Wednesday, October 31, 2007

October 26-31

Happy Halloween!
Due to an influx of American culture, Europe has recently been celebrating Halloween. This change has come about in probably the last 10 years. Trick-or-treating is not too popular yet, or at least not too productive since there are few people that hand out candy. Halloween parties, on the other hand, are becoming more and more popular for adults and children alike. People dress up and get together to have a good time in an age-appropriate way. Candy corn is and unknown obscurity here, and it wasn't until I shared some with some of my friends here(compliments of a care package for my awesome former-roomie!, did I realize that, you know, it doesn't really even look like corn.

Speaking of food, I had my first Swiss fondue last night. Not my first fondue ever, just my first since coming here. There was a free dinner for the exchange students. It was fantastic, and not only because it was free. (Fondue from a restaurant runs at 20-25 francs/person.) After a while though, the white wine taste of the cheese gets a little sickening; too much of a good thing I suppose.

To continue with the food theme, I had Pakastani food for the first time on Saturday. It was terrific. A friend of mine from my Mechanical Engineering classes invited me to her home in Geneva for a Birthday dinner. There were about a dozen or so other students, mostly MechE's, there as well. It was nice to get to know a few of my classmates a little better. It was also nice to communicate almost exclusively in French. My friend had asked me to bring an apple pie, which was fun for me because I got to make another pie (not quite as pretty as the first.) It was also nice, because before she asked for the pie, I was not sure what would be culturally appropriate to bring. It's apple season now, so I had purchased some really cheap apples (about $0.70/lb). Since I had a bunch of apples left over, I made some applesauce (compote in French) on Sunday. It was delicious.

In other news, I've arranged to do an internship with a professor here. For the next 10 weeks I'm going to work 6 hours per week on a research project under his supervision. For the other half of the internship, starting next semester, I think that I am going to work for two PH.D. students in a Turbomachine laboratory. This semester's project is part of a larger initiative to recreate the "Dufaux 4." The Dufaux brothers were aviation pioneers from Geneva; essentially the Wright brothers of Switzerland. Their original aircraft is on display in a transportation museum in Luzern, Switzerland. I intend to visit the museum in the near future. If you want to read more about their plane, you can check out this link:
The project I'm collaborating with is called "Faux Dufaux." ( My part is going to involve computer modeling of the "Dufaux 4" airfoils. There is a lack of quantitative information about the aircraft, since the Dufaux brothers were more entrepreneurs than they were scientists. Before designing airplanes, the Dufaux brothers owned a motorcycle business, which is ironic, because before their debut as aviation pioneers, the Wright brothers ran a bicycle shop. Apparently two-wheeled transportation inspires people to build airplanes. I really enjoy biking, I wonder...
Anyway, to get back to my point, it is unknown whether the wing design used on the plane was original or existing technology. It is more likely the latter. I am going to use information collected from a laser scan of the nearly 100 year-old biplane to model the two-dimensional wing profiles and compare them with other airfoils from the time. I'm pretty excited about this project. I will eventually create a report and presentation of what I learn, in order to earn credit from Iowa State. Ironically, this internship is for my French degree, not my Aerospace Engineering degree.

Other than that, my week has been pretty laid back. I watched a couple movies, did some knitting, took a few walks, ran a bit. I'm continuing to improve my French. I have good French days and bad French days. Usually the bad French days are also the days I have trouble staying awake in class. It's tiring to think in another language, and my French comprehension is closely linked to how much energy I have. It's a vicious circle, but it's getting better and better all the time.

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