Jessica - University of Lausanne

B Science/Arts
Semester 1, 2019
I'd do it all again in a heartbeat!

Academic experience

At UNIL I did the Cours de Vacances and four science courses during the semester. Two of the science courses were set modules and the other two were electives I needed for compulsory credit. Overall I completed 25 ECTS as that's what was required to get the credit I needed back at UQ. I enjoyed the Cours de Vacances. All our different classes went out for 'sorties' which was a lovely way to really make your new classmates your friends, and at one point we had to go to a chocolate shop to complete an assignment so it wasn’t too bad. I found the set science courses were more heavy-duty than those at UQ in terms of how many classes I had. They had classes on four days a week and some days were 10-5 so it was pretty tiring by the time you got to the end of the week. I found that the content wasn’t that challenging but the way the classes were structured around each other made it more difficult to keep on top of than it is at UQ. However two weeks of intense studying during swotvac helped immensely and got me through my final exams pretty well. I definitely recommend trying to revise all your classes at the end of each week to help keep your thoughts in order and make sure you understand everything. The module exams were worth quite a bit (65-75%) and the electives were 100% based off of exams, so they don’t have as much assessment during the semester as UQ does. Overall I enjoyed my classes and UNIL took care of enrolling me in them, which made starting classes a lot less stressful.

Personal experience

I made so, so many friends, some from countries I hadn’t even heard of before I went on exchange! I made some of the closest friends I now have while I was there, and made a particularly close friend group who I travelled with quite often. I made it to about 10 countries, but because of my science courses my weeks at uni were pretty busy compared to others. I had to stay back in Lausanne to study for my exams when most of my friends had finished classes, so my friends got a bit more travel in than I did. I definitely learned a lot more about every-day French, however I didn’t get to use it as much as I thought I would because everyone at the ESN events spoke English, and only about a quarter of my classes ended up being taught in French due to the structure of the 3rd Year Science modules. Living overseas for 6 months gives you a bunch of skills that you won’t realise you need until you get there, but overall I became a lot more confident in doing things independently and being able to stand on my own two feet.


I lived in one of the FMEL houses and I absolutely loved it! I was very lucky to have absolutely wonderful flatmates and they without a doubt made my exchange experience so much better. Whatever FMEL offers you I would definitely accept it. I think they're moving to a system where you get to choose your house (depending on what's available), so I recommend Bourdonette, Cèdres or Atrium - they were pretty popular amongst the exchange students I met. My accommodation was already sorted a month and a half before I left so it was pretty easy.


Rent was 510chf/month and transport was 52chf/month for the Grande Lausanne region. I would definitely recommend buying the demi-tarif and the voie 7 as soon as you arrive in Switzerland. The demi-tarif gives you half price fares on all public transport as a student and the voie 7 gets you free travel in Switzerland between 7pm-5am. I saved so much by travelling to places after 7pm, so I definitely got my money's worth. It’s a lot of money to part with all at the start but it’s worth it. Meat was expensive so most of my meals were just veggies, potatoes and a little bit of meat. Migros and Co-op often have sales on meat after 5pm so I tried to go shopping then, however if you live close to an Aldi I would go there. Most of my money definitely went on travelling and it was so worth it. All in all I think I spent about $15,000 on my exchange and I would recommend around that much.


I think the biggest challenge for me was probably dealing with all the administrative stuff at the start of exchange. There is a bit to do once you arrive and we also got a bill for the processing of our visas a few months into exchange, which none of us expected so be prepared for that. I would recommend just finding some of the other exchange students and doing it all together.

Professional Development

I developed so many skills on exchange! Some of the first ones that come to mind are adapting to new situations, learning how to communicate effectively, time management, and being independent. I met so many people from incredibly diverse backgrounds so I also now feel like I’m more willing to try new things, and am eager to be taught different perspectives/ways of looking at things. All of the skills I developed will help me in future situations, future studies and jobs so I’m grateful for everything I learned there.


Switzerland is without a doubt one of the best places to situate yourself for travelling. I got to go to countries I never really thought about going to before exchange and I’m so happy I did! When I look back on it my happiest memories are going snow sledging down a mountain at night time and looking up to a beautiful view of the sky, making a last-minute trip to England then being back in Lausanne for a day before flying out to Greece, and making some absolutely wonderful friends.

Top tips

- Buy the demi-tarif and voie 7 straight away
- Buy train tickets in advance on the SBB app, they’ll be a lot cheaper
- Join ESN, they do a heap of events for great prices and you will love it
- Say yes to every opportunity you get