Tom is currently studying abroad at the University of Geneva with his French and Economics degree at Reading. Read on to find out how he’s settling in to his new life in Switzerland for the next academic year.
The end of summer came about rapidly, and before I knew it I was boarding my one-way flight to Switzerland. Having only secured accommodation a couple days prior to my departure (despite the months of frantic searching coupled with an unsuccessful trip to find somewhere) it was safe to say that I was relieved in the comfort of knowing that I had a bed to sleep in. I felt a perfect balance of anxiety and excitement – the thrill of diving into the unknown paralleled with the insecurity of a completely different lifestyle made me feel like I was truly about to embark on a journey that would define who I am as an individual.
I attended the welcome session – an event that was supposed to be an introduction to the university, but it felt more like a social day whereby the exchange students could unite. On this day I was fortunate enough to meet a wide range of people from all across Europe. I was soon reassured that I would not find myself lonely over the course of the upcoming year. A committee known as “ESN Genève” (Erasmus Social Network) invited us to sign up to their group so that we may participate in their events, and I couldn’t be more satisfied. Along with regular day trips, every Wednesday we meet for a pub night which is a great opportunity to socialise and catch-up with those not on our course, as well as to show off the true British spirit of getting absolutely hammered.
Getting myself established within the University was somewhat of a bureaucratic nightmare and I was soon convinced that administration staff are very reluctant help. With an array of documents that needed signing by different individuals, along with complex office hours that each member of staff pertained it took a little over 2 weeks of pestering before I could get everything organised. My advice to future students in my position would be to sign up to the ‘buddy’ programme offered by ESN and to ask your buddy (a non-exchange student) for advice.
Outside of lectures my life consists of similar activities that I would do back in the UK, before temperatures drop too low we’ve been profiting in spending afternoons outdoors walking around the lake, grabbing coffee in Geneva’s niche cafés, and finding bargains at the numerous flea markets that appear across the city. With the cost of living being so expensive I often cycle to France in order to do my grocery shopping as it’s far cheaper, however this often leads me to overspend as the attractive prices cause me to disregard my budget.
Adjusting to life here has been relatively easy as most people are friendly and outgoing, seeming to have a similar ‘can-do’ attitude to the cliché American one. The city streets are clean and I generally feel very safe. This is not to say that I don’t miss British culture and at the moment I am still finding myself with thoughts along the lines of: “that’s not what we do in the UK”. But in conclusion, I am having a great time and I’m certain that in the upcoming months my love for this city will grow even more!