by Rodrigo Gaston Cortinas. Published: 20 August 2013

Nine in the morning, the courses in the University of Buenos Aires were up to start but I needed a few more minutes for myself. I took a seat in the cafeteria of pavillion 1 and grabbed a booklet which often appears in the tables of the faculty, a sort of institutional newspaper. It looked used; fingerprints, dry drops of a dark liquid, probably tea, and a lot of marks left by repeated improper folding were all over the specimen. I went over it just to procrastinate my lecture. There, totally by chance, I came across a box under the title "CERN summer programme"; I tore the page and as a little ball I put it in my pocket while heading to the classroom. That night I applied.

A once in a life time chance taken, and here I am, trying to get the very best out of my stage as a summer student. The location is beautiful, surrounded by green crops, mountains (among them La Dame Blanche) and science. Working here is extremely gratifying. Here progress is driven by passion and devotion as I experienced myself working for the ALICE TPC upgrade.

The particular grain of sand in which I am involved is the study of stability in GEM (Gas Electron Multipliers). These detectors will replace the current ones by 2018, given that after LS2 the luminosity of the beam in the LHC will be far too high to stick to the actual methods of measurement.

I find that being a summer student at CERN is an extremely enriching experience both academically and personally. Academically, I think that pointing out that I (as an undergraduate student) am working in a prototype for the LHC that is going to be implemented in 5 years is a pretty compelling argument to state that this is a beautiful way of learning. At the personal level: the other summer students that I met (and with whom I spend a big part of my free time) are extremely interesting persons. It is clear from the first moment that each of us has a very unique background of knowledge and perceptions so the day-to-day activities are just a trip around the world, driven by bright intellects.

My experience so far has been unsurpassable and so can my friends here voice for themselves; I even had the pleasure to take my grandfathers down to the experimental caverns when they paid me a visit to see CERN. Time flies while enjoying your working hours, the lectures and the beautiful activities that the summer in Geneva has to offer (I can mention among them hiking/biking in the Alps, sight-seeing the city and surroundings, festivals, the lake, barbecues, parties...).