Auf Wiedersehen, au revoir, arrivederci, buna notg! It was very hard saying good bye to Switzerland – and not just because of the language barrier! I had the most amazing experience abroad and am so thankful for the opportunity and especially the funding from the Pitt Honors College, which helped make this experience possible. Though this was a brief program, it was a packed schedule from day 1. We started our journey in Zurich, then traveled to Basel, Berne, and Geneva, with day trips to Interlaken and Montreux.
In Zurich, we met with the company, mobile Health AG to learn about their new digital health app and then visited the University of Applied Sciences in Winterthurn where we heard about the nursing program. We got to explore the city in our free time, try rösti and other Swiss foods, and climb to the top of Grossmünster Cathedral.
In Basel, we visited the Institute of Nursing Science at the University of Basel, heard from researchers about their projects using implementation science, and learned about health insurance in Switzerland. At the BZG Billdungszentrum Desundheit Basel-Stadt, we heard from nursing students about the diploma program and saw their training facilities. Next, we toured the Novartis campus and learned about their role in global pharmaceuticals. We also visited the University Psychiatric Clinics of Basel and Janus, a heroin treatment center. On our guided walking tour of Basel’s old town, we saw Basel Münster, Middle Bridge (dating back to 1227), old city watch towers, and Johann Wanner Christmas House, among other sites.
In Berne, we toured sitem Center for Translational Medicine and Biomedical Entrepreneurship where we learned more about the Swiss health care system and about the innovative and collaborative medical science research being done at this center (pictured below). We also visited the Department of Health at the Berne University of Applied Sciences to learn about their nursing program and study abroad programs. Here we also had a guided walking tour where we saw the Rosengarten overlooking the city, Einstein’s old apartment in town, the Zeitglockenturm (clocktower) that dates back to the 13th century, and the “Chindlifresserbrunnen,” a fountain in town with a fairytale ogre eating children that dates back to the 16th century. From Berne, we traveled to Interlaken over the weekend and saw spectacular views of the Alps from Harder Kulm. We also paddle boarded in Lake Thun and took a boat to Iseltwald, where we sat with our feet in the water of Lake Brienz for lunch.
In Geneva, we visited the International Council of Nurses, video chatted with a representative from the World Health Organization, and toured the Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum. During our free time, we paddle boated in Lake Geneva, swam with locals, and saw the Jet d’Eau up close. We also climbed to the top of Saint Pierre Cathedral, which had beautiful views of the city (pictured below). From Geneva, we took an afternoon in Montreux on our way back to Zurich. In Montreux, we ate by Lake Geneva and walked along the many street vendors in town.
I’m really thankful I got to take part in this study abroad program. I learned so much about nursing in Europe and really broadened my perspective on health care in other countries. It is so much more meaningful to learn about another health care system firsthand when you can be immersed in the culture. This trip changed my outlook on nursing and even international relations. It was so unique to see how interconnected Switzerland, France, and Germany are because we don’t have as close of connections in the U.S. European countries really rely on one another and look to one another more so than I’m used to here in the states. I’m so grateful for the other students on the trip; everyone was so supportive and inclusive, which made the trip a lot of fun! I want to thank Pitt Honors and the Nationality Rooms Scholarship program for funding this trip; it wouldn’t have been possible without the support! I was originally really nervous to apply for this program because I didn’t know anyone doing it, and I have never traveled abroad without my family. However, I am so glad I decided to apply.
I hope to either work or study abroad after graduation or at some point in my life, so this program was an amazing foundation to build off of. I’m excited to see where a career nursing can take me! Thank you for following my blog posts, and good bye for now Pitt Honors Blog!