Hi, my name is Gabriele, I am a third-year Politics and International Relations student and I have just finished my semester exchange in Geneva, Switzerland!

I have absolutely loved my entire time there and have made friends from all across the globe that I will appreciate always. Geneva, is a very international city in the French part of Switzerland, meaning that making friends from all over the world is very easy to do if you put yourself out there!

What is study-life like?

In comparison to Southampton, studying in Geneva is more relaxed, they do not have seminars as often as we do and (depending on your lecturer) the readings are relatively shorter. If not speaking French is an issue that’s preventing you from coming to study here, it is not a major concern, since the University offers many courses in English no matter the subject that you study. Lunch times are an important part of the French side of Switzerland, so there are usually no classes from 12-2pm. In addition to this, all lectures are recorded so if you miss one by over-sleeping (or maybe even travelling), it is very easy to catch up.

Some of the content differs (in terms of my experience in Politics and International Relations) from what we are taught at the University of Southampton, as you get to learn more about the political life and differences of countries all over the world, the Swiss political system is particularly interesting, as I have learned that they have 7 presidents!

Overall, you need to set aside time for studying and reading, I have found that it is a lot more laid back than the UK University system, although this can just be the influence of the French lifestyle in Geneva.

What is there to do?

Geneva is not a student city, but rather a financial/diplomatic centre of Europe therefore, the social life is not the same as it is in Southampton. There are lots of great bars not far from the main University building (UniMail) and they are relatively decently priced, but if you venture out into the Old Town or by the Jet d’eau then the prices do increase by quite a lot.

If night-life is not really your thing, then there are lots of other things to do in and around Geneva. I have travelled all across Switzerland and France, as mostly every weekend my friends and I would visit a new place. Near to Geneva, there is Mont Saleve, a 1379m hike where you can see all of Geneva from. Otherwise, in the warmer months (September and October reached 30 degrees) then you can swim in the Lake, or head down to Annecy which gives off Lake Como vibes.

I highly recommend joining the ESN Geneve group, as they organise loads of trips across Switzerland regularly that are cheaper than if you were to book alone with your friends. Otherwise, train tickets are extremely pricey, but what I had done was get a ‘friends-day-pass’, where a group of 4 people pay 80chf and can travel the whole day in Switzerland.

In addition to this, since you are in the middle of Europe, flights are not too expensive on the right days, and you can visit other countries in and around Europe.

How expensive is it really?

The main conception that people have of Switzerland is that it is really expensive. This is true to some extent. Renting in Switzerland, not through University accommodation is expensive, if you’re lucky enough to find a place through the University then the prices will not be too different to rent in Southampton.

The price of food and medicine is where you really see a difference, if you eat meat, 500g of mince from coop can be a minimum of 15chf which is almost triple what you would pay in Portswood Sainsbury’s. Of course there are some cheaper places to do your groceries, but all in all it is a lot more expensive than the UK.

In terms of night-life/bars, most of the cocktails and drinks are what I call ‘central-london’ prices. Where a cocktail in the city will cost you a minimum 15chf. For dinner the prices also reflect the same, although there are some places where they do student discounts this is quite rare for Geneva.

However, there is an organisation called ‘La Farce’, where if you are a student you pay 20chf for a whole academic year, in which you can come and collect some vegetables/bread/pasta weekly, so this saves quite a bit of money. (Depending on the day you go, they sometimes offer lunch and crepes too!)

All in all, Geneva/Switzerland is an expensive place so it is important to ensure that you save some money before coming, if you’ve lived (or visited) in London, then the prices are somewhat similar, but in some instances a lot more.


I have absolutely loved my time in Geneva, the places I have been, the people I have met and the experiences I have faced will remain with me forever. If you are on the fence on whether to study abroad here or anywhere else in the world, I would say definitely do it! You become a lot more independent and challenge yourself daily, but it is the most rewarding experience you will ever do.

If you have any more questions feel free to email me 🙂 gm5g21@soton.ac.uk

Good Luck!!

Geneva, is it worth it?

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