A small guideline for students coming to CERN

Note: This article has been written in a collaboration with a member of CERN HR Talent Acquisition team, Ana Dordevic.

You did it! Congratulations on your CERN position! I am so happy you get to be a part of this amazing, diverse community of incredible people.

Here I answer all the questions I am asked by new CERN students and employees. CERN HR team and their website can also provide you with a lot of useful information and they are always more than happy to help with any inquiries you might have. You will also receive a PDF file containing useful information regarding your arrival to CERN from the member of the HR team.

In this post are things that are not necessarily explained at the CERN website and might help you quite a bit. ☺

Of course, it goes without saying that if you have any questions which are not answered here or at the CERN website you can write me an email (mail@taubytes.com), DM me on Instagram (only social media I check daily) or leave a comment below. I usually answer within a day.

Things you can find in this post are:

  • How do I get to CERN?
  • Any advice about withdrawing/exchanging money?
  • Accommodation – which hostel should I chose?
  • Do I need to attend the lectures?
  • Are there any shops near the hostels?
  • What if I am not feeling well?
  • Are there any CERN souvenir shops?
  • Random advice for students.

How do I get to CERN?

I am arriving by plane

When you pick up the bag do not exit the door before you get your free ticket (because once you are out you can’t get back in)!

So, you take your bags and head to the exit. On the sides of the exit doors there are different machines. One of them gives you a free bus/tram ticket for 80 minutes. Now you have three options: go by bus, CERN shuttle or taxi.

Taxi is just outside of the airport (follow the EXIT sign) and it will cost you between 35 and 50 CHF.

CERN shuttle is for people who have proof that they are staying at CERN hostel or have CERN ID. It’s free of charge and it’s in front of the airport. You just have to follow the exit sign and once outside go straightforward until you pass the parking. There CERN shuttle stops. A timetable of the shuttle you can find here.

If you go by bus, go to the upper floor of the airport, exit and find the bus stop (follow signs for the bus stop).

In case you forgot to take your free ticket, you can pay in CHF and EUR coins but the machine doesn’t give the change back. What you can do is overpay, keep the ticket and go to their office so they give you the exchange back. You cannot pay by card.


Bus 66 – Direction “Thoiry-Centre commercial”, stop ‘’ Saint-Genis-Schuman’’


Bus 23, 28 or 57, get off at “Blandonnet” and then tram 18, direction & stop “CERN”

Timetable for buses and trains is here.

I am arriving by train

When you exit the train station you should find the platform from which tram 18 goes to CERN. The platform is in a narrow street so if you exit in a huge place with many bus and tram stops go to the right, and then the first street on the right is where you want to be. You should be able to easily see a sign for tram 18.

You have to buy the ticket at the tram platform and you can pay in EUR, CHF or by card. This tram goes all the way to CERN (it’s the last stop and you will recognize it by the weird, brown, giant ball on the right side of the direction of the tram :D ).


Tram 18 – Direction & stop “CERN” and then Bus 68 – direction “Thoiry-Centre commercial”, stop ‘’Porte de France’’, walk 5 minutes


Tram 18 – Direction & stop “CERN”

Timetable for buses and trains is here.

Any advice about withdrawing/exchanging money?

When I first arrived at CERN I was advised to change all money at the bank that is at CERN’s Building 500 (in this building you will have your lectures; there is also a restaurant, post office, computers, bank, ATMs). They apparently have the best exchange rates. When I arrived at CERN I brought some cash with me. I had euros because that is the currency in the country I lived and at CERN you can pay everything in euros as well.

Later, when my currency was different than EUR or CHF I withdrew money in my country (no interest fees) and then exchanged it at CERN.

You need money just at the very beginning and then CERN will give you your salary (90 CHF for each day). They will explain the way you will be paid.

Accommodation – which hostel should I chose?

I can not tell you which one is better; it will depend a lot on your personal preferences. What I can do is describe the hostels to make the choice process easier for you.

Meyrin hostel

This hostel is located at CERN ground. It’s very convenient location because it’s ~50m from the Building 500 where you have your lectures (it feels like 50m, but can be a bit more/less. The point is: it is super close). The restaurant is in the same building and often summer students relax and hang out around the restaurant area. This is, as I said, very convenient because if you stay out late you don’t have to walk to the other hostel and worry about the bus. Another advantage: you can sleep longer in the mornings. :D

You can choose if you will share a room or not. Bathrooms are shared between everyone on the same floor. They are separated for women and men but are not too clean (maybe it’s a good idea to bring some slippers which you can use in the shower).

Kitchen is also shared among residents on the whole floor. You have everything you need to cook (pots, dishes, glasses), but fridges and storage places don’t have locks. My friends had problems when other summer students took out their food from the fridge to put their own. It doesn’t mean you will have the same problem, but it’s still a possibility. There is a cleaning lady but the kitchen is usually a mess because she can’t keep up with the mess students make. Students are expected to clean after themselves but they don’t do it so often.

