Marcelle - University of Lausanne

B International Studies
Semester 1, 2019
Savoir se quitter pour mieux se retrouver - to know how to leave oneself to better find oneself

Academic experience

I wanted to finish my French major whilst on exchange and so took a variety of courses from an A1 to B2 level in the French as foreign language faculty - this was very rewarding to my overall learning experience as the A level classes improved my speaking skills whilst the B level classes improved my writing/ listening comprehension. It was a huge leap between the A and B level - I found myself learning basic pronunciation in one class to writing argumentative texts in French in another. However, I am glad I took the A level classes despite being a B1-B2 learner as they gave me a refresher in spoken French as well as 'dared' me to speak in public and in everyday transactions!
Don't stress too much in the first couple of weeks. UNIL is very chill, especially about enrollment - you have 2-3 weeks where you can sit in to almost any class to 'test' it before enrolling. The classes also vary each semester (particularly in the French faculty so don't set your heart on anything - there are plenty of options!

Personal experience

I chose Switzerland mainly to experience life there as well as improve my fluidity in French. I saw significant progress over the course of my 5 month exchange. At first it was quite frustrating having to deal with the student housing, the government/ council, transport services and other official services in French however I had to learn to be patient and confident with my French and push pass the fear of making mistakes. I never fully felt like I was improving however every now and then I would surprise myself in only-french interactions - so satisfying! In saying that, Lausanne is definitely bilingual and everyone (mostly younger generation) will want to practice their English with you once they find out you're Australian!


I lived in a shared apartment with 4 roommates through FMEL. I preferred this option over a studio (my friend was in one) as it was significantly cheaper and the company meant a lot, especially in a new city! My room was huge as well so I had my privacy when I needed AND shared apartments usually have communal kitchen/ cleaning equipment which makes moving in that much easier. I stayed at Bourdonnette, which was 1 stop away from UNIL (5-10 min walk) and 5 stops away from Lausanne-Flon. It was also on the bus line to Grancy which connected to Lausanned-Gare.


Rent is relatively affordable if you're in a shared apartment - I paid 510.- per month which included all bills! Food is expensive for the average Australian. Shop smartly at Aldi, Lidl and Denner - try to avoid Migros and Coop unless you need something specific/ more upmarket. Eating out is honestly a treat because of the expense - buy food/wine for picnics and enjoy them anywhere in Lausanne (it's picturesque everywhere). A budget of 250-300.- per week would be living comfortably.

For transport, BE SMART. Buy a half fare pass for the year to secure around 50% any transport ticket. Also link this card as well as your credit/ debit card to the SBB mobile app for convenience - you can also purchase supersaver tickets on the app in advance (SO MUCH CHEAPER).


My biggest challenge was settling in properly with all the governmental/ council/ housing/ transport requirements. I was quite frustrated as I struggled to speak a good level of French to understand the specifics of everything. However, I learnt to just be patient with myself and not be afraid of asking for help - no matter how dumb the question. UNIL and the exchange admin team were also a huge help! Also would suggest signing up for the Buddy system where a local student can greet you at the airport as well as help you with all these specifics (I didn't but would have found it VERY helpful).

Professional Development

Patience - I have become so much more patient with myself as well as with others, particularly second language learners. However, I would say that this exchange boosted my confidence the most. I had to learn to take risks and put myself out there more and this has definitely transferred well to both my personal and professional skills.


The Titanique Lemanique party on Lac Lemanique hosted by ESN - four hours of drinks/ food/ entertainment on the lake's biggest boat!

Top tips

- Make a good bunch of friends to do things with
- Shop smart (Aldi, Lidl and Denner)
- Buy half-fare card and Lausanne mobilis pass
- Download SBB mobile app and look in advance for supersaver tickets (especially long distance travel in Switzerland)
- Don't stress about UNIL classes/ enrollment upon arrival
- Join ESN (Exchange society)
- Just ask your roommates/ exchange friends for help when needed - internet searches will get you nothing
- Make the most of Lausanne, WALK places - especially UNIL to Ouchy along the lake
- Go to Le Lacustre in Ouchy for best pizzas ever
- Go to Loom gelateria in Grancy
- Link student card to PubliBike for free rides (normal and e-bikes)