The largest city in Switzerland, Zurich houses a rich history, beautiful natural surroundings, and a vibrant culture. Zurich is the perfect combination of tradition and innovation, as it houses some of the most amazing museums and theaters in Europe as well as one of the largest financial and development centers in the world.
Zurich was recently named the city with the "best quality of life" worldwide and millions of people flock every year to experience all that this city has to offer. From eating out-of-this-world fondue and pastries to hiking the Swiss Alps and attending orchestra performances, Zurich has a countless amount of things to see and do.
Zurich is known for its beautiful natural surroundings and stunning architecture. Some of the most popular attractions and activities include the Grossmünster cathedral, shopping on the Bahnhofstrasse, perusing the Altstadt (old city), and lounging around the Zurichsee.
Zurich is also home to many famous museums, such as the Museum of Art, the Swiss National Toy Museum, Zurich Toy Museum, and the Beyer Museum of Time. Many local museums and concert halls/opera houses offer discounts for students, so be sure to ask before purchasing a ticket.
Zurich also has many quaint cafes and parks where students often gather to study and socialize, especially in the Altstadt.
Planning Your Trip
Unfortunately for students, Zurich is frequently ranked as the most expensive city in the world to live in. Its housing market is very tight and has very few rental properties available in the city. If you are looking to rent an apartment instead of living in a dorm/homestay, research rental units in the areas of Schlieren, Diektikon, or Winterthur.
Some great ways to save money while living in Zurich are: utilize public transportation, shop at local markets instead of eating in restaurants and cafes, and avoid the “touristy” areas.
Students can also apply for study abroad scholarships, such as ISEP’s scholarship to the University of Zurich. The currency in Zurich is the used is the Swiss Franc (abbreviated Sfr or Chf), and the current exchange rate may be found here.
Culture Shock and Support
One of the most important factors when choosing a study abroad program is the support that each offers. There are many obstacles to overcome when studying abroad (ie: culture shock, obtaining a visa, budgeting your expenses, choosing classes, etc) so students should be sure to select a program that offers guidance and support.
While culture shock hits everyone differently, there are many parts of the Swiss culture that will surely throw off most students. Even though the Swiss are quite friendly and laid-back, they also have very strict social rules, such as being punctual and not asking for chocolate fondue (a New York creation...the Swiss only eat cheese!).
Zurich is famous for its clean, efficient, and safe public transportation system, which covers the entirety of Zurich and multiple bordering municipalities. Its transportation network includes: trams, buses, trains, cable cars, and even boats, so there is no excuse for students to only explore inside the city.
A great way to get outside of the city is to take the 45 minute train ride to see Rhine Falls, which is the largest waterfall in Europe. One of the best views of the city is from Üetliberg, a hill overlooking Zurich with a perfect 360 degree view. Students can hike up or take the train from the main train station.
Zurich is also known for its large amount of bars and clubs, so students will never be bored. Over the past 20 years, almost all of the large Swiss breweries have been sold to foreign owners, and as a counter-movement, many tiny regional breweries have opened. Be sure to check out these great local watering holes!
Switzerland is so much more than just the home of watches and army knives, and as the largest city in the country, Zurich has the most to offer. You would be crazy to pass up Zurich’s internationally-renowned cuisine, breathtaking scenery, and amazing schools. Study in Zurich today!
Contributed by Rebecca Murphy
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