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Sarah Schläfli

Sarah Schläfli took the opportunity to do a double degree in Prague and spent one additional semester at the University of Chemistry and Technology Prague.

Interview with Sarah Schläfli

Field of study: MSc Bioanalytics
Stay abroad: Double Degree
Host institution: University of Chemistry and Technology Prague
Semester: Fall 2021

What made you decide, what motivated you to go abroad?
Mainly, it was the future career opportunities that prompted me to do a double degree. I am aiming for a doctorate after my master's degree, for which a university degree is an advantage. But of course, studying abroad was always something I wanted to do in my life to gain new international and intercultural experiences. I have always loved traveling around and seeing new places and countries, but living in a foreign country for a period of time is never the same.

Why did you choose your host institution/country?
For the Bioanalytics specialization, I didn't really have a choice of host institution. Nevertheless, Prague is a great city, and I was glad that this city/country/university was the host for my double degree.

What is your everyday life like? What does a typical day at the host institution look like?
I lived in a shared apartment and of course spent a lot of time at the apartment. I had some classes every day during weekdays, which at the beginning of the semester, were conducted in presence. Therefore, I traveled to the university for my courses and for my lab project which also made a big part of my time spent at the university. Towards the end of the semester, many courses were switched back to online mode and my lab project was also finished. From that point on, I stayed at the apartment more often for online lectures and barely traveled to the university anymore. In the evening/afternoon I often met up with friends to go sightseeing, visit parks or just have a beer together. Compared to my life at home, I spent much more time being out with friends. On weekends we often traveled to other cities in the Czech Republic or I had friends visiting from Switzerland.

Tell us about your research and your research findings during your residency.
Most of my subjects at university were lectures with no real research included. I had one bigger lab project where I was able to plan, execute and analyze all experiments by myself. My project was in the field of microbiology, and I investigated the influence of viticulture extracts on the growth on different pathogenic bacteria. Unfortunately, I cannot tell anything about the results of the study. It was great to experience some lab work outside of Switzerland, where they may not be as well equipped or have different procedures in general.

What surprised you the most about your stay abroad?
Even though the Czech Republic is not that far from Switzerland, the culture at the university and also in general is quite different. I traveled a lot in my past, but there is a big difference between traveling and living in a foreign country for half a year. It took me quite some time to get used to the new circumstances. Therefore, I guess my biggest surprise was my personal development, which I did not expect to be so huge.
Another surprise for me was that in Czechia all subjects are taught only in Czech. Therefore, English classes are held separately for foreign students. Personal exchange with local students is very rare.

If I had known at the beginning that... What tip would you like to give to future exchange students.
Unlike in Switzerland, in Prague almost all students stay in dorms, and therefore spend a lot of time together. I decided to stay in a shared apartment in the city center, because I didn’t want to share a bedroom with other students and the dorms were 45min from the city center. If I had known that 90% of the students live together in dorms, I would have considered  that as well. In the end, I don’t regret my decision, but if I had known that from the beginning, I would have taken more time to think about it.
Also, if I had known from the beginning that I will have to take a Czech state exam after my studies I would maybe have taken different subjects at the UCT, that would be more suitable for the state exam.

Would you like to share anything else?
For anyone thinking about doing an exchange semester, I highly recommend it! It was one of my best experiences and allowed me to grow personally.

Ab ins Ausland?

Unsere Studierenden profitieren von der internationalen Vernetzung der Hochschule für Life Sciences. Ein Auslandsaufenthalt bei unseren Partnerschulen ist bei Bachelor- wie auch Master-Studierenden sehr begehrt. Nicht nur, um den persönlichen Horizont zu erweitern, sondern auch, um neue soziale und kulturelle Kompetenzen zu erwerben.

Im Rahmen unseres Masterprogramms können ausgewählte Studierende durch ein zusätzliches Semester an einer unserer Partnerschulen, zwei Diplome erhalten. Das Double-Degree Programm ist besonders attraktiv für Masterstudierende, die anschliessend eine Promotion anstreben. Weitere Details zum Double-Degree-Programm finden Sie im hier.

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