Joelle Kunz is studying a Bachelor of Business Administration with Bachelor of Laws at Macquarie. Last year she spent an exchange semester at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, after completing a four-week intensive German language course in the lakeside town of Konstanz.
Here she shares the five best things she bought home.
I took courses in Zurich that I would never have chosen at Macquarie. I learned about different aspects of law that will definitely benefit me long-term. Examining a whole different legal system made me realise things about our own that I never would have considered otherwise. As a future practising lawyer, it definitely helped me see the benefits and disadvantages of the Australian legal system and gave me an appreciation for international law that I never knew was possible.
I also completed an internship in a private bank in Zurich. The things I learned during my time there were priceless (but I can’t tell you too much – bank secrecy and all!).
For the first time in my life I was living completely alone. I had to learn to cook properly, get my washing done when my clothing supply ran low, do my weekly grocery shop, time-manage, navigate public transport and more.
All the things I used to rely on others for were now my own responsibility. It was challenging yet strangely satisfying. Going on exchange helps you to grow up and gives you greater appreciation for the people you left behind.
Zurich is an amazing central location. A quick one-hour flight or two-hour train ride allowed me to visit places like Germany, France, Holland, Italy, Austria and Liechtenstein. Being so close to so many different countries was so strange for me as an Australian, and I took complete advantage of it.
I also visited many places within Switzerland and developed a great love for the country filled with mountains, lakes, food delicacies, many official languages and quickly-changing weather.
A heightened appreciation for Australia
Despite enjoying every minute of my exchange, I did begin to miss things about Australia that I never realised I loved – the warm weather, the sunshine, the laid-back people, the great distances between places, the animals, the beach, the music and of course the Macquarie campus.
Attempting to explore every bit of Switzerland also made me realise that I had only explored a tiny part of Australia. It encouraged me to be a tourist in my own backyard when I got back.
Studying abroad allowed me to meet people from all over the world and from all walks of life and I truly appreciate all the friendships I made.
From cycling around Konstanz with Janneke from South Africa and Ashley from Canada, to debating sentence structure with my friends from Egypt and Poland, to my weekly German-class meetings with Frau Haller at the retirement home in Zurich and my Friday-night dinners with Navine from Geneva. I met so many wonderful individuals during my time abroad and they all enriched my experience in one way or another.
Going on exchange was one of the best things I have ever done and I would do it again in a heartbeat. The personal growth that I experienced will benefit me for the rest of my life and the memories I made will always be dear to me. Exchange is an adventure like no other and I encourage every single student take this opportunity and make it their own.
Macquarie students can choose from over 150 partner universities for student exchange in more than 40 countries.