It’s far from the grocery shop.

There is a washing and drying machine for your laundry. You pay for coins at the reception and use them for the machines.

Schumann hostel

The hostel is on the French side and here you can choose to either have your own bathroom or to share one with people from your floor. There are no shared bedrooms.

Since there are a lot fewer people on the floor compared to Meyrin hostel shared bathrooms are a bit cleaner.

The bathroom in the room is clean as much as you keep it clean. The cleaning lady comes every day to tidy up the room (as in Meyrin hostel) and I am not sure how often they clean the bathroom, because I kept mine very clean. At some point (when there were even fewer students) I switched to the room without a bathroom and shared showers were dirty sometimes.

It is same for kitchen - there are not many people so the mess is almost not existing (depends a lot on the people you share the floor with, but if somebody leaves a mess you can always talk to them). Fridges and storage places have locks. Dishes are plastic and they provide you with one or two small pots which you can use for cooking.

A grocery shop is 10 min walking from the hostel. Near the hostel, there are also two pubs that serve food and some other okayish restaurants. There is also take away pizza thingy super close to the hostel (~5min walk).

There is a washing and drying machine for your laundry. You pay for coins at the reception and use them for the machines.

This hostel is in France and there is a free CERN shuttle going to CERN every weekday (timetable is here). There is also bus 68, but this you have to pay for. The direction is “Thoiry-Centre commercial”, stop ‘’Porte de France’’, walk 5 minutes.

Another possibility is to look for a room in Saint Genis Pouilly, the small town where most people working at CERN live (and is the town where Schumann hostel is). You can check availability at CERN market or ask if somebody will rent a room at young@cern facebook group.

Do I need to attend the lectures?

Lectures are not mandatory but are recommended. First two days are very useful, interesting and understandable for everyone. Then lectures start to be more advanced and they are mostly physics related. My friends who do engineering or computer science have not attended 97% of all the lectures (this number is randomly chosen to emphasize that they did not attend lectures :D ). You can take a look at the previous lectures held at CERN here. You can always check the schedule and chose the lectures you will attend.

I, as a physics student, attended all the lectures.

Are there any shops near the hostels?

The shops are cheaper on the French side and there are a couple of them. Here are the names of the ones I used and approximate time you need to reach them:

  1. Saint Genis Migros (10 min by foot from the hostel in France, 10-25min (depending on traffic) by bus from CERN);
  2. Val Thoiry Migros (By bus from CERN ~40-60min, from the hostel in France ~20min; it’s the last stop).

If you have a car you can go to some other supermarkets as well, but these ones were most convenient if you go by bus.

What if I am not feeling well?

There is a small CERN medical service near the main entrance of CERN (entrance B). They can provide you with help. In case they can’t help you, you will be sent to see a doctor in Geneva. In case of the emergency, you can call this number 74444. Your medical insurance is covered by CERN.

Are there any CERN souvenir shops?

Yes! You can find a lot of things in the CERN souvenir shop near the CERN reception (Building 33). In building 500 there is also a small souvenir shop, which has Switzerland oriented souvenirs. It’s next to the bank and ATMs – you won’t miss it.

Random advice for students :)

  • There is an app “MapCERN” which helps you find buildings at CERN. It is super useful since the way buildings are numbered seems without a pattern.
  • Do not stress about how much you know or don’t know. Nobody at CERN expects you to know stuff. This might sound ridiculous to you, but it’s true! You are just a student. And they know that. You are there to learn. If there is knowledge you need to have in order to do your project there are two possible scenarios:

    1. You have the knowledge – great!
    2. You don’t have it – they teach you all you need to know.
  • Working at CERN gives you some awesome discounts. Note: Apple is not listed, but I bought things with 10-20% discount by showing my CERN card.
  • You can rent a bike from CERN for free. You place a 100 CHF deposit, but you will get that back at the end. Note: If you rent a bike, make sure that somebody doesn’t steal it from you. It happened a few times.
  • CERN summer students will organize many events (BBQ, parties, road trips, etc.) and you should try to attend them. You might end up sleep deprived but, I promise you, it’s worth it!
  • In case of any issues with your supervisor, other students or colleagues you can go to the summer student team and talk about it. They will try to help you.
  • Use your time at CERN to understand how things work, it will help you a lot if you want to come back to some other position in the future.

And that is it. I hope I answered your questions and if that is not the case DM me on Instagram, leave a comment below or send an email to mail@taubytes.com (or by clicking the email icon at the bottom of the page ☺).

You will certainly have a lot of fun and will definitely learn a lot at CERN, so I will just finish up with wishing you the best of luck and congratulate you one more time on making this possible. Well done! :)