Excellent experiential learning that one could not gain in any other city. January 31, 2018

By (Wellesley College) - abroad from 09/18/2017 to 12/22/2017 with

Geneva Graduate Institute - Undergraduate Semester Programme

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Extremely worthwhile, it was the reason I changed my major from Neuroscience to Economics, and the exposure it gave through the mentoring program and through academics, of what development and international affairs is like in the real world, was unparalleled.

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.

The classes at the Institute were a wonderful experience. Being able to take graduate classes that offers such a depth of knowledge, in a truly global setting that offers such a breadth of perspectives was extremely valuable. The rigor of class content was high, and there were fewer and larger assignments as opposed to regular, small ones (one long research paper at the end of the class / one individual or group presentation in a seminar/ two problem sets in the econ class / one midterm etc.). The course on Macroeconomic Policy for Open Economies was constructed specifically for undergraduates, and we received very close attention and a rich learning experience, while also having one central class that all of us took together.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Extremely well-tailored to each individual students' interests and needs.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

While I personally had a wonderful renting experience through one of the options given by the Institute themself, it did not work quite as well for everyone in the program since it really was a matter of luck. Housing options were also given fairly late in the semester, which meant most student housing options in the city were already exhausted. Each student was in a different part of the city, with options ranging from entire studio apartments to renting a room within a larger house and sharing common areas and within the range of $600-$1000 per month. While I was personally quite lucky, the arrangement as a whole could be improved upon.

* Food:

Food was not incorporated into the program, beyond the presence of a student cafeteria at the Institute for which we paid out of pocket. If you are on Wellesley Financial Aid, you are given living expenses which is expected to cover this. Food can get extremely expensive in Geneva - most of us on the program did the majority of our grocery shopping across the border in France or upon returning from holidays from other cities, and eating out within Geneva was extremely rare due to costs.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Since students in this program are the only undergraduates at the Institute, and since the group was not big in itself, the program felt slightly isolating and not as socially immersive at times. Socialising really fell on personal initiative, which was difficult when the Institute is not exactly a residential university, and peers are graduate students who are often much older and may have jobs or spouses. The efforts made by the institute to make sure we were familiar with Geneva were plentiful and very well appreciated (first day walking tour and fondue lunch, cocktail evenings with Smith centre, trip to museum, final dinner)

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* I did not have any health related incidents and therefore can not attest to this at all.

* Safety:

Geneva is an extremely safe city. We were also extremely well taken care of and looked after by the Institute, who would constantly be touching base and following up with us.

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

Finances

* 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)

1.5 - Geneva is extremely expensive and there wasn't really much the program could do about it. While I remained within budget, I only managed to do so by really spending a lot of time and effort on budgeting and rarely eating out in Geneva. I also stopped eating at the student cafeteria after realising how much more expensive it was (even with the student discount) than cooking yourself with groceries bought across the border

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? - Buy groceries in France / whenever you travel over weekends - Do not eat out in Geneva except things extremely special to the city and cant find elsewhere (fondue), it is really not value for money. Instead, prioritise such that you can eat out comfortably when travelling abroad and compromise during the weeks in the city.

Language

* 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

There was only a once a week course for French, with people from the Institute who placed into the same level as yours. Especially in intermediate level, this still meant that there were a wide range of level and ability in each class room, and since French is not a graded class for students of the institute, the course was not taken as seriously and material felt dilute and inconsistent

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
How many hours per day did you use the language? 0

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • International Students

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The Mentoring program - meeting professionals from INGOs or any organisation I expressed any interest in
  • Graduate Classes
* What could be improved?
  • Housing - More taken care of
  • Integration with the graduate students
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Just how expensive Geneva really is, and that the Undergraduate Program only had Wellesley students in its first year.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.