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University in Zurich: A Student’s Guide

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Emily Marron, from Ohio in the US, is studying a Masters in Environmental Science at ETH Zurich. She shares her motivations for attending university in Zurich, what she loves about life in Zurich, and advice for other international students arriving in the city.

I studied environmental engineering in my bachelor at Ohio State, and ETH was very well known in the field of water research. I applied on a whim and got a scholarship (the ETH Excellence Scholarship for master's students). Rather than stay in the US, I thought it would be much more exciting to spend a few years in Zurich!

When I arrived to start university in Zurich, I found it to be one of the most beautiful cities I'd ever seen. The view of Lake Zurich with the Alps in the background is truly breathtaking.

I was also surprised at how clean everything was! It seems like people here are constantly sweeping the sidewalk for any tiny pieces of trash.

Student life in Zurich

Zurich (as with many other places in Europe) really surpasses almost any city in the US in terms of public transportation. I love being able to get around so easily without having to rely on a car, and the trams and trains are almost always on time.

I think my favorite thing about life in Zurich is the summer. All of the students are out and about in the sun, lounging by the river or the lake with a barbeque.

There are so many international students living here, either on an exchange program or for their entire studies. Switzerland as a whole is full of people of all different backgrounds, and in Zurich you can find a lot of diversity. It is also really easy to meet other international students, as there are some enrolled in every course!

I have found that Swiss people can be a little bit less friendly than in other cultures at first, but once you put forth some effort and time, they are some of the nicest and most supportive friends you can have.

Things to do in Zurich

The view from the Üetliberg, a really tall “hill" (I would call it a mountain), is one of my favorite spots in Zurich. From there, on a clear day, you can see the entire city of Zurich. Langstrasse is one of the most popular streets for students to spend time on the weekends – there are many bars and clubs.

My personal favorite area is the "old" town of Zurich, also known as the Niederdorf. The buildings look so majestic and full of history, and many of them have really cool bars. I really like Henrici and Cafe Grande.

Zurich and the surrounding area is good for any type of outdoor activity, from swimming to snowboarding. I like going on small hikes in nearby areas and swimming in the lake or river during the summer. Any type of nature is so close.

My advice for new international students starting university in Zurich? Explore the city to find out everything it has to offer. There are so many things to do in Zurich! Also, do your best to be outgoing to meet other students so that you can feel right at home.

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