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Summer 2022

Semester Exchange - Jan edition

March 21, 2023
- Janani

How To Apply?

To all the people who will ask me in the future, how did you apply for semester exchange? Keep checking your emails for information since the international relation cell usually mails when the portals open up. Then just wait for the floodgates to open on the number of documents you would have to collect and submit over the course of the next 2 months. This would be the first time you would feel like an adult in your life since all this was handled by your parents before, and now you gotta keep deadlines in mind. For more detailed information, check out the previous article on exchange at Lucerne university. The only fact that has changed from then to now is that we don’t have to take up 30 ECTS (basically ECTS is another term for credits, I don’t know full either honey), oh fun.

Now that we got over the excruciating part of applying and getting accepted and all, let’s get to the fun part. Getting to swiss itself is a struggle from India, you spend an insane amount of money on flight tickets, only to be hit with the reality that international flights are not so different from domestic flights and layovers are no fun. In my case, I had no idea until halfway through if my landlord kept my keys in the key box or not. Am I going to be stranded when I land? The panic was real, but it worked out in the end.

The first thing I would think about living in a different country is food - it’s pretty cheap if you cook yourself. Bring a spice box and pressure cooker to make amazing meals. The will to cook versus time is an inverse gradient graph. By the end, I was surviving on frozen pizza and cornflakes which are pretty good. Forget eating out if you are vegetarian cause there are not many options or you would have to make a huge dent in your wallet. Restaurants or food delivery, forget it for five months unless you got monies to spend but yeah, supermarkets are your best friend. The peak of broke people behavior is when one takes photographs of same products from different supermarkets to compare prices with the help of excel. Now I can add excel to the list of software I know in my resume.

The results of my research were:

  • get vegetables, cornflakes from Coop or Migros, and anything else from Lidl. (yes Coop, Migros, and Lidl are supermarket names)

  • Migros M budget line is the best thing, I am impressed by their marketing technique, placing their own brand product which is significantly cheaper next to other commonly known brands. Good job convincing me to buy. Interestingly, Swiss people don’t work on sundays. I am serious, groceries are not open on Sunday or after 5 pm. Wild concept, coming from India where stuff is always open and what is a Sunday? Many people in IITR don’t have the concept of weekends.


One of the other concerns of a person who would freeze and almost die in Roorkee winter is How would I survive in minus 0-degree conditions Plus Europe currently has an energy crisis, so forget warm heating. I get it, but I am freezing okay. You can get a small heater for pretty cheap and that helped me through. Now, coming to the location of the student housing, it is usually super close to the train station which is the coolest thing - the amount of adulting I felt when we ran to catch the bus because who is always on time? Well, It depends on your location and how far the university is, for me it was 40 min ride with a transfer in between. I have done crazy transfers in under a minute or running to catch the bus with my professor and both of us missed it and looked at each other like alright, let’s take the next connection. Swiss transport needs a separate article to praise it. It’s clean, warm, efficient, and cheap if you get the right passes. Two passes I would recommend are a zone pass (for Luzern city - since one travels to campus every day) and the after sevenpass which is worth the money you spend since it’s only 40 francs per month and a one-way ticket from Luzern to Zurich is 30 francs. Now the one-way ticket from Luzern to Zurich was around 20 francs with the Half-fare card. You must be like, wait that doesn’t make sense, IK the Half-fare card costs around 120 francs per year and since you would be there for 6 months - one can’t reap its potential to the fullest. So, how does one save money on travel even further - Book one day earlier - you can get the Supersaver discount if you book just a day earlier - For example - a one-way ticket from Luzern to Zurich was around 15 francs with both supersaver and half fare.

Transitioning smoothly into traveling, planning well in advance is crucial because travel and accommodation are super expensive last minute. But imagine spending only 8k in Munich or something. The broke way of traveling is by using after sevenpass and going to places at the oddest of hours like 7 am and then waiting in the train station because it is freezing outside. You are saving money but at the cost of your health. But hey, you feel good at the end okay? Again pack meals if you’re vegetarian and prepare to eat them super cold since you can’t microwave them. Tips for broke travelers like me, universities, and libraries are warm zones you can stay in for a while or use the restroom without paying. Yeah, you gotta pay for the restroom unless it’s on trains which is not cool, but that’s the reason they are spotless. Try not to miss annual fests and markets, they are so much fun. Going Outside Switzerland is a really cool experience but it requires a lot of planning. There are many budget-friendly options - flix bus and youth hostels for the win. Or you can travel like me to only places that you can visit within a day like Milan. One thing about Milan is the food is amazing and the clothing is cheap. Forget about trying to buy a winter jacket, go down to Milan, do all your shopping, and come back to Luzern because everything is way more expensive in Switzerland. If you wanna buy stuff from India before coming here that would be better. All you need is one heavy-duty jacket and waterproof shoes for walking in the snow.

Regardless of where you travel, You can always find someone Tamil or Indian if you visit popular tourist spots. If I took public transport, the chances we find a tamil person in the bus or train is so high. I used to love the wholesome interaction I had with aunties and uncles who told me stories about how they immigrated to the country, the kind of struggle they went through to get there. I met people of various ages telling me like someone who was my brother’s age was telling how they were in a war just a few years ago, and now they are leading a better life. I wouldn’t had the confidence to talk to strangers and share life experiences but being outside of your country and finding comfort in your language just gives you that extra push to be more social.

Well, we can’t leave out the actual reason, you are traveling all the way to Switzerland, hello?

It doesn’t feel like I did a lot of academic work, but by the end, I had done so much work by just trying to match the level of work of regular swiss students do. You can feel the knowledge and age gap at times like in HSLU (Hochschule Luzern). People go all in and it’s really motivating to see people work and produce amazing designs. Definitely want to bring this kind of culture back to Roorkee. All of us are proud of the work we put out but there is always some sort of catch, we didn’t get to travel outside Switzerland much since we didn’t have enough time. The professors are really nice, we didn’t have to call them sir or ma’am, we just called them by their surnames.

The way they had planned out the semester was really impressive and made me want to study. For example, any theory I studied in construction class, I would be using in the design studio. We went on case study tours about similar construction so that we can learn from them and use in our designs. All the classes and subjects were interlinked and the pacing of the submissions gave us enough time to make the designs good.


Concluding facts thoughts whatever because this article is too long already, consider this a sequel to the previous article on a semester exchange. I am just sharing random facts and trying to cover all topics one would have doubts about. PACK ONLY HOODIES, don’t be like me packing only two hoodies. That’s dumb south Indian behavior. I do have regrets like not making as many friends as possible, but then again, I was trying to balance work, academics, and life so it’s fine you win some you lose some. Be punctual and follow deadlines, as swiss people are very serious about it. Have fun if you get to go. I hope it was fun to at least read about broke student tips and experiences. Peace.

PS: Hit in DMS if you wanna the cool backstory behind how the majority of this article was written, hehe - those who know, know.