Saying goodbye to Zürich

7 February 2019

Georgiana looks back on the highlights of her year abroad at ETH Zürich, focussing on the people she met, her travels, her studies and discoveries made!

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I cannot believe my year abroad program at ETH Zurich has come to an end. This past year has been a rich experience, one that will probably stay with me forever. If I had to resume in a few words the time I spent in Switzerland it would probably be the following: meeting amazing People with whom I can Travel, Study or Discover the Swiss culture.


When living in a student accommodation with exchange or master students coming from all parts of the world it is easy to become friends with some of the smartest, most interesting and friendly people that come to study at ETH or University of Zurich. I am really happy for having had the chance of living in such a friendly environment that made me feel like home. As we did so many things together - cooking in the student hall, swimming in the river, having barbecue parties, going to salsa classes or on hikes, it really made me feel like I am part of a bigger family. 


Even though my university schedule was very intense - daily courses at university, a lot of coursework for each module, lab sessions or language classes, I tried to find time and discover as many places as possible in Switzerland. Since I had the general travel pass for one year, I preferred to take trains and study on the train, rather than spending the whole time in the library. This way, I managed to write my semester project or to complete the “models of computation” assignments on my way to Geneva, Lugano or far up in the mountains in Mürren.

View over Zürich from the ETH Polyterrasse


ETH is definitely one of the best universities for future engineers (no wonder why it is #7 worldwide). As I did a semester project within a bigger research department, I can state that I learned so much from my supervisor and his team - from doing research, implementing a project or writing a paper at the end of the study. I was surprised by the facilities of the university, nice study locations and the various events that take place at ETH, as Zürich is the technology hub of Switzerland. Moreover, the cutting edge research projects taking place at the university makes it an ideal place to be studying and getting involved in projects contributing to the development of the Swiss society.

ETH Zürich


This last year I had the chance of getting to know the Swiss culture and their democracy, their customs for various celebrations and their friendship. It was so nice to see the spirit of living in a tied community in smaller province towns, where neighbours would help each other and look after the close ones. Moreover, walking on country side roads and being saluted by locals, reminded me of old customs from the Carpathian villages captured in old novels where people would say hello to each other even if they don’t know each other. I was also invited to attend a confirmation in a reformed church for the first time, which was such a nice event, based on core values of family, friendship and community. In April, people of Zürich celebrated Sechseläuten, a traditional spring holiday where a snowman is set on fire to predict the weather for the upcoming summer. In May 2016 I attended the voting day in Glarus, where citizens of that canton can still vote laws by raising their hands in a public square. For Christmas, I saw people lighting up candles and sing carols in the yard of the church, along with the entire village. I want to thank to both UCL and ETH for making this great experience possible. As I am moving back to London for my last year of studies, I can only be happy for having lived this great experience in the very heart of the Swiss society. Bis bald, Schweiz!

By Georgiana Birjovanu