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How Angela Meraviglia is living her studies in Switzerland
Swiss Abroad Angela Meraviglia on the opportunities and challenges of studying in Switzerland.
Angela Meraviglia you are Swiss and grew up in Australia. Why did you decide to study in Switzerland?
In Australia, I completed my training as a florist but I always knew I wanted to study. I just never found the right subject. During a holiday stay in Switzerland, I discovered the study programme in Design Management at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts. Initally, it was just an exciting idea that I had and not a firm plan. However, I applied. Thanks to my application dossier including my work, my high school diploma and my professional experience, I was accepted. Only when I received the official confirmation did I realise that my life would change completely within a few months.
Tell us more specifically about your Design Management degree programme at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts.
The degree programme is entirely in English. I am now in my third and final Bachelor’s year. I particularly love the breadth of the field of study. It is not just about creating physical things or designing them, but it is always about the whole mind-set. That helps to understand complex problems, to communicate with people and to create solutions that are better for people and our environment.
What language do you speak when you are not in class? And how have you settled in in Switzerland?
I speak a mixture of English and Swiss German with my university friends and Swiss German, which I learned at home, with my relatives. Now I also want to attend a German course at university. Building up a good group of friends in Switzerland was more difficult than I thought. However, a small job in the hospitality industry helped me to get to know the local way of life and to make new friends.
Was the “small job” alongside your studies enough to cover the high Swiss cost of living?
I have always worked alongside my studies, in hospitality and now at a design agency in Zurich. However, the intensive studies do not allow me to work enough to be financially independent. I have been fortunate to receive a scholarship from my home canton of Zurich, which makes my life a lot easier. I also benefit from a reduced health insurance premium. Switzerland is expensive, but it also has quite a fair social support system.
How is the Covid-19 pandemic affecting your studies?
I studied online for most of last year and it will probably stay that way for my last semester. Studying online works relatively well, but it has significantly changed my university experience. There are both advantages and disadvantages. For example, I can follow lectures from up in the mountains and save travel time. However, a lot of social interaction gets lost. Furthermore, a full day of lectures in front of a laptop feels twice as long as one in a classroom. Physical teaching and learning cannot be translated one-to-one into online learning. I believe it is even more important to actively engage students in the online format so that concentration remains constant.
What are your plans for the future?
At this stage I am not planning too far into the future, because the world is so uncertain at the moment. In the next few months I will focus on my Bachelor thesis and afterwards look for a job in the design field here in Switzerland.
What tips would you give to young Swiss people abroad who want to study in Switzerland?
I encourage them all to inform themselves about financial support. And to live in a shared apartment, as this is not only a more affordable way of living but also a great way to get more in touch with Swiss culture. If your studies allow it, you should also look for a part-time job. I also advise spending as much free time as possible exploring this incredibly diverse country. Stay curious, be humble, be open to new experiences and ideas, actively pursue your goal and give yourself time to integrate and ask for support when you need it.
Educationsuisse offers young Swiss Abroad specific counselling around the theme of “education in Switzerland”.