hong Kong skyline, dined at Michelin-starred dim sum restaurant, rode a ding-ding (classical double-decker tram) or the famous world’s longest Central to Mid-Levels Escalator as a first-time traveller, absorbing Hong Kong’s culture and heritage. I visited Borneo, went island hopping, seeing some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen in my life with even more magical sunsets, hiked through a rainforest and experienced Borneo’s exotic wildlife, learning more about critically endangered orangutan species at Sepilok Rehabilitation Center. I also tried to cross out some of the must-go places in Singapore, chilling out at Marina Barrage, Clarke Quay or Sentosa beach after some long weeks of this intense academic year.

My year in Singapore had its good days, bad days and all in between. I won’t lie, it was one of the hardest challenges I have ever had to face, but also something I will benefit from for the rest of my life. Additionally, receiving the exam results, I managed to attain First Class even in my third year, stepping to my final year with the best possible position I could have – grade wise. This has also helped me greatly while securing my first-choice master’s project “Exotic contributions to double beta decay” with main goal of identifying and calculating novel decay models of double beta decaying isotopes.

But why am I in Switzerland now? As I mentioned, I managed to get my dream summer internship – at CERN! I am part of the Neutrino Group, working on a prototype of a new Super Fine-Grained Detector (SuperFGD) and its calibrating system for the T2K Near detector update in 2021. T2K is an experiment set in Japan, investigating neutrino oscillations and the possibility of neutrinos being Majorana particles (antiparticle and particle are the same).

Trust me when I say that for a particle physics student, there is no more inspirational and future-shaping experience than standing at the forefront of science and being somewhat associated with CERN. The idea of me having the CERN badge in my bag right now and being a part of this collaboration is surreal, especially in light of the fact that I have become, at least for a short time, a part of an institution where the Higgs boson was discovered and whose discovery was one of the major events shaping my interest in particle physics at its early stage.
To sum it up, I believe I have an exciting summer in front of me – spending time in the lab during the week and visiting Switzerland and France during the weekends. Finishing up at the end of August, I will have some time to move back to London, get ready for my final year, and also start looking for possible PhD opportunities after graduation because as they say – the carousel never stops turning.



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