Generally my arrival and several first weeks in Switzerland were very overwhelming. On the one hand I was not scared at all of moving to a foreign country on my own, but on the other hand I was astonished by so many things around me since my first day at ETH (and it was the next day after my arrival). Student life at ETH stroke me as a completely different experience than Moscow university.
So, in ETH:
- Students, professors and teaching assistants are interacting as people of the same level: there is no feeling that someone is “smarter” or “better”. Only later I learnt from my mentoring professor, how important it was for him to learn from his students, because young people always mean fresh ideas.
- Alcohol is allowed on the campus. Moreover, there is a bar right next to the main university building, and it is very popular among students. From the bar terrace you can see a stunning view of Zurich!
- Most university buildings have free access. Anyone from the street can come inside (not many people do that, because they simply do not need it). In the evenings the buildings are closed, but students still can access them with special cards.
- There are special mandatory lectures for fresh students about behaviour, equality and harassment. On the campus there are posters everywhere, stressing importance of treating people correctly. And, of course, there are special arrangements for disabled people (blind, wheelchair, etc).
- Generally not that many students skip classes. And I never encountered any exam cheating! According to university rules, cheating can lead to such harsh consequences as expulsion.
- Almost all courses are project-based, and it is simply great. Already in first semester I learnt as much as I learnt in my two previous university years in Moscow. Projects set a very strong focus on practice, creativity and self-development.
- There is almost no possibility to pass an exam if you just learn material by heart. Exam questions require profound understanding of the material and of the possible ways of use in real life.
- Sport activities and the student sport association are very sought-after. In Moscow we had obligatory sport classes for 3 out of 5 university years. Not that many people enjoyed that! At ETH students, professors, employees do so many various sports that it is simply incredible: you can have a look at the list here.
It took me about two-three months to get used to all these advanced novelties. And after that I started truly enjoying my studies.
The featured image is taken from the Science magazine. Referenced as ETH-Bibliothek/Wikimedia.