The internship and Switzerland were incredible, but the program is problematic Past Review

By (Public Health, Brandeis University) - abroad from 01/12/2015 to 04/27/2015 with

Boston University: Geneva - Internship Program

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned so much about how to conduct myself in an international community in the world headquarters of public health, I learned a tremendous amount about international public health and cultures that I could not learn in the class room from my internship, and I've gained incredible networking and work experiences from the internship. The internship, which is what made me choose the BU program as it is guaranteed and provided for you, and the incredible nature of the country of Switzerland made the program worthwhile, despite the issues with the program and the way it depleted my bank account.

Review Photos

Boston University: Geneva - Internship Program Photo Boston University: Geneva - Internship Program Photo Boston University: Geneva - Internship Program Photo Boston University: Geneva - Internship Program Photo Boston University: Geneva - Internship Program Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I thought the Internship phase was an incredible learning experience, but I found the public health courses in the program to be irrelevant and non-compelling. I found the French course I took, the level 2 french course, to not teach useful French to use in Geneva.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The BU staff had very poor communication skills. They would let us know very important pieces of information with very little notice. They also were very unclear about what activities we were allowed to get involved with in the University of Geneva. They were very limiting on our cultural experience.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Our housing was in a great location. The facilities themselves were for the bedrooms, but not great for bathrooms and kitchens.

* Food:

The provided food for us every day in the "continental breakfast" was only bread and some cereal. Especially in a city that is one of the most expensive cities in the world, it would have been nice to have some nutrients, like fruits or proteins, guaranteed for breakfast.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I went out of my way to join clubs at the University of Geneva, that were advertised to us at the BU Geneva student orientation held by the BU staff, only to be denied my participation in 2 of them, after my applications to the programs were done and accepted by the university clubs, by the BU staff, even though these 2 programs were specifically advertised to us in the rientation organized by the BU staff. They even brought in outside speakers from the university to discuss these events. Also, living in a BU house, with American students, and attending classes only with these students leaves you feeling isolated from the Swiss culture. It felt like a teen tour.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I had a few experiences with health care, one after getting into a sledding accident, and several referring to dealing with a sudden and new allergic reaction and dealing with the residual burns and rashes. For health problems, they recommend a local health care facility. They doctors and nurses were fantastic but there were major issues because of the language barrier. It would be nice if the BU staff were available to help their students by offering to accompany them in the translating process, as many of the staff are Francophone or bilingual. I felt extremely unaided by the program themselves for health problems.

* Safety:

I never felt unsafe in this program or in Geneva, or even Switzerland.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

IT WAS SO HARD STAYING ON BUDGET IN GENEVA!!! I didn't realize just how expensive this city is, even for necessary staples like groceries. The trains were extremely expensive, even to go to neighboring towns, even with the track 7 half rail card I bought as recommended by my program, and the planes out of the Geneva airport were also far more expensive than flights out of other European airports.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $250 +/- expenses if I traveled that week
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Try your best to stock up on groceries in France and bring them back to Switzerland. I was sickened by the expenses of food staples. And don't go out to eat. The average minimum cost for one plate of food is 22 CHF. Even McDonald's will cost you 15 CHF for a burger, a drink, and fries.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Beginner French
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Go to the post office. I learned enough French to survive the package sending process and became comfortable conducting myself there entirely in French.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Internship
  • Location
  • Safety
* What could be improved?
  • Staff communication
  • Integration with the culture/language
  • Food and services provided by program
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? How hard it would be, as a non-BU student, to fit in socially in this program, as well as technically. I suffered many technical hardships with BU, as i didn't have a BU Black Board account or email address, that left me hanging for weeks at a time as BU Tech support tried to get me access to my online assignment portal and course materials.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Networker
An active student leader, it was important for you to network abroad as well. Once overseas, you sought out student clubs, volunteered with local organizations, or attended community events. You encouraged your friends join you, and often considered how you could reflect your international experiences in a resume.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

SPH PH 506: Principles of International Health (4)

Course Department: Public Health
Instructor: David Henri Beran
Instruction Language: English
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

CAS FR 213: Intermediate French I (4)

Course Department: French
Instructor: Monia Mighali
Instruction Language: French
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

SPH PH 507: Controversies in International Health (4)

Course Department: Public Health
Instructor: David Henri Beran
Instruction Language: English
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

CAS PS 495: Internship in Health and Human Services

Course Department: Public Health
Instruction Language: English
Credit Transfer Issues: