Taking my affairs international (and spending too much money)! April 07, 2022

By (International Relations, Wellesley College) - abroad from 08/30/2021 to 12/23/2021 with

Geneva Graduate Institute and Wellesley College - BA/MA Program

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was a great experience on living more independently. It was incredibly worthwhile.

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 think the school had a great breadth of interesting classes. The academics are not more or less difficult than Wellesley it is just a different style. The school hosts great lectures with incredible outside guests and faculty panelists.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I think there is a lot less support than what you get at Wellesley College. Often times dealing with the administration, or housing admin can be confusing and bureaucratic. There is also limited support or information in helping you deal with the Swiss authorities which is a confusing process.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The dorm that I lived in was really beautiful and brand new. Dealing with the housing administration was very difficult. The rules in the residence hall didn't always make sense. The housing administration were sometimes unresponsive. Additionally in my understanding, housing was separate from the school's administration and this became difficult when I had to attempt to explain my program to them.

* Food:

There is only a cafeteria at the Institute and the meals are overpriced (they are working at having more affordable meals). Buying food can be really expensive in Geneva, but there are some cheaper grocery stores like Aldi and Denner. Plus you can go into France to do your shopping.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt well integrated within the school community. Most people are international students and only a small minority are Swiss. Students are pretty engaged and eager to meet new people.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't have to use the healthcare system but getting healthcare was really easy and the school helped set that up. It was a bit difficult to navigate COVID regulations at times, but the school provided free COVID tests for students.

* Safety:

Geneva is a really safe city, and I felt comfortable almost all the time. Public transport is really reliable, clean, and accessible and Geneva is a walkable city.

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)

Geneva is a very expensive city. The cheapest student accommodation offered by the Graduate Institute was 850 CHF a month. Food as well is very expensive, and even with cheap meal hacks, I was probably spending around 100-120 CHF on food a week. A monthly discount transportation pass is 45 CHF. Doing one load of laundry cost about 7 CHF. Then you have other additional monthly costs like a phone bill and health insurance. There are also some one-time costs like getting your residency permit which for non-EU citizens is about 275 CHF.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Around 120-175 CHF a week
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? For grocery shopping, you can shop at Aldi and Denner to save money. Also getting to France is easy and groceries are more affordable there.


* 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

The Graduate Institute is bilingual but most students speak English with each other. Learning French is valuable when navigating the city.

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? I had never taken French before
How many hours per day did you use the language?

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Direct Enrollment

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • International Students
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?
  • the people
  • the city
  • engaging my academic interest
* What could be improved?
  • housing
  • more continuity on requirements
  • less expensive
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I understood more about how the rules work in Switzerland with visa, residency, covid policy, working, etc..