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Bern University, Switzerland

My first day upon arrival was, to say the least, very stressful. I had just come off my 26 hour flight, extremely eager for a shower and to unpack my bags. It seemed as though everything was going wrong for me, with the first issue being my card PIN not working, to making two overly expensive purchases for my train ticket and sim card. Little did I know that there were cheaper options. Much cheaper options. But nonetheless, I was finally in Switzerland and ready to explore this beautiful country! The second day I started to realise how lucky I was to be here, after exploring the Old City of Bern. Myself, Kashif and Fiona (All students from UTS) banded up and visited the Bear park, the Aare river as well as the Botanical Gardens. Each corner unravelled a new reason for our jaws to drop in awe, with the streets of Bern being filled with beautiful architecture and amazing fountains and sculptures. After seeing how picturesque the Aare river looked, we all agreed that we had to swim there while the weather was still nice, so the next day we headed down to a cozy spot and had a dip… It was freezing! But it was such an amazing experience floating downstream in the middle of Bern, Switzerland! A lot of locals were swimming too which added to the exciting thought that we too, will be Bern citizens for 5 months! 

Monday saw the start of our introduction week where we were able to explore the main campus of Bern University. It has a really beautiful grass patch out the front of the main building with an awesome view of the city and Bernese Alps. We had the chance to meet a lot of the other exchange students, which we instantly hit it off with! They are really lovely people who are keen to have a lot of fun! After the first information session a few of us went down to the river to swim yet again… we couldn’t get enough of it! On Tuesday we had a student union information session which was a lot of fun! They had a big food platter out for everyone and we all mingled and got to know each other over a few laughs. From there we headed to a really nice bar with a huge outdoor setting where we all continued our laughs over a few drinks. 

On Wednesday we had a city tour where were able to learn some history about the magnificent city of Bern! We were able to see where Albert Einstein lived for nearly 3 years, which is now a museum with a cafe underneath it. We were also able to see the display on the Zytglogge clock tower go off at 3pm which was established in 1191! If only walls could talk. The part of the day that amazed me the most was the Bern Minster cathedral, which is the tallest cathedral in Switzerland. It’s gothic styled architecture gave it an eerie vibe which was very intriguing, topped with a mural which detailed heaven and hell surrounded by Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the 12 Apostles. It was made to teach the locals what would happen if they sinned, as back when it was first made, people could not read, therefore the mural made for an easy way to understand the consequences of sinning. After the tour, Kashif and I went swimming once again! That night a few of us met  up and shared some laughs over a few drinks where we each explained what we were studying, why we chose Bern for our exchange and a random fact about ourselves. 

On Thursday a few of us found another really cool spot to swim with a large grass area that you can lie down on and tan in the sun. We were all so intrigued by each others stories about where we were from and what we were studying. I am lucky to have such an amazing group of people for exchange! 

I am writing this, reminiscing on my first week in Switzerland while I look forward to the rest of my stay! University has not yet started for me, so I am not able to comment on that, but I am really excited to start!

Sven Carlsen
Bachelor of Environmental Science
Bern University
Switzerland

For more information about the UTS Global Exchange program please visit: www.global-exchange.uts.edu.au

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