Saturday, April 4, 2009

Spring Break in Mexico

From March 14th to March 29th I was in Mexico for my Spring Break. For two weeks of adventure I met up with various friends from Switzerland in Mexico City:

  • Philip (Johnny)

  • Yves (Stizzy)

  • Tobias (Tobster)

  • Alessandro (Sancho)

Vamos! What did I like about Mexico:

Amazing food always in reach (<5m)

I've never seen a country where it was possible to eat basically everywhere. Although you probably shouldn't eat just anywhere. Small food places seam all the streets in thousands. Mostly families that cook to survive and everybody is somehow involved in the cooking process. The babies play in the dirt on the street. The mother cooks next to the garbage, the daugther helps serving the food and the dad advertizes... family business.

Cactus Salad (Ensalada De Nopalitos)

Freshly sliced cactus, quickly cooked so it is still firm... absolutely tasty! If you go to Mexico you have to try it.

Tamarindo Candy

Little girls and boys sell it on the street in plastic bags. There are two versions, the sweet version and the one with chillie. You open the bag and take your finger to scoop the candy out. Fingerlicking good!


A churro is a dessert sold on the street. It is a long stick out of potato dough coverd in sugar. It is possible to fill them with chocolate or other delicious liquids.

I just noticed that I only wrote about food... of course there are the Mexican people which made my stay there extremely enjoyable. It was extremely easy to talk to them and the girls seemed to be interested in tall, white, blue-eyed guys. Interactions with people on markets, in night clubs, bars on the beach and just friends of Philip made this stay very unique. I could definitely build a solid base for my Spanish and hope to continue improving it. 

Already now I miss the vibe of the life in Mexico and think that I will definitely go again to explore the south east and learn about the Mayas. 

We checked out the following places. Click on the link to see the pictures, I added a description to each album:

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Seattle 2009

Long time no hear :-) It is already February and it is about time that I write about all the crazy things that happened in the past months. Let's do it.

Skiing trip in Big White (Canada)
With 17 other international students I went to Canada to ski for a weekend. To make the seven hours bus drive more enjoyable we were watching tons of Family guy, The Bank Job, Stepbrothers, What happens in Las Vegas and other highly rated movies. The snow up in Big White was amazing as you will see on the photos. It felt like in heaven.
Photos: Skiing in Big White

Bike Trip to Golden Garden Beach
Last Friday was such a beautiful day that my housemates Thomas, Moritz and me decided to go on a bike tour! The sunset was indescribably beautiful and I defintely would have loved to share it with some among you. But that's why you should check out the pictures. It was stunning!
Photos: Bike Trip to Golden Garden Beach

Photo sessions
Lately I really started to like taking photos. I collected some of the better shots and put it in an album for you guys. There won't be much pictures of me. The people in the pictures are Michael, James, Frida who are as well fascinated by photography. For one trip I borrowed a Canon Rebel XTI DSLR camera and I fell in love at first sight.
Photos: Photo sessions

Random things
See random every day shots from my life in Seattle. We had many dinners at home together and parties at friends places.
Photos: Random stuff

Internship for the summer
Currently I am looking for an internship in the summer. I had interviews with Google, Microsoft, and so far. For the nerds under you I want to share some of the technical questions that they asked me during the interviews:

  1. Given a huge file of integers that doesn't fit into main memory devise an algorithm to sort all the numbers.

  2. Given a directed acyclic graph represented in the form of an adjacency list, devise an algorithm that prints all the nodes such that the children are always printed before the parents.

  3. Devise an algorithm that detects a cycle in a linked list.

  4. Given an array of integers devise an algorithm that finds the maximum subarray. That means that the numbers in the contiguous subarray sum up to the maximum subsum.

