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Zürich – First Impressions

After a 32-hour transit from Sydney including a missed connection at Heathrow airport, I was looking forward to a little R&R when I first landed in Zurich 3 days ago. So far, I have yet to have slept for longer than 5 consecutive hours each night – partly due to the monstrous jetlag but also because, since I’ve arrived, I haven’t stopped. The experience so far is nearly overwhelming; luckily it’s also a lot of fun.


I am living in Culmannstrasse 26 – a studenthouse famed for its unbeatable rooftop views of Zurich and the Swiss Alps (see feature image for my view as I write this), its convenient location (only a 5 minute walk from UZH), and its solitary [Hell’s] kitchen shared by all 60 student tenants. I preferenced this accommodation because of the raving reviews given to it by former UTS exchange students and I have to say, so far, I’m a believer –  ask me again in a few months after I’m over the novelty of every dinner being feeding time at the zoo. The upshot of Culmannstrasse’s cramped shared spaces is that it’s impossible not to meet everyone who lives here. A diverse mix of local Swiss and European students and Exchange students from all over, it already does feel like one big family.


Since I don’t speak any German, I enrolled in the intensive German language course offered by the University before the start of semester and was lucky enough to get a place – when it opened for registration it booked out faster than an NYE music festival. While everyone can speak English in Zurich and you can get by without speaking Swiss German, it’s nice to get a grasp on the basics, particularly if you plan on travelling into Germany (and you should be, given how near Zurich is to the border). Two days in I’m not exactly fluent, but at the very least it’s been a great way to meet other exchange students.


I’ve barely scratched the surface of Zurich and it’s already clear that it’s a remarkable place. The atmosphere in the streets is pretty incredible, especially along the riverside and in Old Town. I can’t comment properly on the nightlife yet but I hear great things. You’re on the doorstep of the Alps so if you’re into hiking or snow sports there’s no better city in which to spend your exchange, and with Switzerland being in centre of Europe, you’re really not too far from anywhere at all. I’m already lining up a trip to Germany and Norway, with plenty more travel on the cards.

These 6 months will fly, as outgoing exchange students living in Culmannstrasse keep reminding me, but I can’t wait to see all that it has to offer.


Joshua Clarke, 11744289, FASS

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