Study Abroad Stories: Michelle in Bern, Switzerland

A World in Reach contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I may receive a commission at no cost to you! Read my full disclosure here.

Wondering what it would be like to study abroad in Bern, Switzerland? Keep reading as Michelle from The Munching Traveller shares her study abroad story!

Hello! I’m Michelle, an avid Singaporean traveler who has traveled to 28 countries, 55 cities, and counting! I was a former educator and left my job in 2017 to pursue writing. Since then, I have been documenting my food and travel adventures on

Why Study Abroad?

Back in University, I pursued Sociology in the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Having the opportunity to travel to far-flung places like Spain and Switzerland with my schools way before my university days have somehow sparked some serious wanderlust.

Since then, I have always knew that I wanted to go for an exchange program when in University, but the financial aspects (not a Crazy Rich Asian!) of it deterred me and I initially thought that I would never be able to fulfill this dream. Thankfully, after receiving a teaching scholarship in my second year of studies, I was much closer to this dream.

Like most young and naïve undergraduates, I wanted to go for an overseas exchange because that gave me the freedom to be away from home, be on my own, and allowed me to be able to use my host country as a base to explore the surrounding regions. Then, I was also mending a broken heart having just ended a long-term relationship and really wanted to take a breather and escape the small city of Singapore. With some savings, the scholarship allowances plus the troubles that I was going through then, I decided to head overseas on a whim!

The problem? I didn’t know where I wanted to go. It also didn’t help that I only had a few days to apply since I have only decided to go for an exchange just a few days before the application deadline. Only a little inkling that I really wanted to head somewhere far, I applied for the exchange program to the University of Bern in Switzerland for a semester. Remembering my fond memories in Switzerland where I saw the scenery of the mountains wherever I was, I was enticed by the less hectic pace of life. Most exchange program in European and Nordic cities are extremely competitive so I was extremely thankful to receive the place!

The river in Bern Switzerland with the mountians in the background
Photo by Michelle of The Munching Traveller

Where and What I Studied

The language of instruction at the University of Bern is German. Since I applied for the exchange on a whim, I didn’t have any time to pick up the language. Thankfully, the University of Bern had quite an established Department of English where I took fun courses like Creative Writing, Speech and Drama, and Teaching English as a Second Language. I also applied for a Sociology module, taught in English, on the origins of man where I learnt to question my assumptions and beliefs. I thoroughly enjoyed that course and was so thankful that I decided to go for it. Finally, I took a Consumer Behavior Business module that was also taught in English.

A street in Bern, Switzerland
Photo by Michelle of The Munching Traveller

Study Abroad Advice and Tips

Many have the conception that overseas exchange programs are expensive but they really are not if you budget and plan your finances carefully. Even though Switzerland was (and still is) an expensive country to live in, I managed to get affordable student housing that costs 550 CHF per month. I don’t eat out often and cook all my meals. This meant some sacrifices such as having to either pack lunch to school or sometimes during long breaks, I would travel back to my accommodation just to whip up a meal before rushing back to class. This saved me a whole lot of money!

With those savings, I had the chance to visit neighboring cities in Switzerland and nearby countries. Most of the time, I traveled with new friends made when I was studying abroad.

My Best Study Abroad Memory

The most memorable experiences I had while on exchange were the friendships forged, some of which that I still hold dear till now! We shared the struggles face being away from home, cooked for one another and celebrated birthdays with one another.

Sledding with friends while studying abroad in Bern
Photo by Michelle of The Munching Traveller

What I Learned from My Experience

One important thing that I’ve learnt when studying abroad is to speak up during classes. Living in an Asian conservative country, students have been instilled and socialized to listen to instructions and teachings. Even though university in Singapore does try to help students to break free from this idea, the 12 years of education prior to university have kind of created that habit to keep to oneself. As such, questions are not asked and shared in class, but quietly to our lecturers after the lesson. The experience in the University of Bern and how willing the students were able to share their thoughts and questions really helped me to open up during lectures and better absorb the information taught. Especially for my major, a lot of thinking, questioning, and discussing is required.

Besides that, I guess a lot of the important life lessons learnt when abroad are really those that are outside the confines of the classroom. As housing is extremely expensive in Singapore, most students do not move out of their parents’ home until they have started working and have gotten married. Studying abroad for me helped me to gain independence, as I had to look after all my needs on my own.

Also, interacting with the international exchange students helped me to gain a greater sense of appreciation towards cultural heterogeneity. As students away from home, we spend a lot of time together and these people are like our families. We also had to learn how to navigate through problems that may come our way and how different people worked differently to solve these issues.

Finally, in today’s interconnected world, where jobs are no longer confined to a certain location, and where there is a need to work with people from all around the world, having an education abroad (no matter how short) is always a good experience that you can place into your resume. The relationships gained could also be useful in your future occupations should you need contacts in a particular country.

Should You Study Abroad?

A student who is considering a study abroad experience should definitely go for it! Although my experience as an exchange student may be quite different from those who had their university education abroad because it is much shorter, I feel that no matter what the duration is, a stint abroad is better than no time abroad! You’ll gain a whole new perspective of the world and forge valuable friendships from people all around the world. So, go for it!

About the Author: Michelle is based in Singapore, and she started The Munching Traveller to document her love for travelling, trying delicious food, and writing. A former General Paper teacher, she now does freelance writing for a variety of websites and organisations. Follow her on her travel adventures @TheMunchingTraveller.

Click here for more Study Abroad Stories!

Want to share your study abroad story? Send me a message here and I’ll get back with you shortly!

Study Abroad Stories: Michelle in Bern
Photo by Michelle of The Munching Traveller