Monday, January 23, 2017

SLU PT Study Abroad Opportunity - Switzerland

SLU PT Student Enjoys International Hub in Geneva
By: Ryan Tekolste (DPT Class of 2020)

I chose to study abroad in Geneva, Switzerland due to its proximity to the Alps, its central location in Europe, and also the ability to take psychology courses for my minor. I have a passion for outdoor sports, so being able to spend one third of my weekends in the mountains was ideal. Geneva is a transportation hub in Europe, which made it easy to travel most everywhere else in the contintent. I discovered quickly that Geneva was not, however, easy on my wallet.
After hearing about other student’s study abroad experiences for the last two years, I had an idea about what to expect. I was excited to travel, to make new friends, to converse with other cultures and observe different ways of life, to broaden my world view, to grow in my independence, and for the adventure of it all. I was nervous about the language barrier, balancing my studies with travelling, finding a fun group to travel with, and budgeting. All pretty typical emotions for your average study abroad student.

The first week, I was completely overwhelemed with ensuring I made the perfect experience; putting unneccesary pressure on every decision I made to fill the finite amount of time with the right choices to squeeze the most out of the experience. The overwheleming feeling didn’t last for long, and I now understand it was an important part of the growing process. Geneva culture is heavily influenced by French culture, so the people are polished; some would say pretentious, some would say reserved, but quiet nonetheless. Geneva, though, distiguishes itself by way of its large international sector. It seemed everyone in Geneva had a connection to the UN, an embassy, a NGO, or to the international banking industry.
The Alps are awe-inspiring.
Swiss food takes the form of any combination of cheese and potatoes. Pictured below is rösti, which is cheese baked over hash-browns. Heavy, but delicious. Another form is called Raclette, which is melting a slice of cheese and ‘pouring’ it over the potatoes. No, there really isn’t much of a difference between the two.

I was able to get to know the local students while in my classes and playing rec volleyball with them every week. I especially found it intriguing to hear their perspectives on American politics, as I was there during the heat of this election cycle. They made me realize just how much of a world power, for better or for worse, the United States is, both politically and culturally. They were just as engaged in our election as I was.
I would strongly recommend studying abroad; especially considering it is built right into the curriculum of the program. The personal growth that accompanies the experience is irreplaceable. If you plan to spend a bunch of time in the Alps and/or travel a lot, I would recommend Geneva. If not, study somewhere else. Geneva was too expensive to truly experience, but a nice place to live nonetheless.

This is one of several posts featuring SLU PT Student study abroad experiences.  Because of its unique format, the SLU PT program gives students the ability to study abroad the fall of their junior year.  For more information about study abroad experiences at SLU go to:

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