  5. Given a string devise an algorithm that reports all palindromes contained in the string.

That's it for the moment! I hope to see you all soon! Visitors are always welcome.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Rockin' the winter break

To the ocean and back
December 16th was a beautiful day so I thought: "Why not going to the open ocean today". While all my friends stayed in Seattle I felt like doing a little trip and get out. So I rented a car from enterprise (good deals) and started driving. I arrived at the open ocean just shortly before sunset and could almost finish my book "The Great Gatsby". On the way to the ocean I drove through the birth place of Kurt Cobain. Beside the lumber industry there isn't much to see there... very boring place if the ocean wouldn't be that close. You will find an overview of the itinerary in the photo album.

Skiing in Whistler
Just before Christmas my Danish friend Ras and me went skiing to Whistler. We took the train from Seattle to Vancouver which was an adventure by itself. To get to the train station in time we both got up at 4am to our surprise it was snowing crazily in the morning and of course we missed our bus. We were on time, we were sure that it came to early! Is there something more frustrating than an early bus or tram? Well anyway, we still made in downtown with the bus and then had to run the last mile, a very white mile. Me with my suitcase in the front leading the way, Ras suffering with his skis and his suitcase in the back, me yelling at him he should run faster but never stopping to keep him going... just one minute later the train departed. After this spurt we were very pleased to have such royal seats where even tall men can stretch out there legs. The only problem was the Chinese people all around us eating weird and very intensely smelling chicken for breakfast. Seriously, this woman ate a whole chicken for breakfast. Digusting - but we had a good laugh.

In Vancouver we had a meal break: my aunt picked us up and fed us with pasta. Our chef Ben cooked marvelous pasta. We were barely able to walk after that and Ras whished he was as cool as my uncle :)

Finally we arrived in Whistler: -28° C. Not very much snow. The other day a pole of one of the few lifts that were running broke and several people got injured. Great. At least it was sunny and I had great company. Usually there is lots of snow in Whistler because it is located in the coastal range, the first big elevation for the precipitation coming in from the ocean. Usually it is mild in Whistler because of the sea. Good advice: go only to Whistler if there is a lot of snow. Another advice: Take care going to the hot tub when experiencing huge temperature differences from the water to the air. It messed our whole metabolism up for almost a day :)

Christmas in Vancouver B.C.
Already the second time that I spend Christmas in Vancouver but the first time that there was snow - a lot of snow! It basically started snowing on the 23rd and did never stop until I left Vancouver on the 26th in the evening. I didn't shovel that much snow in a long time but it was a welcoming change to the 1000 piece puzzle we were trying to solve inside.
On the 24th in the evening Marianne, Luca and me had a Swiss Fondue. Our chef Ben was out cooking a delicious meal for a neighbor. It was okay because he is probably not the Fondue specialist and we knew that he will be anyway cooking for us on the 25th :D We even had guests over on the 25th, so I could practice my socializing skills a little bit ;)
All in all I had a wonderful time at my aunt's place as every time I go there. They are very nice people!

Sun bathing in San Diego
In one of the most sophisticated escapes in the US ever I escaped from the snowy, grey and dreadful prison Seattle :) Trust me, you don't want to be in Seattle when it snows too much. The city almost stopped living. Cab drivers wouldn't pick up the phone, public transport wouldn't run, but I made it to the airport somehow to take off into a complete different world: San Diego. I got a wonderful tan, could wear my sun glasses and my brand new Obama t-shirt for the first time.
I flew all alone to San Diego but by coincidence Arno and his girlfriend were there too. Have a look at the picture to get a sense of how 25°C and blue sky feel.

San Diego - Las Vegas with the Aussies
In San Diego I met up with three Australians. One of them is Bronwyn aka Bron. She told me that she will spend New Years with friends in Las Vegas just like me so we made a deal and I could persuade them to come along to a roadtrip with me. Her friends are Stephanie aka Steph and Jeniffer aka Jen. I knew that the roadtrip would be a blast if Bron's friends were only half as funny as her... and they successfully managed.
We had a great Italian dinner in Yuma, bought a good bottle of wine and watched Chris Rock on TV in the motel until I passed out. Well they partied on a little longer and I think they took some pictures of me when I was asleep... which I unfortunately don't have ;)

