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Indian student blog Completing my first semester

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(Shubhangi Makkar)

Shubhangi shares tips for newbies entering the Swiss university system. 

My first semester at a Swiss university has passed in the blink of an eye. I was so busy trying to adjust to a new city, that I barely noticed. Nonetheless, I have learned a lot of in my first semester.

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

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Orientation day 

The orientation day at a Swiss university is very important and I highly recommend that you go. It’s a chance to meet new people and interact with other students. There are also introductory speeches and workshops which introduce you to the Swiss education system. For example, I learned a lot about oral examinations - the primary form of assessment conducted at ETH Zurich for most of the core courses. 

Academics

Swiss universities have a high reputation globally for imparting quality education. I agree based on my experience here. The possibilities for research are endless. You have the support of all the professors and even funding if needed. In general, the lectures are highly interactive, and taught by the leaders of industry. 

In my programme, and likely others, you are given the freedom to choose subjects you wish to study and fulfill a minimum number of credits. Hence, you can even pick subjects outside of your primary course of study. For example, I can study history while also pursuing my core physics courses. Nonetheless, the courses are difficult and require extensive studying over the course of the semester. 

Student Life

After you’re getting in the flow of things, it would be a nice idea to join a sports club to meet more people. Furthermore, it’s essential to balance your studies with hobbies and leisure activities. To do so, you can check out the sports facilities offered at your campus, as well outside. Most likely your institution will offer some facilities free of cost. 

Making friends may not be easy at the start but you should remain open-minded and interact with people around you. Since you will be meeting students from diverse cultures, it takes time to establish a common bond. Once you do, it develops into an exchange of cultures. I’ve built great friendships and recommend that you don’t shy away from interacting with anyone.

Local lingo

Although you can survive with little German (or French/Italian depending where you live) it’s nice to learn a few words and connect sentences together. Most official correspondence, application forms for opening a bank account, etc. will all be in the local language. At the start of the semester, you can register for a language course depending on your level of German. From beginners to advanced learners there is a spot for everyone, but spaces get filled quickly! Some Swiss cantons, like Zurich, offer free language courses depending on your level. You can enroll for these courses by asking in your Kreisburo (District Office). Apart from language courses, do interact with the welcoming people of Switzerland and build your confidence.

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