Parties, studying and sleep: only two are possible

Meanwhile in Switzerland student society is very diverse and multinational. Rich parents’ children, smart parents’ children and just someone’s children arrive here to study and even sometimes to absorb local culture and traditions. Many desirous current or future managers come here to obtain MBA degree, hoping that this will rise their salaries up to the sky.

How does it feel, to study here? What is the difference with Russian student life, is it worse or better? I need to admit that it’s a very wide space for hot discussions, almost on the level of serious political arguments.

ETH Zurich
ETH Zürich Hauptgebäude

First of all, due to the neighboring situation of the two universities: ETH Zürich and University of Zürich, you can easily observe sheer difference between everything connected with students, education and style. ETH students joke, that Uni [University of Zürich] students never really study and just pretend being busy. Instead, they attend multiple parties and become tired even after one lecture (that’s why there are so many of them at the entrance, sitting, smoking and chatting all the time). [This information was added only as a little dive into ETH atmosphere and I am not sure that is somehow connected with what goes below.]

One of my friend once told me, that at ETH you should choose, which things are the most important for you. You can choose between parties, studying and sleep and you can choose only two out of three. Choose wisely, he said.

Generally speaking, student life here can be incredibly diverse and exciting, the only question is where to get time for all those breathtaking activities. On average ETH students (undergraduates definitely and graduates even more definitely) spend a lot of time studying. But life doesn’t consist only of the lab projects and lectures. A lot of different clubs, meetings according to your interests and omnipresent student associations. To my surprise, local student associations are trying to take care of average student’s concerns: for example, letting students enter seminar rooms during non-studying time (many of them are closed). Without doubt, it may sound strange to MSU people, but local initiatives correspond to local demands, so there is nothing to be surprised (for instance, usually you can enter university buildings without any key or identity proof). I can’t say on behalf of Uni, but many initiatives in ETH have their goals to make a student leave his laptop/lab/library and get at least some entertainment in section of photography/design/environment protection/entrepreneurs/anything else according to his taste.

ETH Zürich Polyterrasse during winter: ice skating
ETH Zürich Polyterrasse during winter: ice skating

By the way, relation towards sport shall be discussed separately. Mandatory sport activities in MSU are still bringing nightmares to me, especially norms that we had to achieve in order to get a pass. And how did it actually look like? A lot of people managed to skip sport classes, meaning that many of them stayed in a deplorable body condition far away from the Baywatch. Here you pay a small regular fee to the sport organization and obtain an unlimited access to all sport infrastructure: gyms, a lot of diverse special sections (from yoga and dancing to rowing and boxing). For some additional fee you can be trained in a “high society” sport kinds: horse riding and golf. Everyone from students to professors are practicing some kind of sport.

It is very joyful to be a student here. Without doubt, Moscow experience was also thrilling, but this time in addition to the excitement you get novelty and necessity to speak English or German even when you are drunk. It trains the brain quite a lot! Parties are liked here and are made at a high level. For instance, famous Polyball with several thousands visitors and fully decorated main building of ETH. There is non-stoping sequence of big and small parties at student houses, student bars and just in the campus. It’s unclear who among ETH students attends them regularly – almost all departments require a diligent and hard work.

Student life tightens you in the abyss of lectures, projects, parties, pre-parties and evening meetings with friends at the Zürich lake side. Zürich is not the most friendly city for a student’s pocket,  but once you inhaled the air of joy and freedom, you won’t be able to stop.

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