It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Past Review

By (International Relations and Affairs., Brigham Young University) - abroad from 05/31/2013 to 07/31/2013 with

Brigham Young University: European Internship Program

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was something BYU couldn't have anticipated and something a person couldn't plan for. It was both great and terrible. I learned to do further research and to be more aware of exactly what I'm getting myself into. Though I wouldn't do it again, I would say it was worthwhile.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I learned a lot about Switzerland but went to many other places as well. As Switzerland was in central Europe, I found myself able to travel with the other interns in the program. We went to Italy, Germany, Belgium, The UK, and France. The academic expectations were very reasonable. Mainly we were supposed to monitor our activities and focus on learning the culture as best as time would permit. The resources to turn to were limited to our imaginations. If we had any questions we could turn to any number of the contacts we made while in the United Nations. We received and direction from our coordinators both on ground and in Provo.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The contact that was in country, or the on ground coordinator was a kind lady, however, she had trouble remembering the things we told her (projects we were working on, meetings we were attending, our weekend and grassroots activities), which made relations hard to maintain. After sending her a thank you email from a different country I began working in (because she did not deliver on helping with the grassroots project), she responded by CCing partner NGOs that I was working on projects with and chastised me for things we had clearly discussed before I had left. I was clear that professionally she was harming herself. I think she was gaining years to her life and finally was feeling the mental effects of it.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was lucky in terms of location and host. Our host provided us with many things beyond our basic needs like access to bikes, use of her car, and she made dinner for us every other night while she was there. The only caveat I would point out (and its a big one) was another lady who lived downstairs from us. She was a very needy person. Kind heart but had no concept of personal space. Our host left the country for the states and left this other lady in charge of some things which made her feel she could just let herself in at any time. Also, when nagotiating price with the host, we talked it down from 850 CHF per month to 750 for the big room if we helped out around the house. We thought that might entail a couple of smaller projects. However, the work load neared that of a part time job for a couple weeks there. We far outworked the costs saved. In short, Pegny Chambessy was a hop and a skip from the UN building and we had access to many great options, but had I known the mental costs for living out there, I probably would have chosen somewhere else.

* Food:

I loved the meals our host would make. I loved the native foods like raclette and goulard, and I loved that the main diet was bread, chocolate, and cheese cheese cheese.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

It was exciting to meet people in Switzerland, but there were not many natives since its a very international country. I spent a lot of time meeting other interns and professionals from all walks of life. I was treated with great respect by most all of them developing a working relationship we will all refer back to later in life. Furthermore, those who had been living there for a longer period of time made me fee welcome immediately.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't have any health issues, but my someone else in the same program as me did and he had access to health resources without any problems. The health care that BYU provides covered all of the bill I believe showing that it works. Switzerland is also not known for being the cheapest place either.

* Safety:

I lived in a sleepy little shire type town just outside of Geneva called Chambessy. It was the safest city I have ever lived in, except maybe Kumagaya Japan. Often I would go on walks with or without my roommate at night and never really felt uncomfortable about it. It was a community where everyone chose there because of the social contract of maintaining a standard of security.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No


* 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)

Not a student friendly program. However, with that being said, it was Geneva Switzerland and it was the United Nations. These things are going to cost a bit of money. Housing was CHF750/month (after negotiations for much lower costs) and food was average CHF500/month. If you know how to bargain shop and get across the border into France then it can be manageable.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? CHF125 = $135
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I would make sure to take the bus into Ferney-Voltaire, France to Co-op. The prices literally are 1/3 the price as soon as you cross from Switzerland into France. Purchase the bus basses at the TPG office the train station Gare Cornivan. Its CHF40 for the Geneva Area/month and CHF70 for a wide area which covers the Co-op area.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

It was not required but I did spend a good amount of time learning the local langauge, French.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
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? none
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? Memorize vocab words, phrases, and poetry/stories. Memorization helps a lot when your in person.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Other
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with? 10+

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • International Political Experience
  • Language Immersion
  • Independence
* What could be improved?
  • New in country coordinator
  • More Organization
  • Grassroots Project Options
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had known who the coordinator was.

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.