A semester in Switzerland – The unbelievable story of Carl’s exchange semester in St. Gallen


During our fifth semester the world becomes our oyster. You can spend it surfing in Australia, waltzing around the streets of Tokyo or become a college student in the US. I decided to spend my fifth semester in the Swiss alps at the University of St. Gallen. The city of St. Gallen is almost as big as Lund but the university however is much smaller, it only has 6700 students enrolled. But despite the university’s small size it has a vibrant student life, there are at least as many student run organizations, or clubs as they are called here, at University of St. Gallen, as LundaEkonomerna has committees. However, St. Gallen does not have a nightlife measurable with that of Lund and maybe luckily so. To many nights spent clubbing in St. Gallen has its repercussions.

St Gallen 1Picture of the Abbey Cathedral with St. Gallen in the background. Photo: Carl De Geer

The city of St. Gallen is famous for the Abbey Cathedral and the University of St. Gallen is famous for the large amount of time spent in its library. Not only will the Wednesday and Thursday nights at Trischli make you fall behind in your studies but maybe make god upset as well. Sometimes I do feel jealous when I see my classmates sun tanning in Bali and sipping cocktails in rooftop bars, but Switzerland and University of St. Gallen have other upsides. One of the main reasons I chose to spend my exchange semester here was education, the university has a great reputation and the professors and lecturers are superb. Most courses here have much fewer students then in Lund and it becomes way more fun going to class. Secondly, I chose St. Gallen as my home for a semester because Switzerland is the Singapore of Europe, in the sense that in just a few hours you can be in numerous countries. In Sweden we might make an annual trip to Puttgarden or Sassnitz to purchase alcohol but in Switzerland people living close to the border buy groceries in neighboring countries.

I have not yet gone grocery shopping in another country but I have become mainly vegetarian out of economic reasons. Apart from alcohol everything is more expensive in Switzerland compared to Sweden, minced meat can cost as much as 300 kronor per kilo! That occasional snack or pizza I used to treat myself in Lund has disappeared and with it a few much appreciated kilos. But if the high prices don’t help you stay in shape the free gym the university offers might help. I myself haven’t visited the athletic facility yet but from what I hear it is very nice.

St Gallen 3Laying off pizza made it easier climbing up to the roof! Photo: Carl De Geer

My time has instead been divided between studying, applying for jobs since I realized I did not want to continue my academic career and joining a few clubs. I am now a proud member of three clubs all with very different agendas. The Ausländer Verein meets up every Tuesday to drink beer and listen to Germanys biggest pop hits, the Investing Club has different events focused around banking and finance and UniSGolf plays a weekly round of golf. I myself am not especially active in either of the three clubs but attend the occasional event.

All in all, I am very happy with my choice of exchange university. Even if the prices are absurdly high, a lot of my time is spent in the library and the lack of sandy white beaches I am very happy in St. Gallen. If you do consider choosing St. Gallen as your home during the exchange semester I can assure you that you will not regret it! However, try to attend the Buddy Week, it seemed to have been great fun and something I unfortunately missed. Aufwiedersehen and good luck in choosing your home for the fifth semester!

St Gallen 2The university main building. Photo: Carl De Geer

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