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A Swiss Abroad talks about studying medicine in Switzerland

10.07.2019 – Ruth von Gunten

educationsuisse advises young Swiss Abroad who come to Switzerland to study. Katia Steinfeld is one of them. She recounts her experience of studying at the University of Lausanne.

“I have Swiss and Brazilian roots, and I grew up in Rio de Janeiro. I began my medical studies there. I contacted educationsuisse because I was looking for a way to continue my studies outside Brazil. The organisation supplied me with information about studying medicine in Switzerland and assisted me with my grant application in my canton of origin. The University of Lausanne (UNIL) partially recognised my study time in Brazil, which meant I could continue my studies in Switzerland in 2016.

The first six months in Switzerland were difficult. I first had to get used to the lifestyle, climate and being alone. I was also worried about the requirements of the university and my financial resources.

However, the quality of the teaching and the feeling of freedom motivated me anew every day. I enjoyed exploring the culture and country that is also mine, and building new relationships and strong friendships, which gave me the support that I needed.

I also threw myself into extracurricular activities that were important to me. For example, I took part in a competition advertised by the UNIL and the Clinton Foundation in 2017. I was selected to represent the University at the Clinton Global Initiative University in Boston (USA). Thanks to this competition, I was able to get my project Escolhares off the ground. It has now grown into an association that has organised opthalmological screenings and supplied more than 2,000 students in deprived districts of Rio de Janeiro with spectacles between 2016 and 2019.

Recently, I took part in the UNIL World’s Challenge Challenge competition. My team’s project, EcoBlock in Burkina Faso, won the first internal selection phase.

On an academic level, I am continuously astounded by the wide variety of courses and internships on offer at UNIL. I had the opportunity to discover the world of research, primarily during my Master’s degree in the field of fundamental neuroscience. These experiences changed my future plans and led me to where I am today: planning a PhD.

To sum up, I can honestly say that my move to Switzerland contributed significantly to my personal development. I have rediscovered my roots and now understand a part of my identity better as a result. I have also gained in confidence. I have become more independent, been able to establish relationships and develop new prospects for the future – all the while completing first-class medical training. Therefore, I would like to encourage other young Swiss Abroad to take up such opportunities.”

Experience reports from young Swiss Abroad are regularly published on the Facebook page of educationsuisse, and on

Katia Steinfeld. Photo provided

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