Tag Archives: Switzerland

Rally English ambassador in Switzerland

When I got chosen to go exchange to Lucerne University of Applied Sciences for the spring semester 2018, I got super scared at first, and actually was pretty 50/50 to cancel the whole thing. Biggest doubts I had, was about my capabilities on studying in English, which you might be able to believe if you keep reading this blog…Sorry but not sorry! However, after pushing all the negativity aside for awhile, February arrived and it was time for a departure. I packed my snowboard with me and hopped on white&blue-wings at Helsinki-Vantaa airport and hoped to come back one day mentally and physically more or less healthy. Possible credits would be just a big plus!

I took the train to Lucerne from the Zurich airport and the journey took approximately 45 minutes. Just to mention, Swiss railway network is amazing. The network is super comprehensive and Swiss people has built tracks even on the mountains and these trains are always on time, unlike in some other countries! Have to admit, that the arrival in Lucerne was some sort of an shock. The city had just started an four day festival and 90% of the people were wearing an festival costume in a very crowded station. I had no idea of the festival before my arrival, and the sight really wasn’t corresponding on my thoughts I had about Swiss people. At this point I decided to forget everything I thought I knew about Switzerland and all the expectations I had on my exchange semester.

After surviving first two weeks in Switzerland, and when I started to be settled down in Lucerne, and speaking only in English wasn’t that big deal anymore, I really enjoyed every second during my stay. The best part of Switzerland, in my point of view, was of course the Alps. The first day on Swiss slopes felt unreal.

 

 

 

Academic level is relatively high in Switzerland, however, if I was able to pull it trough by compensating bad English with hard work, I’d say anyone can. Switzerland is very expensive country, but in the end, places I saw and things I did, justifies the fact that I successfully burned my student loan! Accommodation was arranged very well by the host University, and I don’t have a bad thing to say about my apartment. I was sharing the apartment with 4 other students. We were sharing the kitchen and the shower, but we had own rooms. The best part of the accommodation was, that it was in a building which consisted of 50 rooms in total, and all the rooms are reserved exclusively for exchange students. 50 exchange students in one building = great parties every week and new friends from all over the world for life.

 

I really suggest everyone who’s thinking about going exchange to give Lucerne at least a thought, since I can’t imagine better exchange semester than I had!

Grüezi!

Dear reader,

Greetings from maybe the most beautiful place in Europe (at least in Switzerland), Lucerne!

I have been here almost two semesters now and I have really enjoyed my time. I study music and luckily the classical music department is located on top of the hill where you can see the whole city, mountains and the lake – breathtaking view! This kind of environment has been really inspiring and motivating for me. I must say that sometimes when carrying my two tubas on top of the hill I wasn’t so happy, but on top with the incredible view you don’t care anymore the weight of the tuba, you just enjoy the atmosphere.

The view from classical music school
Main building of the classical music school
Building for wind players

The jazz department instead is located to old town. Also, not bad at all! Even the old town is full of tourists, especially summer time, I still enjoy walking to jazz school through the old bridges and small streets in the middle of old, beautiful buildings.

The way to jazz school, Luzern Kappelbrücke
The way to jazz school

I think the school system here is similar than in Finland but here is more common to study occupation with co-operation of companies (little bit like “oppisopimus” in Finland). Universities are not free, there is always student fees but they are tolerable, not too high. As music student, I feel that I have here lots of different opportunities to study with very good teachers. School offers not only the “basic education” but also lots of projects, workshops and master classes with specialists all over the world. For foreign student, Switzerland is not maybe the easier country to be because living is very expensive, even more expensive than in Finland. But when you get a little part time job, you’ll be better – salaries are also very good comparing to other countries.

In the spare time, here is so many things to do that I felt one year was not enough time to see all. Not only the city itself, but also towns near and of course the surrounding mountains, offer so much things to see and experience. The cultural view is also amazing – Lucerne is not very big city but it is full of different happenings! You can always find something for your spare time: different concerts, theater, opera, art, performances, festivals and so many other things… And it has been very nice to notice that almost every time when I was in concert as musician or in audience, it has been full of people. So in my opinion, people really appreciate culture here and they are also willing to pay to see different things.

