On Thursday 3rd of November at 6am twenty four A-level physics students and four teachers met at Manchester Airport to catch a plane to Geneva for the annual physics trip to CERN. Considering the early hour, everyone was surprisingly enthusiastic. We landed around lunchtime, which was too early to check into the youth hostel but gave us time to take a more scenic route and stop at Lake Geneva for lunch. Following this we checked in at the hostel, then caught a tram to Geneva University for an astronomy lecture. Along the way we found time to stop at a local playground for a short break.The lecture was fascinating, covering everything from special relativity to exoplanets, which was our lecturers specialist area.

After this we headed out for dinner, and were introduced to the prices of everything in Geneva, which shocked us all. However the meal was good and gave us the energy we needed for a late night walk around Geneva Old Town. The city was lovely at night, especially the more traditional parts, and we saw monuments such as the Reformation Wall and Saint Peter’s Cathedral.

The next day our first activity was a tour of the United Nations. The buildings were spectacular, especially the roof of the Human Rights Council, designed by Spanish artist Miguel Barceló, it is designed to look different from every observer’s position, to remind delegates that every person has a different perspective on human rights.

In the afternoon we travelled from Geneva to France, to ascend Mount Salève in a cable car. Once we reached the top of the mountain, we had the compulsory group photo shoot followed by a scenic walk and a chance to take in the stunning views of the city of Geneva and the French-Swiss Alps.

On Saturday morning we had the main event of our trip, and our main purpose for going, which was a tour of CERN. We started by going to the Globe of Science and Innovation, an interactive museum about the topics being researched in CERN. We then had a talk on the research being carried out which led into a tour of the ATLAS detector, which is one of the facilities that collected evidence for the Higgs Boson, officially discovered in July 2012. We learnt about the discoveries they have made, topics currently being researched, and what it’s like to be part of the enormous collaboration at CERN, which has 22 member states and over 2500 employees. This was very inspiring to all of us studying physics, and demonstrated the number of opportunities available in physics.

On our last day we visited the Red Cross Museum. This was a very emotive exhibition, showing the progress the Red Cross have made alongside the stories of the victims of civil war, natural disasters and political unrest. Whilst it was wonderful to see the aid that the Red Cross give people regardless of their personal situation, it was a very poignant reminder of how lucky we are and of the struggles some people in the world have to face.

For the last few hours of our time in Geneva, we were all free to explore the city, find somewhere for lunch and eventually meet up at the youth hostel to start our journey home.

Overall, it was a very worthwhile experience, not just for us as physics students, but also for the chance to explore a new country, become closer friends and spend time with our teachers outside of lessons. We’d like to say a massive thank you to Mr Downing, Mrs Drake and Mrs Hartley who came with us and especially to Mr Billington for organising the trip.

Report written by Louise Cook and Teigan Busby