Stojanovic Vladimir is from Serbia and is currently studying for an LLM in Compliance Law at the University of Fribourg.
1. What made you decide to study in Switzerland?
I was tired of doing an office job, so I decided to become a professor and complete a PhD in Compliance Law. Compliance Law is a relatively new area of Law, and the University of Fribourg is the only university in the world that offers a Compliance Law program.
2. How did you find the application process?
The application for the Visa was fairly straightforward. There was of course a lot of paperwork, but I knew in advance that that would be the case, so I was prepared for it. It took a month and a half for my Visa to arrive after applying for it.
Something that you should watch out for, though: cantons have their own set of rules for residence permits. I applied to canton Zurich for my residence as I wanted to live there and travel on a daily basis to Fribourg, but I wasn’t able to do this: you have to live where you want to study. It wasn’t a huge set-back, however, because In Fribourg there are plenty of dorms to choose from.
3. How does it compare to studying back home?
Studying here is far more interactive than back home. Also, because the other students on my course also already hold a Law degree, we can share our knowledge and experiences with each other.
4. How did you go about finding accommodation?
There are plenty of dorms to choose from - prices range from CHF 400 to 700.
5. What are the main highlights for you so far?
The thing I’ve enjoyed the most is how relaxed everyone is - there is very little stress, and everybody has a helpful attitude.
On weekends, it’s great to be able to go hiking and skiing, and ice hockey is also very popular here. In the south-west it’s particularly beautiful - the Alps are really close and can be seen from the city.
In terms of local food, I’d definitely recommend raclette and fondue!
6. Is there any aspect of studying in Switzerland that you've found particularly difficult?
The price of things can make life difficult - life here is extremely expensive. If you like coffee, be prepared to pay through the roof.
Also, it can be difficult to find work as an international student - many employers would rather take on an inexperienced Swiss applicant than an experienced foreign student.
7. Switzerland is known for its high cost of living. How much money - roughly - would you advise to budget for weekly or monthly?
If you need to apply for a Visa, you have to provide a bank statement as evidence that you have 21.000e in your account. You don’t need to take this much with you to Switzerland, however; you just have to prove that it’s in your account.
The Fribourg local authority recommends that students budget for around CHF 1400 per month, depending on your lifestyle.
8. Is there anything available that can help students financially?
The student organisation, ESN, offers cheap train tickets if you are a member, which enable you to go to Geneva and back for CHF 15-20 and spend a day at the Red Cross Museum. Also, I’d recommend buying yearly or monthly transportation as this can save you a small fortune. Finally, there are student jobs available, but many will expect you to have a strong command of French or German.
9. Has it been easy enough to make friends?
It’s incredibly easy to make friends here, because many international students are in the same situation. Swiss people can be a little reserved, but once you’ve made friends with them they’ll frequently invite you out for BBQs, ski weekends and picnics by the lake - they’ll even offer you a ride.
10. What are the best bars / things to do in Fribourg?
Café Belvedere is one of the most popular places to visit here in Fribourg, and the prices are fairly reasonable. There are also plenty of lavish restaurants, which don’t close until around 11pm or 12pm. Fribourg is a small city (40,000 people, a quarter of whom are students), but there are plenty of bigger cities nearby you can visit, such as Lausanne, Geneva, Bern and Neuchâtel.
Anne-Michèle Savoy completed a bachelor's degree in Architecture at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne. She then completed a year's internship in Manchester, before returning to EPFL to complete her master's degree.
1. Why did you choose to study in Switzerland?
Switzerland has a fantastic quality of life, with effective public infrastructures/transport systems, a strong cultural heritage and a great choice of outdoor activities, such as hiking and skiing, all within a stunning natural landscape. The education offered at EPFL is also of a very high quality.
2. What advice would you give about the application process?
Each university has its own process, so be careful about individual deadlines and application requirements, which may differ from one university to another.
3. What advice would you give to students to find suitable accommodation?
Some universities offer their own accommodation, which makes the process a lot easier for international students, but the waiting lists for these are usually quite long!
As soon as you are registered at your university, you may be given access to classified adverts. Also, keep an eye on Facebook groups and Facebook marketplace.
4. Can you give any tips on keeping costs low?
It's definitely worth getting a half-fare travel card if you want to see the country. Also, the 'Track 7' deal offers free transport from 7pm to the last train of the day.
Avoid eating in university canteens - it's often much cheaper to cook for yourself. Try to fish out the cheaper grocery stores, as there can be a large difference in cost (in Lausanne, for example, Denner is cheaper to shop at than Migros).
Finding a roommate is often a very effective way to reduce accommodation costs significantly.
5. What's the best way to enjoy free time?
Many people here enjoy going to the local lake (Lake Geneva in my case), where you can sunbathe or get involved with water sports. You can also visit local vineyards and taste the local wines.
There are plenty of local music festivals, especially during summer.
6. Can you give any tips on social etiquette?
Swiss people are known for their discretion. Although it may come across as shyness, it's simply that they respect each other's privacy.
7. What's the best way to go about making friends?
Get involved with a local sports club or music band, or take part in the student events run at your university.
8. What are the best places to visit in Lausanne?
For atmosphere, I'd definitely recommend 'Le Bourg', which is an old cinema that's been converted into a bar/concert hall.
For having a drink, 'The Great Escape' is a bar with a nice terrace where you can make the most of the weather in summer.
For clubbing, 'Jagger's Club' is a small club with reasonable prices and good music.