After 3 flights with 1-hour stopovers, I arrived in Zurich on 1st August for National Day. My university buddy drove me from the airport to my friend’s house, and we headed for a seebad, a lakeside resort in the Limmat, where we spent a warm sunny day – a ‘heatwave’ by Zurich weather standards. Afterwards we visited the city centre to check the main attractions, and at night, we saw fireworks lighted to celebrate Swiss National Day. On the second day, I settled in student housing in Winterthur, Switzerland. This was just the start!
Switzerland is right in the middle of Europe. With its efficient SBB train network, it is possible to arrive at all the main Swiss cities within 2-3 hours, reach Germany in 1 hour, travel to France and Austria easily, and reach countless famous European cities within a 1-hour airplane trip. The strategic location allowed me to travel all around Switzerland, including Konstanz, St Gallen, Romanshorn, and also through Europe, visiting the Greek Islands for 10 days before university started, which was an unforgettable experience. Switzerland’s central location also makes it convenient to meet with other exchange students staying in Europe.
Winterthur is the 6th most populated city in Switzerland, situated in the canton of Zurich, and it is a 15-minute train ride away from the city of Zurich. Winterthur is home to UBS, and has an industrial past, so today there are many construction development works occurring alongside historic buildings. It is a beautiful town that is easy to navigate, and the locals cycle their way through it effortlessly.
I’m studying at the School of Management and Law in Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), which is industry-focused similarly to UTS. It has a smaller cohort, and the specialisations are finance, insurance and business management, due to its proximity to the Swiss financial capital of Zurich.
Switzerland is spotless clean, smaller and cozy, very safe, and services here are incredibly efficient. This makes it quite easy to settle down.
Swiss German is different from High German which is spoken in Germany. For instance, hello and goodbye in the Swiss German dialect are different words. Switzerland has 4 national languages in total, so packaging is sometimes also written in French and Italian. It is possible to do the groceries in German, buy train tickets in Italian, ask questions in the post in Spanish, and arrange insurance in English, without even crossing to the Swiss French-speaking region.
Switzerland is a paradise for nature lovers, with its luscious mountains and crystal lakes. I took a day trip to visit Rheinfall, the largest waterfall in Europe, which is less than an hour away from Winterthur.
The student housing complex StudentenWohnen is brand new, 2.5 years old, and resembles an IKEA showroom.
University Orientation Week is due to start next week, most exchange students are yet to arrive, as I moved to Zurich one month before class starts to travel in the summer months and settle down. I am looking forward to meeting other students at the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) events soon to take place!