I’m currently doing make exchange studies in the land of chocolate, watches and banks, you guessed right, I’m talking about Switzerland. I chose Switzerland because I always found the country to be a place where I could live. Truth to be told I’ve never actually been here before but that was the image I had in my head. And so far it seems I was right. This seems to be perfect blend of new and familiar.
School system is pretty similar to Finnish one we know. There are more traditional Universities and the Universities of Applied Science. There also seems to be differences between individual school were they either one. ZHAW where I’m currently studying is located in Winterthur, about 20 minutes from Zürich via train. Even though school is labeled as a University of Applied Sciences the structure of courses and the whole semester reminds me more about traditional University.
I as a exchange students am able to choose any courses of my liking but local students seem to be split in three categories: Business Administration, Banking and Finance and Accounting students. As far as I’m aware they are split in classes and study current courses of their field together. So I’m less restricted than local students because I’m not bound to the same class structure.
There are mainly two types of courses: More broader ones that have three hours of lectures per week and give you six credits once you complete them, and minor ones with 90 minutes and three credits. On the contrary to my Finnish study experience there is a lot independent work outside of school. I remember doing 8-10 hour days at the library in May because there was so many school projects going on at the same time. Surprisingly though I actually started feel motivated about the challenge and felt real accomplishment when I got my tasks done.
Outside of school we’ve been traveling quite a lot. Switzerland is in middle of Europe so it’s easy to catch a plain or train and visit France for example. Still the best trips have been inside the Swiss borders. The Alps and diversity between different regions have kept me busy and out of money whole semester.
When I’m staying in Winterthur my daily routine is pretty much the same as in Finland. Student camp gives its on flavor on top of that because there’s always someone to talk to and I’ve made more friends in couple of months here than in two years in Tampere.
The city itself is fairly compact. Public transportation works and we have everything we need. If we feel like needing even more options, we can always hop on a train and go to Zürich. Swiss prices cut a lot of options out of the picture but during my stay I’ve learned to be smarter with my choices and aware what I can afford and not.
The Swiss have reputation as very work oriented and distant people. As a Finn I feel like home in here. People act pretty much the same way, the weather just is warmer and views and salaries are better. Some other students have had problems here because they feel treated coldly in the stores for example but this is similar service as in Finland so it doesn’t bother me. I feel like people respect my space but open up more when we are in right situation to talk. Work and school culture is pretty similar too although I feel like everything is a little bit more competitive and serious and that’s exactly what I need.