My Name is Pascal D’Andrea and I am studying Mechanical Engineering at the ZHAW School of Engineering in Winterthur. I spent my 4th semester at the Aarhus University in Denmark as an exchange Student. Since I really enjoy meeting new people it was a great opportunity for me to participate in an exchange semester. Nowadays it is important to be able to work and communicate with people from all around the world. Therefore, I decided to apply for a semester abroad not only to have a great time and meet new people but also to enhance my ability to work with international people and improve my English.
My name is Linda Eggenberger, I am from Switzerland and currently studying at the ZHAW School of Engineering for my Bachelor’s degree of science in Aviation. I am a passionate gymnast and love to travel and explore new cultures, especially the northern part of Europe.
My name is Naxhije Rexhepi. I live in Zurich in Switzerland where I am studying Industrial Engineering, with a focus on Economics and Finance. In my free time I like to eat and do sport. When I’m not at the gym, I go with my friends out, whether in the cinema, in a bar or in the theater. I am interested in many things, because I like to learn something new every day.
My name is Stefan, I live in Winterthur, Switzerland and study Computer Science at the ZHAW. I’m no CS student by accident – I like technology a lot and like to play around with gadgets of all sorts. To balance out my mostly urban life I like to hike in our beautiful countryside.
Few weeks ago, in the framework of a second Fulbright Outreach Lecturing Fund (OLF), I had the opportunity to visit the Biomedical Department at the University of Houston UH in Texas. UH is a renown large university (more than 46’000 students) located in the city of Houston few miles away from downtown. The campus is beautiful, really green, with tropical plants and trees (there is almost no winter in Houston!). It was already really warm for spring and I was told that the university football team, the cougars, have to train inside in air-conditioned buildings during summer time 🙂
Hi my name is David, I was born and raised in Switzerland. After finishing my apprenticeship as a designer at Maschinenfabrik Rieter AG I worked one year prior to taking on a new challenge at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences. I’m currently studying mechanical engineering and getting into my 7th semester. As a part time student, I’m working 60% as a designer for Stadlerrail. I like to spend most of my time off campus with outdoor activities such as biking, hiking, snowboarding, wakeboarding, surfing and sometimes in the gym. In the following paragraphs I’d like to tell you about my semester abroad.
These traditional Maori words, simply meaning welcome, greeted us students in Christchurch at the beginning of the semester. But this warm welcome did not just mark the beginning of the studies at the university, it actually encouraged me to explore and discover New Zealand. I’ve always been looking for an opportunity to benefit from a top-quality education in a first-class travel destination and found it in New Zealand. Its stunning and very diverse landscape plus English as the national language seemed to be ideal to further develop my personality and academic knowledge.
Since the University of Canterbury, which is located in Christchurch, maintains a partnership with the School of Management and Law of the Zurich University of Applied Sciences it was easy to find a suitable institution. A brief research about the university and its prestigious College of Engineering convinced me immediately to apply for a study abroad semester. I was considered a free mover and therefore self-responsible for the entire application process. But the very efficient and straight forward communication with the University of Canterbury as well as my early organization clearly facilitated the process. In order to profit as much as possible and to minimize a potential knowledge deficit, I paid high attention to attend courses that had a strong similarity to the ones I missed at my home institution.
I instantly felt comfortable at the university and got into a daily routine really quickly. Attending lectures every day and not being assigned to a class was unusual first but I adapted to it. It just took a bit longer to recognize all the faces and identify the students that attended multiple courses with me. Fortunately, I was able to connect with some local and other study abroad students during the first week. Especially the international welcome day, which was held prior to the semester start, helped me a lot to get social connections. Another great opportunity to connect with people is sport. It does not require that much effort either. Just be open minded and introduce yourself with a smile. During the semester connecting got harder since everybody was following its personal schedule, attendance was not mandatory and you could easily get lost in a lecture theater filled with 150 people.
