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Indian student blog The pros and cons of Swiss city life for a student

Montmollin station

Few people used the local train station where Gaurav lived.


The Swiss rail system is praised the world over for its punctuality, frequency and cleanliness. But the Swiss Federal Railways decided to close the station used by Gaurav, forcing the student to move to the city.

Even though I enjoyed staying with a family, I could not continue to live with them because of the railways’ decision.

Due to too few passengers using the station where I caught the train for Neuchâtel city I had to take the bus, but the problem with the bus was its timing. With the train, I was able to come back late in the evening as the last train was around midnight. But the last bus was at 18:37 so I had to come back in the early evening. That was fine during the school year but in summer – since I wanted to work part-time -  it was not very suitable because most of the jobs are in Neuchâtel or nearby towns and you are often required to work up to 19:00.

Hence, after spending a very nice 10 months with a family, I had to move to Neuchâtel. It was an emotional moment for me as I had to move away from the family and house with which I had become attached.

That was just the beginning of a new set of problems since I had to look for a new place to live. As a foreigner, it is very hard to find a studio because most of the real estate companies do not have faith in us, especially foreign students. Perhaps they think students might not be able to pay the rent on time.

Therefore, I approached the student home service, Alfen, which didn’t have any availability. But after spending a few nights at a friend’s place, I learned that one of my classmates had moved out of his room in an Alfen residence in order to live with his girlfriend. I contacted him and was able to take over his place for the summer. 

Exterior of student accommodation

A new urban home


This new, temporary, home in “Citéexternal link des étudiants” (a type of university hostel) was, in my opinion, the best place for a student to live in Neuchâtel - cheap in comparison to other accommodations provided by Alfen and only a five-minute walk from the university’s buildings. It was a new experience. I met people from different countries, and on my floor there were many native French speakers meaning I could still practice my Swiss language skills. As the shopping center is close to Citéexternal link I no longer had to carry my weekly groceries for 15 minutes, which was the case when I was living in Montmollin.

But I still needed a solution for the rest of my studies since my classmate was supposed to return after the summer break. Fortunately, I learned that an acquaintance on the same floor was departing so I spoke with Alfen and they accepted my application for her room. I now have a permanent place to live while I’m at the university. 

Selfie by Gaurav in his room

The good thing about living in Neuchâtel city is that I can take the train to other parts of Switzerland easily as the station is just 10 minutes from my residence. And since the city is on the lakeshore, I can enjoy the lake which was difficult from Montmollin. That said, I certainly miss life in the Swiss countryside. It was peaceful and close to nature. It’s much noisier at the student hostel -  floor mates organise parties almost every weekend, so it can be difficult if you want to study in your room.

For more blog posts and information on studying in Switzerland visit our dedicated page Education Swiss Madeexternal link.

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