Partying into the new year in Las Vegas
How is New Years Eve in Las Vegas? Let me tell you! At 11:30pm we made our way to the strip to see the fireworks outside. The strip was completely packed with people from south to north. It was barely possible to move. Being tall enough we could make it to the MGM to see the big countdown. This thing was HUGE! So all of us getting all excited when the countdown started from 25, counting down, 20, 10, ... , 3, 2, 1 - nothing :D Hugging everybody but there were no fireworks except for a little "hansheiri" one. So everybody left the strip again...
Fortunately I had seen an exciting show before New Year. We saw Cirque de Soleil's Ka show for free and even got a backstage tour after the show. The whole stage is massive and takes eight stories of the MGM... huge lifts, lots of lights, impressive projectors! It was a wonderful show!
After that we went dancing until the early morning which was simply wonderful. I had a great time with you Dutchies :)

Las Vegas - Seattle with Christian & Ras
Already on January 1st we took off again direction Seattle! Christian, the coolest American guy I know so far, started out very early in the morning from Phoenix to pick Ras and me up in front of the Excalibur hotel. These were all the ingredients we needed for an awesome roadtrip. What I should mention right here is that Christian has a huge knowledge about the USA in general and he could answer almost every question Ras and me had. Very impressive! The roadtrip wouldn't have been the same without you, thank you very much!!
First stop: Salt Lake City - capitol of the Mormons.
Christian had a friend living here, Lauren, her family was so nice to give us shelter for a night, awesome waffles in the morning and then we took Lauren to to downtown Salt Lake City and the great salt flats. It is impressive how many people are Mormons - 60% of the whole Utah population are Mormons. Mormonism is very close to Christianity - they have an additional book and a few other additional things which are all listed on wikipedia. At the temple square we got more information and Lauren told us that the "family" plays a very important role in the Mormonism. Fathers will learn how to become better fathers and take care of the family and mothers will learn how to be better mums. Lauren & family: thank you very much for letting us stay with you!
Second stop: Idaho
- capitol of cowboys & girls
After a late start from Salt Lake City and a long drive we arrived at around 2:30am at a ranch close to Jerome in Idaho, to me everything just seemed pitch black. Friends of Christian again. This time I knew one son of the family though because we took one class together at UW. The next morning we found out that we were staying at the ranch house of the most welcoming American family I ever met so far. It was incredible. Very nice people! I got up to go outside and enjoy the weather when Jim spotted me and pointed out that his wife makes the best breakfast :) Diane, she actually made the ultimate best breakfast: Steak and Eggs. My first time, it was more like lunch though.
After that we got a tour around their 1800 acres ranch. They grow cows to eat them later and barley to drink beer later. Jim said that we should buy US beef, simply buy it you don't have to eat it. And we should buy Budweiser, simply buy it but you don't have to drink it :) Meeting this American family was a great American experience! Ras and me loved the place very much and I think Christian too, he simply can't handle the snow, haha :D

That's it for today.

Monday, December 8, 2008


"Endlich wieder mal in Deutsch" sagt die älteste Leserin meines Blogs wahrscheinlich in diesem Moment - mit 90 Jahren schwebt meine Grosi auf der Web2.0 Cloud: surfin USA.

Mir geht's nach wie vor wundertüten-gut in Seattle. Nächsten Donnerstag ist bei mir das erste Quarter vorbei. Warum Donnerstag? Warum nicht? Noch verbleiben jedoch vier intensive Tage hinter den Büchern und dem Laptop.
Trotz des intensiven Studiums konnte ich einige Exkursionen unternehmen, es gibt ja schliesslich einen ganzen Kontinent zu entdecken...

  • Seattle Underground Tour
    Auf Exursion im Untergrund von Seattle; auf dieser Tour steigt man unter die Strassen um die Strassen im 18. Jahrhundert zu begutachten. Weil die Städtebauer von Seattle den ewigen Schlamm satt hatten haben Sie beschlossen alle Strassen mit Dreck aufzufüllen und das Strassenniveau um ein Stockwerk zu erhöhen. Wenn man also untertags schreitet besteigt man die ursprünglichen Strassen in Seattle (mehr Infos).

