Kirsty - University of Zurich

B Business Management/Arts
Semester 2, 2018
A once in a lifetime opportunity that enabled me to go to a beautiful country, study some fascinating subjects and meet people who are now some of my closest friends.

Academic experience

I mainly studied business and banking courses in Zürich as I thought they would be most interesting, given Zürich's status as a world banking leader. I enjoyed hearing lectures from professors from all over the world, and the different perspectives they had. In one of my courses, the lecturer did not allow laptops/phones, nor did he allow the lectures to be recorded and posted online. This was challenging for me as I had to really concentrate in every lecture, vigorously writing away as I knew the information would not be repeated. My enrolment process was pretty similar to that at UQ, except there was only one time slot for each lecture or tutorial per course. This made constructing my timetable a bit more challenging. I think in the end I just had to accept that I wouldn't be able to take some courses, and worked around those that I wanted to take the most.

Personal experience

I've undoubtedly gained friends for life from living in Zürich. Although I didn't make too many Swiss friends, I got on really well with the other exchange students from Sweden, England, Japan, Pakistan and many more other places. I travelled quite extensively throughout Europe on many weekends away throughout the semester, which included visiting Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic and much of Scandinavia. I improved my German skills through studying German as a foreign language whilst in Zürich. I definitely think I've become a much more confident, independent and adaptable person.

Accommodation

I lived off-campus, about a 40 minute tram ride away from the UZH Zentrum campus. I enjoyed living with so many diverse people from all over the world - I had 10 housemates and I was the only native English speaker! Whilst at the beginning it felt like quite a large change, I definitely learnt a lot from my housemates and became a much more adaptable person. I would advise future students studying at UZH to make sure they apply for WOKO housing early, and to be open to living with many other different students. Accommodation in Zürich can be extremely expensive, so securely WOKO housing is essential if you want to live with other uni students of around the same age at a reasonable price. UZH provided assistance in the WOKO student accommodation application process, which made it much easier to secure housing. UZH consistently sent out emails with information about the WOKO application, and always alerted me of upcoming deadlines.

Costs

My main monthly costs included:
- Rent (558 CHF)
- Transport - a ZVV Swisspass to cover central Zürich zone 110 (62 CHF) and a Halbtax card for reduced train fares to other destinations in Switzerland (180 CHF for a year)
- Food (around 200 CHF per month)
- Phone - I bought a Swiss sim card from Sunrise and prepaid 3 months of unlimited 4G data only (120 CHF for 3 months or 50 CHF per month)
- Insurance - I had to purchase Swiss health insurance, and chose one of the cheaper insurance providers, Swisscare (65 CHF per month on a standard plan with the highest deductible)
- Travel abroad - the main costly items here would be bus/flight prices (Flixbus has great offers for students that can take you many places for under 50 CHF) and travel insurance (around 15 CHF with Swisscare for short trips)

Challenge

The biggest challenge during my experience was dealing with the death of an extended family member in Australia. I was able to talk with my housemates about how I was feeling and had a great circle of friends around me to take my mind off things. I also knew that UZH had a great support system available to me if I required it.

Professional Development

I have become a much more confident person and am very comfortable talking to new people. Moving to a foreign country where I didn't know anyone was definitely one of the most exciting, yet challenging experiences I've had. I now know that I am able to adapt quickly to such large changes and have become a more resilient person. In our globalising world, I think confidence, adaptability and having an international perspective are key to employability.

Highlight

The highlight of my experience was taking the many trips and weekends away I did with my closest friends. I really loved exploring Europe with people who were all as eager to have new experiences as I was.

Top tips

Don't try and budget your life away! Zürich is an expensive city and you need to be prepared for that, but don't restrict yourself to the point where you can't do the activities you really want to or have any fun.

Another tip would be in regards to grocery shopping - Aldi and Lidl tend to be less expensive than Coop and Migros. Over time, saving a few dollars here and there through your weekly grocery shop can really add up.