From a scientific perspective it seems to me that lectures at UC focus more on details to prepare students for their master. At ZHAW on the other hand a more practical approach is chosen and students get well prepared to work with their bachelor’s degree. Some lecturers for example required us students to additionally read in a book and gain a more detailed understanding about the topic. The lectures therefore only taught the basics. Fortnightly quizzes were used as a feedback about the discussed topics and lab reports were always checked on plagiarism. I experienced the lecturer’s way of teaching as very successful and liked their interaction with the students. It is noteworthy to mention that such a semester abroad requires a certain level of English since its main purpose is to improve your academic knowledge rather than your language skills.
Besides science there was plenty of time to pursue personal interests and widen the individual horizon off campus. The tragic history of Christchurch was still very present and clearly observable throughout the entire city. Roadworks and construction sites gave a small hint about the severe damage the earthquake has caused. New buildings opened almost monthly. At the beginning of the semester a brand-new research building, equipped with the latest laboratory technology, was introduced at UC and during the semester new office buildings with bars and restaurants opened in the city center. The city is obviously recovering and coming back to live. Sadly, earthquakes will always remain a part of Christchurch and therefore get addressed in lectures about material science or design.
Within a short drive Christchurch was left behind and the unspoiled nature at one’s feet. Unfortunately, the sighting of a Kiwi, which is New Zealand’s national animal, is very rare and a lot of luck is needed. But because a third of New Zealand’s landscape is protected by national parks there are plenty of opportunities to physically challenge oneself or observe other animals besides the Kiwi. This is why I spent 5 days hiking on one of the great walks in Abel Tasman National Park. I also visited famous spots like Queenstown, the Aoraki or went snowboarding in July and surfing on the 90 Mile Beach. From glaciers to remote and gorgeous beaches, New Zealand is able to please everybody with its beauty. With rugby as their national sport, also sport maniacs will be satisfied and there is a huge reason for that. The Kiwis, to which New Zealand citizens also refer to, are home to some of the world’s best rugby teams. The Canterbury Crusaders for example are domiciled in Christchurch and the famous All Blacks are New Zealand’s national team and reigning world champion.
Reviewing my time at the University of Canterbury I couldn’t have made any better choice. Not only did I got to experience and practice mechanical engineering from a different perspective, yet it reminded me once again how important it is to approach problems from different ways. The University of Canterbury is an outstanding institution equipped with the latest technology. I felt appreciated and welcome with the first touch. Christchurch itself is a lovely and charming city. Its location is ideal to start exploring New Zealand, particularly the south island which is most visitors’ favorite. The Kiwis are very friendly and welcoming people. By arranging about 95% of my accommodations through Airbnb I also experienced their great hospitalization. After the semester I took advantage of New Zealand’s excellent location to discover the south pacific. I travelled to Samoa, the Cook Islands plus Tahiti. In each country I spent roughly two weeks sunbathing under palm trees, on stunning beaches with crystal clear, turquoise water. I personally highly recommend to everyone giving such unique experience at least once a change. It is not just an opportunity to develop one’s individual character and scientific knowledge, but also to challenge and discover oneself. It has been my forth experience abroad that lasted for several months and was again a full success. I’m able to return to Switzerland with a bigger personal backpack, stuffed with new knowledge, fantastic experiences and wonderful moments.
Wir – Somea Desarzens und Zino Grütter – sind Verkehrssysteme-Studenten der ZHAW School of Engineering in Winterthur und haben unser 4. Semester an der FH Technikum in Wien absolviert.
Da Verkehrsstudiengänge auf der Welt (noch) rar gesät sind, war unsere Auswahl an Fachhochschulen, die einen ähnlichen Studiengang wie in Winterthur anbieten, klein. Unsere Partnerhochschulen in St. Pölten und Erfurt kamen bei unserer Wahl zu kurz, da uns beide Städte nicht überzeugten. Schnell fiel unsere Wahl dann auf Wien, wo wir zügig und sehr freundlich angenommen wurden.