  • Rollerskating
    Jeden Freitag hat man die Möglichkeit auf "the original Rollerskates" durch die Turnhallen unseres Sportkomplexes zu düsen. Eine ganz spezielle Art von Tanz. Ich als alter Eishockeyaner dachte das Ganze sei überhaupt kein Klaks, aber mit vier Rädern fühlt sichs schon ein bisschen anders als auf dem Eis an.

  • Bainbridge Island
    An Line's Geburtstag haben wir mit der Fähre einen Ausflug auf die Hausinsel von Seattle gemacht: Bainbridge Island. Wunderschöner Trip, Wind im Haar, heisser Tee in den Händen, Sonne im Gesicht - hat gut getan.

  • Houseparty
    Wir hatten gleich zwei Geburtstage in Folge zu feiern, darum haben wir eine kleine Fete in unserem Haus geschmissen. Die Fotos dazu sind selbsterklärend und nicht vollständig.

  • Ballard & Discovery Park - the Scandinavian neighborhood
    Mit meinem schwedischen Büro-Kumpadre hab ich einen kleinen Nachmittagsausflug ins skandinavische Quartier in Seattle gemacht. Schlussendlich haben wir einen wahrhaften Marsch hingelegt, aber Martin's Skandinavien-Heimweh konnten wir garantiert stillen. Er hat überteuerte Import Waren gekauft :)

  • Vancouver B.C.
    Unter lautem Truthahn-Gekreische und ums Leben rennen habe ich für das Thanksgiving Wochenende die USA verlassen. Thanksgiving, weil die Amerikaner sich für die grosszügige Ernte bedanken: Erntedankfest mit religiösen Wurzeln, heute gehts aber nur ums Truthahnschlachten (Sarah Palin gibt ein Interview während ein Truthahn im Hintergrund geköpft wird) und fein schlemmen. Meine Destination war Vancouver B.C., wo mich meine Tante an der Busstation herzlich in Empfang nahm. Der Nissan Altima hat uns zu ihrem wunderschönen Haus gebrach, wo ich dann einige Tage entspannen konnte. Ben hat uns ein himmlisches Thanksgiving Meal hingezaubert, Grappa gabs dann auch noch.
    Am nächsten Tag sind dann auch noch ein paar Mitstudenten von Seattle in Vancouver dazugestossen und wir haben die Stadt unsicher gemacht.

Wie gesagt, am Donnerstag ist Schluss für mich und ich werde die ersten Ferientage wohl erstmal mit Auspannen - von morgens bis abends - verbringen. Dann gehts schon bald in die Skiferien nach Whistler, Weihnachten in Vancouver, San Diego, mit dem Auto nach Las Vegas entlang der mexikanischen Grenze und dann per Auto von Las Vegas zurück nach Seattle. Ich werde Utah mit seinem Mormonenhauptquartier, Idaho und Washington durchfahren. Ich werde diese Fahrt mit einem amerikanischen Freund namens Christian unternehmen.
So, jetzt wünsche Euch allen eine gute Advents- und Weihnachtszeit. Viel Glück bei den Prüfungen. Man hört sich bestimmt noch einmal vor Weihnachten. Mal im Skype nach meinen Prüfungen.

So jetzt ab an die Fotos. Hier die Links:

Monday, November 10, 2008

Halloween, Elections & more

Yes, we can! Obama was elected as the new president of the United States of America the last week. Not a lot changed since then but Flavio can still tell a lot of new stories. The past weeks were the perfect opportunity to make real American experiences. Let me start with it.

Rain: Rubber boots can be fashionable
Seattle is probably the only place on planet earth where rubber boots are really fashionable. The rain season started here and you may wish to type "weather seattle" in google to find out what the weather is here right now. The weather forecast hasn't much to do because they can just copy the forecast of the previous day and use it for the next day. The variety of rain boots is incredible! You might want to look at this link. Aren't the colors incredible :) ?

