A Day in the Life of Michelle
Get the perspective of a journalism and communcations major from Zurich, Switzerland on campus life.
- What is a typical day for you on campus?
During the week I spend four days attending classes, four to six hours on average. Studying takes up about three hours per day. One day per week I work as a German teacher at a language school. I also swim competitively five times per week for two to three hours per day.
- What do you do for fun? Do you stay at school and get involved with the recreational activities available on campus or go home over the weekend?
In Switzerland, the campus is empty on weekends because most students go home to their families. I usually go home myself. If not, I get together with other students, go to the movies, parties. I do not participate in any recreational activities available on campus because I am very involved with my swim team.
- That's the biggest difference between life in high school and life in college?
There are suddenly more responsibilities. For instance, you're expected to know how to manage your time so that you meet the deadlines. You're expected to study and complete your assignments but nobody is watching over you. Good time management is crucial.
- What's the easiest way to meet people and make friends?
Study groups, tutorials, and small classes. Join political or sports organizations, a theatre group or a committee that organizes school events. There is something for everyone.
- How did you decide on a major?
I went to different classes and chose what I liked best. I also visited my high school library to get some ideas and talked to older friends.
- What were the most helpful classes you took in high school to prepare you for college?
I took Latin so that I could study languages. Knowing Latin has helped me a lot along the road. It gave me a general sense for language structure and grammar, and has made learning other languages easier.
- Is there enough help available if you have trouble with a class?
Yes. Usually our professors tell us about the possibilities. There are plenty of tutorials and study groups that meet regularly, and professors and their assistants offer advice during official consultation hours or by appointment. For me, study groups work best.
- How did you choose a college or university?
I chose the one closest to my hometown so that I could continue training with my swim team. However, since costs and rankings among Swiss universities are about the same, I strongly recommend spending time at universities in the French, Italian as well as German speaking parts of Switzerland if you want to improve your foreign language skills.
- Do you live on campus or off campus? What advantages or disadvantages are there to living on or off campus?
There is no on campus living. I live about 15 minutes from the university in an apartment I share with another student. However, the closer to the university, the more expensive. The nice thing of living close by is that one can schedule classes for every day and choose them much more freely by having certain classes early in the morning and others late in the afternoon.
- If you could go through high school again, what would you do differently?
There is not much I could have done differently. At the high school level, choices were very limited.
- Do you consider your college lifestyle to be balanced and healthy?
Leaving home was quite a shock and it took me a while to get used to preparing my own meals. It was a lot easier when my mom was in charge of breakfast, lunch and dinner and I would get three healthy meals per day. However, I get enough sleep and exercise a lot. Towards the end of a semester, it becomes more difficult to stick with my sleeping habits because of all the exams and semester end parties.