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Life is a Box of Swiss Chocolates: Endings and New Beginnings

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Life is a Box of Swiss Chocolates is a recurring column showcasing the life of a UFV student studying abroad. Jennifer is in Lucerne, Switzerland at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts this semester, and documenting the process as she goes.

You should know that at this very moment, I’m sitting on the bed at my Airbnb, eating some strange dried fruit from a Greek island, and dried banana chips I bought at a market close to the Acropolis. I also have the fan in my room on full blast, since I’m a little bit on the burnt side from my Athens beach hopping today. But I finally feel like I have destressed from exams and the packing up of five months of my life in Switzerland.

Let me just say, the exam style in Switzerland is nothing like the exam style in Canada, at least not at UFV. One of my exams had two parts: during the first, we were given 90 minutes to answer 15 multiple choice and eight long answers. The second part allowed us 30 minutes for eight multiple choice and three long answers. My second exam allowed 60 minutes for eight long answers. The first exam was worth 100 per cent and the other was worth 70 per cent. Are you sweating yet? I’m getting anxious just thinking about it again.


But it’s done, and I can say I at least attempted to complete a semester in one of the toughest countries, academically speaking. Oh, and I forgot to mention that you need roughly 62 per cent to pass the course. Let’s talk at the end of July when I get my grades back and see how I feel then. As tough as it was, though, I honestly wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s a really cool feeling to know business students on the other side of the world are learning the same things you are, and I’m proud of myself for completing such a daunting task, no matter the outcome. It’s good to get an idea of what other academic styles there are in the world.

Now here’s where the real stress comes in, because — being the genius that I am — I decided it would be a good idea to leave Switzerland the day after my exams were done. (It helped that flights to Greece were cheaper at that particular time of the week.) I didn’t take into account all the stuff I had accumulated in my room, or that going through it would trigger so many emotions. I had to get rid of a lot of stuff I simply couldn’t take with me. On top of all that, saying goodbye to everyone was very draining. I wouldn’t suggest this tactic. I feel like I kind of rushed out of the country in a swirl of stress, but I think I will get a flight back to Canada from Zurich so I have an opportunity to properly say goodbye to a country that I absolutely fell head over heels for.

It is sad to know the experience is over, but I am so excited to start backpacking around Europe. My plan is Athens, Budapest, Vienna, Prague, Berlin, Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, Amsterdam, a little tour of France, and then end in Zurich. Should be exciting!

I would recommend to anyone to go on an exchange semester. I found Switzerland particularly intriguing because the landscape is quite similar to Canada, and B.C. in particular, with all the mountains and lakes, but the culture is totally different. The people think differently, the society works on different values, and it is amazing to see people your age dressed like you and using some English slang you use, but who are also totally different at the same time. Plus, it gives you a chance to do something crazy, like backpack around Europe (or wherever your study abroad is) for the summer until school starts again.

I have had such an enjoyable time writing these columns, and I really appreciate people taking the time to read them and give me feedback. I hope that if you ever considered a study abroad semester that you take it. You will not regret this experience, I promise you that!

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