Man on fire
No, this isn't the perfect Halloween costume: A tragic incident happened on the Campuson the day of Halloween. A man set himself on fire on the red square, which is the main square of the university (something like the Polyterasse). The brave reader can read the story here and look at pictures: Students rush to save a man who set himself on fire.

Halloween was another American key experience! Already a month before October 31st you can start buying costumes and other Halloween utilities. Halloween is one of the biggest festivals here: For the children it is a paradise because of the trick-or-treating, where they proceed from house to house to ask for candy (treats). If they don't get any they will play tricks on the house owners. For all the older people it is the perfect opportunity to act like a child. My costume was Kellog's Tony the Tiger. I already owned a t-shirt with Tony on it so the only things I needed were a mask and Frosted Flakes ;) Plus some random golden chains which made me the hip hop version of Tony the Tiger. Look at the pictures to find out more about my dress and see how my friends dressed up.
There is one comment I want to make about the costumes of the US girls: for most of them Halloween is a great opportunity to dress up in a really slutty way. Most of them are wearing skirts that barely cover anything... it is up to you to judge if that is good or bad.
This is actually not the last comment I will make because I could be part of another really American experience: a fraternity party. A fraternity is a brotherhood with a Greek name (Pi-Kappa-Alpha or Alpha-Beta-Gamma). Membership is limited to men and the own big houses close to campus and people say that they are crazy, drink a lot and have huge house parties. So on the day before Halloween we could get into one house and I have to confirm; it is like in the movies. They have a huge house with a huge party basement. Loads of drunk people doing dirty dancing, that's probably the best description and that's were I stop.

Election Night
Wow, election night was a blast! The atmosphere was incredible - basically it felt like French revolution back in 1789. US citizens and even all the international people felt absolutely happy that Obama got elected. The alternative was simply ridiculous (Muhahahaha). After watching the election ralley at a friends place we went to Capitol Hill to a bar to watch Obama's great speech and after that every single soul started marching downtown for the manifestetion of Obama! Absolutely insane! Ten thousands of people were marching in downtown Seattle, the streets were packed and everybody huged and high-fived the next person. Great atmosphere.
What was a bit astonishing is that everybody was still so sceptic until the last minute whether Obama will win or not. Now he is there and he will move into the White House soon.

Seattle neighborhoods
Seattle has many many beautiful neighborhoods. Most of them though have a really small core. I checked out Seattle Center. This is were the world fair in 1962 took place. They built the Space Needle, a monorail and other very futuristic things. On another day I discovered to the international district to see the small Chinatown they have here. Please have a look at the pictures.

Look at the pictures

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Road trip to Portland

The recipe is easy to remember:
1 car (max $30)
1 Portland
2 pumpkin
1 Frida
1 Petter
1 Ras
1 Moritz
1 Flavio
1 beautiful day

If you mix all those ingredients together you will get one of the funniest days I had so far in Seattle. Part of my house mates and me made a road trip to Portland Oregon. Portland lies South of Seattle and it is about a three hour car drive. Have a look at Google Maps

If you want to be part of it you need to look at the pictures and videos in my photo album: Portland
The pictures pretty much explain all the fun we had on our trip. In the end of October the Americans celebrate Halloween - so we went spontaneously to pick a pumpkin on the way to Portland. Portland itself is a really beautiful and relaxed city. If you ever have the chance, go there. But now let me write about an other thing.

Going to the gym in the US
If you were wondering why students pay a hell lot of tuition here in the US, I have the answer: To build amazing sport complexes (like this one). You have pretty much everything in there: Swimming pool, many basketball courts, many indoor tennis courts, many indoor squash courts, indoor climbing... you won't believe that you can fit all of this in one building - somehow they manage. The nice thing is that every student can get a locker for free in the locker rooms. Towels & soap to shower are for free too: so no need to carry around your towel all the time! I signed up for Squash classes and go regularly to the gym to do some weightlifting. The weight lifting room is a world for itself. Huge guys and a lot of equipment: Hammer Strength, the real stuff. Most of the guys that are serious about weight lifting drink their protein shakes after the training to build up their muscles (So the stereotype has been proofed correctly). There is actually a place right by the exit of the gym where you can get smoothies and shakes. All in all: it is a lot of moaning and a huge show off. I actually go and show off too with my new purple Husky outfit :)

I am looking forward to write more stories!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Purple and Gold - colors of a Husky

I am safe and sound in Seattle! I am actually already since about twenty days here: I got settled and I started my studies at the Computer Science & Engineering department of the University of Washington in Seattle. So it is about time to please your minds with some new stories!

