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Muttenz: Visit from Berlin II

The Corona period could not stop Johanna Schmeller from getting to know another country.

Name: Johanna Schmeller
Studies: Industrial education, educational science, mathematics / Arbeitslehre, Erziehungswissenschaften, Mathematik
Home university: Technical University, Berlin


I decided quite spontaneously at the end of May 2020 that I could just as well get to know another country, a new city and a new everyday life for a semester under Corona and the restrictions. By chance, there were remaining places for the PH FHNW in Basel for the autumn semester 2020. So, I decided within two days to do a semester abroad in the second half of the year. After contacting Ms. Wolff (TU) and Ms. Ronsdorf (FHNW), very smoothly and friendly, I oriented myself to the documents of Paula Deutschland, which courses could fit for me. Unfortunately, I did not get into all the courses that I wanted to choose and therefore decided, Corona made it possible, to attend courses of the TU and HU online in parallel from the beginning of November. In addition, I had to look for an apartment, which I also did on the sites Paula mentioned: and Unfortunately, I didn't find anything on either site, so I then also considered student dormitories (for more details, see Accommodation & Food), which turned out to be very good. The FHNW assigned me a buddy (Charline), a student from the business department, who also helped me very friendly with questions.

The registration for the stay is done on site, the documents can be found online for Basel-Stadt. I printed and filled out the forms already at home. In addition, you should think about the bank account. I used my credit card from DKB, alternatively you could open a Swiss bank account for free for the time.


I traveled by train. The connection Berlin-Basel is direct with the ICE and bicycle transport was possible without any problems. Charline picked me up at the Badischer Bahnhof and accompanied me with luggage and bike to my accommodation in Grossbasel, about 25 min walk. In my accommodation, I was received very friendly. The contact persons on site were the manager of the dormitory, Mrs. Ronsdorf from the International Office, and Charline. On site, I went to the registration office and registered for Basel City.

I still had a week before the Welcome Week at FHNW started. Especially with the bike I explored the surrounding area very well alone or together with others, went swimming and got to know the city of Basel.

Accommodation & food

During my stay, I lived in the Catholic Student Residence in Basel City. I can highly recommend this accommodation. The room is small, but nice. I shared the floor with six others (Swiss and students of international origin), i.e., kitchen, toilets and showers. The dormitory has common rooms, a very large and great roof terrace and offers (without Corona even more) activities such as hikes, baking together, Veggi lunch on Tuesday as well as meditations and trips. In addition, the staff:inside are extremely friendly and helpful. For the room I paid 460 CHF which is great for the location. It took me about 30 minutes by bike to get to the FHNW. I bought most of my groceries in Germany, at the Rheincenter (Marktkauf and DM). A 15-minute bike ride along the Rhine and through France.

Overall, I was very happy to live directly in Basel City, so I was able to swim in the Rhine or sit on the Rhine almost every day for the first three weeks, the old town is very beautiful, and you can always find nice alleys to walk and nice stores to stroll. In addition, I was also close to France and Germany and the train stations, which are a good starting point for trips within Switzerland and Germany. So, I can only recommend my accommodation!!!

The university

Under Corona, of course, everything was a bit different this semester. In the beginning, I had at least one course a week on site at the PH in Muttenz, after about 1/3 of the time finally everything online. The lecturers chose, as in Berlin, different formats of teaching. I had weekly synchronous events, alternating synchronous and asynchronous, and exclusively asynchronous events. The biggest difference at the PH was that almost all lecturers introduced themselves to the students by their first names. I perceived this as very pleasant and positive. In addition, all lecturers were very friendly, interested, very accessible and I had the feeling that the well-being and good education of the students were more in the foreground than I am used to in Berlin.

In Basel, I only took courses for industrial science (main subject) or from the educational science part. For my second subject, mathematics, there were no courses fitting my portfolio.

Country & people

I got to know Switzerland and the Swiss people as very pleasant and friendly. The atmosphere is very different from what I'm used to experience in Berlin. It's not for nothing that Basel is one of the ten cities with the highest quality of life in the world. I haven't quite gotten used to Swiss German yet, but the language spoken at the university is predominantly High German. Sometimes words are used a little differently, but you have to find that out in your conversations.

As a small tip, which Charline gave me, "hello" is mostly said to friends (in Switzerland, colleagues), but not when you go into a store or greet strangers. And in a store is always greeted first before you ask something.


For students there is the so-called Colourkey. For 30 CHF you can visit many museums and outdoor pools for free for one year and get discounts on other events and in stores. There are many great museums in Basel, so I can highly recommend the ticket. I also bought the Half-Fare Card for the train. With this you can travel through Switzerland with 50% discount on the train prices. It's worth it to see different cities in Switzerland and go hiking. The ticket costs 120 CHF at the moment. However, I pointed out to the FHNW that foreign students at the University of Basel get most of the ticket refunded and they also wanted to make sure that this would apply at the FHNW in the future.

At the beginning of my stay, I participated in the university sports of the FHNW (usually free of charge and without registration), but this was then discontinued due to Corona. We also have the opportunity to take part in the sports program of the University of Basel. Especially if you live in Basel-City, this is recommended due to the proximity. The courses are usually also free of charge, but you have to register on the deadline days to get a place.

FHNW University Sports

Uni Basel University Sports

I can also recommend using the Baden-Württemberg ticket. For 24 euros (as a group it is cheaper) you can drive for about 24 hours through Baden-Württemberg and see beautiful cities like Constance, Freiburg or Heidelberg.

With two of my flatmates I also started to save food via food sharing. The other food savers were all very friendly and open to take you to sample pickups.

Personal conclusion

I can highly recommend the stay in Basel. Even in Corona times, I experienced a lot, met great people, experienced a new university system and considered a beautiful city my home. Of course, I would have enjoyed the contact with other students within the PH and would also have liked to visit the Autumn Fair, but that can still be made in the future.

My tips

Get to know and visit many new places from the beginning. Especially when it is still warm, and the days are not too short. What I, unfortunately, have not done but will catch up on my next visit to Basel, there are always fireplaces and barbecue facilities in the public, which you can use privately.

In any case, I would take the bike, so you are flexible and much you can reach so very well. And of course, swim in the Rhine and then lie on the stone steps in the sun. It is also worth going to Germany and walk through the vineyards and taste some grapes. Figs, apples and walnuts always tasted great there too.

I spent about 400/450 CHF a month on food and activities in addition to my rent.

The time will go super-fast, so just enjoy every day!!!

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