I must admit, coming into my semester abroad in Zurich, my main goal for my time was not to study; it was to travel, to see as much of Europe as possible.
That is not to say that university life has been uninteresting, or even irrelevant – on the contrary, studying the law of Switzerland and the EU is incredibly fascinating. While many foundational concepts are the same as Australian law, the international perspectives and considerations that underpin much of the policy is fascinating, for example with regard to European economic law. Outside of class, time is spent trying to find a table at the Mensa (cafeteria) at lunch, taking part in any one of the hundreds (yes literally hundreds) of free sports and activities, or simply sitting on the Polyterrasse overlooking the city.
In my first 9 days in Europe, I did travel to 3 cities (Zurich, Paris and Lyon). It was an overload of sights, tastes and experiences. As it turns out, seeing all of Paris in 3 days is no easy task. At one surreal point I found myself sitting in front of the Eiffel Tower, trying to simply soak in my surroundings, and comprehend what I was experiencing.
It was in the weeks following this trip, once I had returned to Zurich, that I began to truly appreciate the experience of ‘exchange’. I spent time simply exploring the city, each day finding new and incredible views; I spent time playing sport or getting to know all of the new people I have met. My goal has changed from simply traveling and seeing Europe. I want to experience Europe.
Whether that be exploring the city in the afternoon sun, night time swims in Lake Zurich, or having dinner with the numerous friends that are made at pub nights, get-to-know events and house parties, I am open to it all. My short time here has been incredible, and I cannot wait to keep experiencing Zurich.