Main concert hall full of people
Contemporary music centre, Neubad (old swimming hall)
Music festival in Stans (also full of people)

One special happening I have to mention: The Lucerne Carnival. Every year in February or March there is carnival which makes the whole city going crazy. The city center is full of music, parades, people wearing masks and/or special carnival clothes, dancing, celebrating and having fun for 6 days. In Finland we have summer festivals, but carnival was something really special that I haven’t experience before. I was part of one small (14 people) band and we played several gigs in- and outside of restaurants with special clothes and make-up. What a nice way to get into the local culture!

Carnival time – music, costumes and fun
Closer look to some of the handmade costumes
Our carnival group: Chrööschpöntler
Chrööschpöntler in action!

When you are in Lucerne, you can’t avoid Mount Pilatus. I visited two times there (at winter and summer) and both times, for Finnish who never visited mountain before, it was incredible! I think you never get use to the view from the mountain!

Mount Pilatus from the main street
Lake Lucerne from Mount Pilatus
The winter view from Mount Pilatus

I warmly recommend Lucerne to everyone who wants to study in inspiring and beautiful environment.

Liebe grüsse aus der Schweiz,
Annika

This place feels like home

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.

 

Yodeling in Switzerland

Ho! Ho! Ho!

The yuletide is finally upon us and for me that means a short vacation in Finland to see my girlfriend, family and friends. I am currently in my room and waiting to catch the proper train from Lucerne to Zürich Airport for my evening flight to Finland. After the vacation, or as my local fellow students referred as “study holiday”, I will come back to Switzerland to do the final exams for several courses in January.

img_3078
Nikolas and Pascal offering me and Oskari a Swiss evening including the Swiss delicacy raclette

Switzerland has been a splendid place to study hard and enjoy life! Weeks have passed by faster than ever in life. Working days I’ve spent studying and writing many several papers, but most of the weekends I’ve just laid back and enjoyed what Switzerland has had to offer me: I have travelled in all of the neighbouring countries (excluding Italy) and exploited the world’s second biggest railway network here in Switzerland to see and experience different cities and mountains.

img_2558
I hiked to the summit of Mt. Rigi with a couple of local buddies. Nothing beats the fresh mountain water afterwards!

Studying is taken here very seriously. The grade scale is from 0 to 6, where one would imagine zero to be a fail and six an excellent. Well, actually the grade 3 is already a fail. You need to get a 4 to pass the course (3,5 can be rounded up). In most of the cases, if you fail a course you are very welcomed to come and redo the exam next year. By keeping this in the back of your mind, it pushes you to do more than better. I have learnt a lot of academic publications, how to reference correctly according to APA and rehearsed for multiple different presentations. But hey, that’s why I am here: I wanted to have quality education also from my exchange studies.

dsc_0843-kopio
The beautiful and breathtaking view from Mt. Titlis

I have met a lot of different people from so many countries (at least 25 different nationalities!). Local people are hard-working, but also pulling my leg on an everyday basis, haha. Fantastic people I must say.

As a watch maniac I've ran out of drool during my study exchange
As a watch maniac I’ve ran out of drool during my study exchange

I’ve had many visitors from Finland, including my girlfriend Milla, my parents and a couple of friends. With my parents we also drove to Paris to see Milla! What a fantastic weekend we had!

img_3253
Milla visited me and I took her to eat fondue and drink glühwein. We had a splendid evening!

Now it’s time to shut my laptop and focus on my upcoming leisure time in Finland.

See you all soon!

Hoi zäme! HI! (to more than one person)

Greetings from Switzerland!

My exchange semester in Luzern, in the northern part of Switzerland, has been a great experience. I have studied here International Management & Economics at Lucerne School of Business. The workload at school has been much bigger than what we have in Finland. The high amount of returnable assignments together with theoretical contents of courses have kept me busy during my exchange. Some tasks even regarded something I had never heard about, like our project “Decentralized Autonomous Organisations on a Blockchain: Is this the end of trade?“ However, I had enough spare time to travel and see places as well.

