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July 6, 2013

Meet the Locals #14 – Laura Suarez, Chemical Engineer, PhD Student from Colombia

Cristina Vezzaro

Laura non l’ho solo incontrata. Con Laura ho vissuto per un anno e mezzo, qualche tempo fa, quando era studentessa di ingegneria al Politecnico di Torino e mi aiutava nella gestione della quotidianità con i bambini. La tesi l’ha scritta in Svizzera, poi, dopo un periodo in Colombia, è tornata in Europa per un dottorato. Ladies and Gentlemen, è con orgoglio che vi presento Laura.

Your name, age and job?

Laura Victoria Suárez Murillo, 27, Chemical Engineer, PhD Student in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Where are you from?

Medellín, Colombia.

What would you be if you were not a Chemical Engineer? / What do you want to be when you grow up?

Biologist or Musician. I find great inspiration in both, the synergy between the living beings and the elements amazes me every single day and I find really sad the fact that the human behaviour is altering such balance. And music… music to me is the greatest creation ever! It communicates, it brings you memories, it cheers you up, drags you down, it awakes your hidden passions, it calms you down… Like a spirit who knows exactly how to get you. And, I would like to be a Farmer, when I grow up ; ) 

How long have you lived in Lausanne and why did you first come?

I have been living here for almost three months, and I came to do a PhD in the Advanced Oxidation Processes Group, at the EPFL. I lived for a few years in Turin and a couple of months in Zurich, for my Master Thesis. Back in Italy I was a Master student and an “Au Pair”. These were life changing experiences. Other than learning a little bit of Italian (German is too difficult and six months are not enough), living abroad started forming me as a world inhabitant, I keep my Colombian culture (very proud of that) but still, I am very open to learn from other cultures and respect them. 

What is the best thing to do (what do you like doing ) in Lausanne?

Since I am relatively new here and I still have this urge of “seeing as much as I can” I would say that the best thing to do is visiting the towns nearby the City. From my point of view Switzerland’s charm is the nature. There are so many lakes, rivers, mountains, animals, trees and what I find delightful is that one can perceive that there is in fact some sort of harmony between daily human life and ecosystems. In the city you can walk around the centre and enjoy a great view of the city, the lake and the mountains from the cathedral.

Is there something you don’t like about Lausanne?

Well, I think that things are a bit expensive. Transportation, flying tickets, rent. But it is something you can deal with if you are smart enough to always look for more economic options.

What is the craziest thing you have done in Lausanne?

Coming here with no knowledge of the French language whatsoever is already a bit crazy. For new crazy experiences I will have to stay longer.

Where would you live if not in Lausanne?

London! I was there only for 6 hours and I found it fascinating. For the first time I felt very comfortable speaking, it seems like people are very open and polite, there are great universities, great research institutions and you get to know people from ALL around the world, that would be a chance to learn about the rest of the world, and this from the best sources ever: the citizens of each different country.

Have you ever been to Italy?

As I mentioned before, just Turin.

What did you like / did not like about it?

I feel something special about Turin because that is the place where I spent very decisive years of my life. I got used to life there very easily, the city is not huge but big enough, transportation system is not complicated at all and you can go pretty much everywhere on foot or by bicycle, the centre and its surroundings are wonderfully charged with hundreds of years of history and if you are a soccer fan you have the stadium right there, where you could have the chance to see the once world champions! I mean, whatever you like, Turin has something to offer so you can be pleased. There is nothing I don’t like about Turin, I can’t help it, thinking about this city brings back only very good memories.

Anything else you would like to add?

When I was little, I always used to read the same books. I remember in a very specific way the pictures and the illustrations. Then I grew up and I got to see things like the Bremen Musicians statue in Bremen, the Gaudí’s buildings in Barcelona and the Victoria Memorial in London, things that I thought I would be able to see just there in my favourite books… This is something that still gives me joy and encourages me to go, fly and see the rest of the world.


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