Would recommend, personal initiative is extremely important January 12, 2016

By (Biology, Public Health, Brandeis University) - abroad from 08/19/2015 to 12/01/2015 with

SIT Study Abroad: Switzerland - Global Health and Development Policy

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Definitely worthwhile. With this program especially, you have to take and seek the opportunities given you. You won't be forced into it. TRAVEL. Switzerland is int he middle of Europe and traveling is super cheap. Definitely do it.

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.

The program is advertised as being intense, academically. It is not. So, I had to adjust my expectations. A better way to describe it is that they provide you with many great opportunities and connections through lectures and visits, but then it's up to you to make the most of them. Disclaimer: I'm a pre-med/bio student, so when I hear academically intense or difficult, I think of things like organic chemistry where you are forced to study all the time or fail. This is a different kind of academic work, which is fine. Just not what I, or many students, expected.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The school is small which gave me great, direct access with the admins who were hardworking and helpful. It's worth mentioning that I hear they are expanding the program, which will probably necessitate a change to this structure, so I'm not sure how it will play out int he future.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My home stay experience was fantastic and gave me a better experience studying abroad overall. It's the best way to really understand the culture.

* Food:

It was Switzerland, are you kidding? Chocolate and cheese galore. Plus the homestay family cooked for me, and it was delicious.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

+ : We heard from professionals in relevant fields who worked in the area - : The program consisted exclusively of American students, so if you wanted to meet locals outside your homestay family you had to do it on your own time. However, you did have time to do that, but *you* have to make it happen.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't have any issues in Switzerland, but some of my friends did and as far as I know the program was very helpful and accommodating. I did, however, have minor issues in Morocco and the program admins took care of me immediately with medicines/natural remedies that they'd brought with them. If that didn't work they would have sent me to a doctor.

* Safety:

It was Geneva, so it was very safe. I'd suggest always carrying a map, paying attention during the orientation tours, and exploring in daylight hours to become more familiar with it overall. The public transportation is great. There's the one main bust station - Cornavin - and almost all of the buses stop there eventually. So if you're ever lost, just hop on a bus going towards that station (or that connects with one that does), and you're home free.

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)

Geneva is one of the most expensive cities in the world. Having a homestay family helps.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Probably $50, not including traveling. Again, most of that comes from money you pay the program and then they give back to you for food.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? BUY YOU TOILETRIES AHEAD OF TIME - IF the stores have what you need, it is probably literally twice as expensive. PACK LUNCH. The program gives you cash back from what you paid as lunch stipends. They assume something like $12 for lunch. If you pack lunch everyday, which is really easy to do, you'll have that money to spend on other things, like traveling or souvenirs. Flights within Europe are dirt cheap, and hostels are your friend. If you research and book ahead of time and it's possible to visit another city for a weekend for $200 including flights and lodging.

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

We took French classes, and lived in a Francophone area. The other classes were all in English though.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Advanced
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Upper level college.
How many hours per day did you use the language? 10+
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Read the news in French. Flashcards are your friend. If you speak little or no French, try to learn some basic greetings, phrases, and numbers before you go. Count on your host family not speaking French. Use this book if you speak little or no French before you start the program: http://www.amazon.com/Practice-Perfect-Complete-French-Grammar/dp/007178781X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1452618693&sr=8-1&keywords=french+grammar

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

  • 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?
  • Organizations, connections in Geneva area
  • Independence, flexibility
  • Home stay experience
* What could be improved?
  • Travel restrictions
  • Visiting more organizations and fewer museums (with the program)
  • More contact with local students
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Again, it isn't as forcibly rigorous as expected. Ultimately, this is a good thing - I got to pursue the subjects/activities that interested me most as long as I met the minimum requirements for others, and I had time to travel and relax. I just wish I'd known that ahead of time so I would have been mentally prepared.

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 Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!