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Muttenz: Visit from Flensburg

Carl Philipp Hendricks, who is spending three months at the PH FHNW, marvels at the incredibly beautiful Swiss landscape and enjoys the cultural as well as the culinary.

Name: Carl Philipp Hendricks
Studies: Doctorate in Sports Science / Promotion Sportwissenschaft
Home University: European University Flensburg in Flensburg, Germany

Preparation

I decided on the exchange at the FHNW because the team of the Chair of Sport and Sport Didactics in Adolescence is working on interesting topics concerning physical education in teaching as well as in research. For my Ph.D., I hoped to gain valuable and profitable exchange as well as insights into physical education teacher education in Switzerland. In addition, I, unfortunately, did not manage to go abroad during my studies and wanted to make up for this experience. So much in advance: I had a great, exciting, and profitable time.

It all started in the summer before my exchange. I asked the head of the professorship at a conference during the coffee break whether a research stay with him would be possible. After a short e-mail contact, the period was quickly found, and the preparations could begin. I was struck by the uncomplicated communication from the very beginning. Even though an exchange of a doctoral student seems to be unusual so far, all organizational matters and questions were quickly clarified by Ms. Ronsdorf. I did not need a visa for Switzerland. The required work permit was sent to me in advance by those responsible at the FHNW, so the preparations went smoothly. I independently looked for a WG room via wgzimmer.ch. This also went very quickly, whereby I was lucky that a room was offered for interim rent exactly during the time of my stay.

Already a few weeks before my stay I was contacted by the Erasmus Student Network (ESN). The ESN organizes various events for all incoming students and the "Buddy Program" Every exchange student is assigned a buddy. So, there is the possibility to be picked up from the train station by your buddy on the day of your arrival.

Arrival

I took the train to Basel the night before my first day. The train connections from Germany to Basel are very good, so the journey went smoothly. I did not take advantage of the possibility to be picked up at the station by my buddy. In advance, however, you should inform yourself about the roaming charges. Since Switzerland is not part of the EU, high telephone costs can arise. Therefore, I bought a Swiss SIM card at Aldi-Talk in the first days (25CHF per month, 5GB data volume and free calls to Germany and in Switzerland). Immediately after arrival, I got myself some cash at an ATM. However, it is also possible to pay in euros in many stores in Basel.

Accommodation & food

I lived in a 4-person flat-share together with a Swiss and two Germans in the Gundeli. I got to know the Gundeli as a very "young" district. There are many cafés and possibilities to go out to eat. If you are near the train station or in the Gundeli, eat a pizza at VITO!

Living together in the shared apartment worked out without any problems. From the accommodation, I needed about 30 minutes by public transport to the FHNW in Muttenz. The first big "shock" certainly comes with the first purchase. Compared to Germany, food prices in Switzerland are significantly higher. But I also got used to that (frighteningly) quite quickly. Besides the two big shopping chains Migros and Coop (both a bit more expensive), there are also cheaper options like ALDI and Denner. If you pay a little attention, you can also shop quite cheaply in Switzerland. But I still recommend trying through the huge selection of cheese and not to save here.

The university

From the outside, the FHNW building in Muttenz is certainly not one of the most beautiful buildings in Basel. But the atrium is all the more impressive for that (see pictures). The equipment is very modern, and everything is new. There are numerous seating options and group workstations on each floor. Particularly noteworthy is the 12th floor with a great view over the Basel countryside. The Muttenz campus has a library, canteen and bistro, a Coop and sports facilities. So, everything you need for a long day at the university is there. I didn't attend any courses myself as a doctoral student, but I did sit in on a lot of my colleagues' classes. The highlight was certainly the winter sports week in Fiesch. There I was able to take a look at the subject of didactic training in the master's degree program in physical education. In addition, I gained various insights into the practical training.

Country, people & leisure

Despite its proximity to Germany, one should not underestimate the Swiss culture in Basel. Swiss German may still be relatively easy to understand in Basel, but even here you immediately notice that you are no longer in Germany. At the beginning of my stay, a colleague recommended that I watch the comedy show "Reiz der Schweiz" by Kaya Yanar (also available on Netflix). The peculiarities of the Swiss are presented there in an amusing way and it was exciting to observe this in everyday life.

The Swiss are generally very friendly and accommodating. The waste separation caused some confusion for me at the beginning. After two months, however, the separation between paper and cardboard now makes sense to me. Basel is a very livable city. Although I was there in winter (end of January-March), I could already sit in the sunshine at the Rhine. In addition, there are many sights in the old town of Großbasel (the city hall, the Basel Cathedral and the many small alleys). In addition, the Basel Zoo is supposed to be very beautiful (unfortunately, I did not manage to go there). The Swiss love coffee, which you can drink very well with a piece of cake in one of the many cafes in the city center. In Switzerland, you should also eat cheese fondue and raclette. There are numerous restaurants for this. It should be noted, however, that cheese fondue is served in many restaurants only until mid-March.

Switzerland is very easy to travel by train. For a longer stay, you should definitely buy the Half-Fare Card. The Half-Fare Card is a half-price subscription that is valid on almost all public transport. From Basel you can quickly reach Zurich, Bern or Lucerne by train. I can recommend all cities for a day trip. It takes a little longer to get to the mountains. But for a weekend, a visit to the Valais is worthwhile. Switzerland is a very sports-minded country and offers many possibilities, especially in winter. For students, the university sports program is also worthwhile.

At the FHNW, many events are organized through the ESN (ski weekend, fondue evening, day trips...). At the beginning of the semester, a WhatsApp group is organized, where you get all the info.

Personal conclusion

I had an eventful and very nice time in Switzerland. Only the time of two months was a bit short. Switzerland has an incredibly beautiful landscape and has a lot to offer culturally and culinary. The language differences should not be underestimated. One should not believe that Swiss German is simply a dialect of German. At the latest when you talk to someone from the canton of St. Gallen, this illusion is shattered.

I learned to appreciate the mentality of the Swiss very much and felt very comfortable. The Swiss colleagues were all very open-minded and made me feel very welcome from day one. From a professional point of view, I was able to take away a lot for my doctorate as well as broaden my horizons in the field of teaching. I gained a lot of exciting insights and I am very grateful for the many opportunities I had during my stay. I wish the next exchange students and Ph.D. students a lot of fun and a great time in Switzerland.

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