 

Here in the left picture below you can see me on top of the Pilatus mountain. My parents came to visit me in November and we went together up to the mountain (2128 m) with world’s steepest cogwheel train. In the right picture below you can see the red cogwheel train.

pilatus-mountainpilatus-mountain-2

 

While walking around in the center of Luzern, these sights in the pictures below where usually along the route.  The picture on the left is from the top of the wall of Luzern and in the other picture you can see the most famous sight of Luzern: Kapellbrücke, which is the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe (built in 1333).

luzernluzern-2

 

During our introductory weeks, which our school arranged for us exchange students, we experienced some amazing views. During our bus trip to the locations we were going to visit we, for example, admired these two sceneries: the left one is from the bus trip to Aareschlucht canyon and the canyon is partly in the picture on the right.

amazing-viewsaareschlucht

 

As you can see from the left picture below, I was watching ice hockey in Zug, which is quite close to Luzern. The game was a part of the Swiss National League and in the home team, EV Zug, played actually Finnish player Jarkko Immonen.

During my exchange I had the possibility to visit even six countries and Italy was one of them. In the picture on the right you can see one of the most famous football stadiums, San Siro, which I visited when I travelled to Milano.

ice-hockeysan-siro

 

I have had a memorable time here but anyway, travelling soon back to Finland is something I am looking forward to.

Cheers

Oskari

Almost at the top, of Alps

kuva2
Lenzerheide-Alps

Greetings from Switzerland! The time has gone here very quickly and I have been here for two months. I’m living in Winterthur and studying at ZHAW School of Engineering.

kuva1
Winterthur-Hometown

In our University there is only six exchange student in this semester but here is also some other exchange students studying Business or Management & Law from USA, France, Slovenia, Korea, China etc.. I really enjoyed being here, I have met lot of new peoples around the world and saw very spectacular views.

kuva6
Schaffhausen-Rheinfalls

I have travelled only in Switzerland in St.Gallen, Bern and Zürich. Later this exchange we are going to Italy, France, Austria and Germany. I live with four local people and I like it because I can see Swiss culture very close. They are very similar than Finns so it’s not that big culture shock for me. I hope that the last two months will go more slowly 😉

kuva4
Zürich-Zürich Lake
kuva5
Zürich

 

Grüezi aus der Schweiz!

 

I’m doing my exchange semester in Lucerne, Switzerland. The time that I have spent here, has been amazing and better than I could have ever imagined. The worst part is ahead when the end is coming and I have to say goodbyes to Switzerland and all the new people that I have had the honor to get to know. Now I will try to show you what I have experienced during these past months.

First of all, the city I’ve been living for a while now, is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.

2015-09-06 16.18.082015-09-12 16.06.20

I have had the honor to get to know a lot of amazing people or as we call it an Exchange Family.

IMG-20151111-WA0071 IMG-20151204-WA0005

I have had really unforgettable moments.

20150909_194244   2015-10-03 16.28.29

And last but not least, I have visited unbelievable places.

 

 

Snapchat-655633889591481991    IMG_20151127_090240 2015-11-11 20.55.58  2015-10-11 12.41.09

Last but not least, a little bit about studying in Switzerland. I study in Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts.  The level of the school is pretty high and sometimes studying might feel pretty exhausting. The positive thing for me was that we have been doing lots of group works and it has also been lots of fun in international groups. The problem was the lack of time because during an exchange semester there is lot of things going on but you also need to use a lot of time for studying.

Even though it has been hard to keep up sometimes, I can only recommend this university. All the professors are good and very helpful and all the local people are very friendly. There is also lots of exchange students every year so they are very welcoming. The international coordinator of this school is amazing and she has been very helpful and supportive with studies and all the Swiss bureaucracy.

Thank you for reading!

Nelli

 

Experiencing Switzerland

Hello reader!