In Wien gefiel uns speziell die zum Verweilen einladende Donauinsel als Naherholungsgebiet, das man in anderen vergleichbaren Städten vergeblich sucht. An der Fachhochschule fielen uns als erstes die modernen Gebäude und Räumlichkeiten auf, welche im Vergleich zum Technikum in Winterthur ein paar Jahrzehnte neuer waren. Der grosse Unterschied zwischen den Fachhochschulen war die in Wien geltende Anwesenheitspflicht in allen Fächern, die wir so in Winterthur nicht kennen. Ansonsten waren der Aufbau der Module, die Unterrichtsart und die Prüfungen ziemlich ähnlich wie an der ZHAW.
Am besten in Erinnerung bleiben uns die Leute, die wir in Wien kennengelernt haben, und die Zeit, die wir mit ihnen geniessen konnten. Dies waren sowohl Kommilitonen als auch Austauschstudenten aus anderen Ländern, mit denen wir schulische und ausserschulische Aktivitäten unternommen haben. An der Fachhochschule profitierten wir stark von den engagierten Dozenten, welche auf der einen Seite einiges verlangten, auf der andern jedoch auch viel von ihrer Fachkompetenz vermitteln konnten. Persönlich war es eine tolle Erfahrung, einen eigenen Haushalt zu regeln und Personen aus verschiedensten Kulturen kennenzulernen.
Schlechte Erfahrungen machten wir in Wien keine oder sie waren so geringfügig, dass wir sie bereits vergessen haben. Wir sind deshalb auch froh, dass wir den Schritt gewagt haben, ein Auslandsemester zu absolvieren. Eine solche Erfahrung können wir jedem wärmstens empfehlen.
Happy new year! I hope you had a good relaxing time over Christmas. Semester has started here at UC last week and everything is back to normal… well almost everything!
As you probably know the country is experiencing the longest “shutdown” of its history. To be honest, we have not noticed anything special here in Cincinnati except that this is the major news on television. Apparently, even the FBI is running short on budget and this might affect the national security… Let’s hope that a solution will be found soon and that everything will go back to normal.
Winter has also arrived here with the first “real” snow falls. 20 to 25 cm of fresh snow. This makes the city more beautiful and also way more dangerous because nobody has winter tires here! Incredible!
I was even told you could ski in Ohio (but more north east from Cleveland which is a bit far away – Ohio alone is almost 3 times Switzerland!).
We had to relocate to another area closer to campus. It is called “Clifton Gaslight” and the street lights actually still run on gas! Let’s hope that there will be enough gas and that the new house furnace will not break down: temperature will drop up to -22 °C in the coming nights…
What else? UC officially turned 200 years last week. There was a small ceremony with a huge cake and UC president Pinto gave a small talk about the university history. Was nice but to be honest I was more impressed by the 10 years of ZHAW! 🙂
Research is doing fine (I realized this is the first time I talk about my research here in the US). Two papers were recently accepted (but more related to my activities back in Switzerland) and several others are in the pipeline including joined publications Switzerland – USA.
New: I am also co-supervising a visiting student from China on a very interesting topic, but I cannot tell anything: top secret! My host lab has over 100 patents granted, published, or submitted, and has generated the most invention disclosures (more than 150) and patent licenses in UC’s history! IP is a serious business here.
In my opinion, we should take more care about IP at ZHAW and develop a “transfer office” to help ZHAW researchers commercializing their research findings wherever it is in the form of a startup, license, or partnership.
A more personal note: I can’t believe I already reached the middle of my stay in the US. It went so fast! I wish I could stay more. A very unique experience.
See you next time!
*) Mathias Bonmarin is a senior lecturer at the ZHAW School of Engineering. Recently, he was honoured to get a prestigious Fulbright scholarship and therefore he’s at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio for one year as a visiting Professor.