My semester abroad in Geneva, Switzerland!

Pilar studies within Queen Mary’s School of Languages, Linguistics and Film and studied abroad at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, as a Turing Scheme grant recipient.

Choosing to study in Geneva was, for me, a huge shot in the dark… I had never been before, knew little about its culture and customs and just about knew where it was on a map but, it is safe to say I am very glad I chose to live and study in such a beautiful and unique city!

I will never forget arriving to Geneva Airport, getting in a taxi to my residence and arriving to Geneva’s beautiful old town where I have been fortunate enough to live! It all started to feel very real and I could not wait to discover Switzerland over the next 5 months. I spent my first week grounding myself, exploring the city and socialising with my new housemates. I visited Geneva’s main attractions such as the Jet d’Eau, the United Nations and of course, the Patek Philippe Museum. You are surrounded by beautiful mountains, incredible architecture and I was stunned by how peaceful, friendly and quiet the city was… the polar opposite of living in London!

Soon enough I started studying at the University of Geneva. Studying here was a very different experience to London and I hate to say it, certainly more rigorous…However, the lecturers are incredibly friendly and helpful, the student culture is warm and welcoming, and I had Fridays off so I enjoyed a three day weekend (much needed travelling time).

The Erasmus Student Network (ESN) was very strong and organised on average 2/3 activities a week for exchange students to meet each other and socialise. Geneva soon began to feel like home and settling in was an easy and enjoyable experience.

I loved learning French in Geneva as it is such an international city. Nobody bats an eyelid when you cannot speak perfectly and, in fact, they will help you instead of jumping in and speaking to you in English. Now onto the fun part…travelling! If you like hiking and beautiful scenery, Geneva is definitely the place for you! I have never seen such incredible views before coming here and felt incredibly fortunate to have beautiful places like Mont Salève on my doorstep. Geneva is incredibly central and is surrounded by beautiful places that are easy to visit: Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald, Annecy, Interlaken, Chamonix and Courmayeur. I was even fortunate enough to go all the way down to Monaco, Sanremo and Nice! With a little bit of planning and maybe some help from your Turing Scheme funding, it is easy to get around and experience everything Switzerland has to offer!

Geneva itself is a beautiful city with punctual public transport and some very cute coffee shops (incredible to study in)… if you want my personal recommendations I’d go to ‘La Livresse’ and ‘Pages & Sips’. Despite being a little pricey, going out to eat with friends is always a nice experience in Geneva and there is nothing quite like a fondue in Bain de Paquis. Get ready for a cheese and chocolate overdose.

Lastly, living in Geneva means winter is taken very seriously… get ready for plenty of snow, mountains and the chance to ski if you don’t already. Chamonix is the closest resort which is easy and cheap to get to by Flixbus or Swiss tours. Here you can enjoy breathtaking mountain views (Mont Blanc does not disappoint) and once enough snow settles, the challenge of a lot of skiing with plenty of après-ski fun.

I hope I have managed to convince you of how fantastic Geneva is as a place to study and live. It is the perfect place to make new friends, practice (and greatly improve) your French and ultimately, have the experience of a lifetime. The year abroad can be a challenge but it is the most rewarding experience I have ever had and I have learnt so much and grown more than I ever believed possible and I would recommend Geneva to anybody hoping to have an unforgettable time abroad.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.