I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing Lucerne, Switzerland over the past few months. It has been an experience I certainly won’t forget, as I’ve never traveled alone before this exchange. Lucerne in itself is actually quite small, but makes up for it with quite magnificent scenery and beautiful landscape. For example, here is a picture from the day I went up to nearby Mount Pilatus with my parents:

DSC_0069

For comparison, here is a slightly fuzzy picture of what the mountain looks like from the lake of the city:

 

DSC_0080

My studies here have consisted of e.g. Human Resources Management, Macroeconomics, Corporate Communication, maths and the German language of course. All the courses I took tie in well to my current study plan in Finland, which is really great since I did not get all the courses I originally hoped to have. Group assignments and small individual tasks are very common as I imagined, but what is different compared to Finland is the lack of group works in class. This depends on the teacher of course, but generally speaking the lectures were more lecturing oriented, not group works or other engaging teaching methods. That did not bother me at all, as that style suits me better personally.

During my time here I’ve also pondered about the fact that why is Switzerland’s so far above others in terms of average income level. My best guess right now is the fact that the education is on a very high level, and coming from Finland I was really surprised by the amount of knowledge and input required from the students. All that is still quite manageable, and I’ve enjoyed my stay a lot. Here is a result of that high income level, Koenigsegg Agera R. Supercars everywhere, a nice change compared to Finland in my opinion.

DSC_0092

Of course Switzerland does come with its very high price level as I said, everything being about double the price compared to Finland. Not exactly the best option for a student, but nevertheless an experience I would definitely re-experience. We had first snow at the end of November, although the snow disappeared immediately from the city, it left a nice view from my apartments shared balcony:

 

DSC_0107

Greetings from Switzerland,

Henri

grüezi from Winterthur!

Hi!

I’m doing well in Winterthur! My school is great and I have got a lot of new friends. In my school there is only few exchange students, so teachers are very interested about us.

Switzerland is great place to be, it’s a paradise for snowboarder like me. In the morning I can take a train to the Alps, (to Davos for example)  and snowboard all day, and come back for night. Everything is so expensive here, so I buy only what I need. Beer is not too expensive, almost same what it is in Finalnd.

Regards,

Esapekka

WP_20141011_011

On the Lake Geneva shoreline

Bonjour, Geneva here!

I’ve been doing my practical training here since the end of March in a recruitment agency, so I have been here for a few months by now. To sum everything up quickly, Geneva seems so much more than a city the size of Tampere (by population)!

Lake Geneva and the Geneva landmark Jet d'Eau in downtown Geneva
Lake Geneva and the Geneva landmark Jet d’Eau in downtown Geneva

The summer here has been extremely beautiful (nothing like Finland, eh?), but of course there’s more to that than the eye can see. Working in a office, where the temperature is +40 degrees celsius, with no air conditioning is not the most pleasant experience. Furthermore, try doing that for three weeks straight.

I’ve been working long hours at the office, but the more I think of it, the more I realize, that most Swiss people do that their entire lives. The Finnish system with regular 9-to-5 days does not prevail here, and it is almost expected from you to work at least nine hours a day, often ten, eleven, or twelve. Then again, you do learn much more about what you are doing.

The work itself has been interesting, yet extremely challenging. I’m still trying to get used to a completely different pace of work and several recruitment processes I was completely new to, but I feel, that I’m getting more and more into the job day by day. Most of my days go by interviewing candidates on the phone and searching for potential ones online.

Thankfully I also have some spare time, and the other weekend me and my girlfriend visited a beautiful mountain range not far from Geneva. In fact, only an hour and a half drive away.

Mont Blanc and the Alps in France.
Mont Blanc and the Alps in France.

The trip was wonderful, and the hike took approximately five hours circling around the mountainside. We also went to Lac Blanc, a beautiful mountain lake at approximately at 2400 meters.

Life here can be complicated at times (people on the French side just do not speak English!!!) due to my non-existent French skills and the lack of interest in serving me from the customer service’s side, but overall the pros overcome the cons. Besides, I have never lived so close to an airport, so it is good fun to watch planes from around the world take off and land. 🙂

The workload does not seem to decrease, nor does the temperature seem to go down much, but life in Geneva is all ways good!