7th heaven
I am living in a house with six other international students in Capitol Hill (Click here for map). The location is great because the house is nicely situated between Downtown Seattle and the University District. Our neighbors have huge houses, and nice cars - it seems to be a pretty safe area.
I was totally frustrated when I arrived in Seattle and found out that I got a spot in the university residence hall in a triple room! That means three people in one tiny room! I had a look at it and decided to find another place to live in. The dorm just looked awful and all the other people living there are freshmen (18 years old)!
By happy coincidence I ran into other international students having the same problem and I joined them to look together for a house to share... and a few days later we found this amazing house I am living in now with the coolest people. That's why I want to shortly introduce each and everyone of them: Click here for picture.

  • Frida (Denmark)
    Tall, blond and good-looking Frida is studying architecture. She has a great style, dresses really cool and likes to fool around. She talks about houses as if they were living creatures that interact: it sounds terrific and you can see her passion about it burning in her eyes! What I really liked was how she climbed on a dumping side digging for useful stuff for our house: a rocking chair for our porch! She is a great entertainer, "maker" and seems super independent. It is great to look at her when she is excited about something.

  • Line (Denmark)
    Line is the Danish princess - because she has such nice skin (that's what an Asian guy thought ;D). She married the man of her life shortly before she came here to Seattle. She likes as well to fool around, to dance and sing. She has great skills when it comes to second hand shopping and when she smiles she looks really cute!

  • Katy (England)
    Katy is a little bit more shy than the other ladies and moved in just lately. The first thing she brought was this awesome hat stand. So we can actually throw our hats on it as soon as we enter the house. She is a great actress with the greatest British accent and she should show us some more of it :).

  • Ras (Denmark)
    Ras is an incredibly nice guy. You can feel that he is happy and that he somehow understood what is important in life. He is tall and slim, just like me (and has the same problems when buying clothes). Other great characteristics: generous, helpful, great mediator and absolutely funny! He built a tennis court with his dad and thinks about marrying! That's mature.

  • Petter (Sweden)
    Petter is another Scandinavian. He is the chef of our house - he pleasures our senses with great food! He is a real gourmet. Looks good all the time and is a little bit vain. He's style is very cool and he sometimes looks like he owns IKEA - I though never figured that out. And finally: he is my tennis teacher!

  • Moritz (Germany)
    The German! He is football player and beer trinker. He actually just made it in the university soccer team! We actually manage to not talk German - which is quite magnificent. A very funny guy - he especially likes to joke about Scandinavians. He is here to party and meet girls :P... and he likes the attention.

University Life
People at University of Washington (UW) are really welcoming. I am now a grad student in the Computer Science and Engineering department. I have a desk and a computer in an office that I share with three other people! Infrastructure is pretty good here, actually just as good as back at ETH. The main reason is Microsoft which provides my department with pretty descent funding!
The campus in general is absolutely beautiful. There is a gorgeous fountain and buildings that remind you of Harry Potters school. It feels absolutely awesome to go to school here.

Purple and Gold
The colors of the University of Washington (UW) are gold and purple -the mascot is a husky. So everybody is supposed to dress in those colors and act like a husky! Go Huskies go! For me it is really impressive to feel the school spirit they have here at UW - there is nothing like that at ETH Zurich. Everybody is proud to go to school here, walks around with UW t-shirts and cheers for the college football team! I bought tickets for the whole season to watch all the games! Every game is a big festival with more than 50'000 fans that go crazy! It is insane! So check out my pictures from the football game to get an idea!

Click here to browse all the new pictures!