Budgeting in Switzerland, is that even possible? It is true Switzerland has been ranked one of the most expensive places to live in Europe, and with the plummeting pound you would think being a student in Switzerland would resemble something from the Hunger Games. But do not despair, I have a few handy tips and tricks that will ensure you make the most out of this beautiful country without breaking the bank.
A top priority amongst students is always food, after rent it’s a big part of your budget, and luckily, it’s where real savings can be made. There are really two options for your weekly shop. Option one, you can join the mass exodus across the border in search of the nearest Carrefour, but with a round trip of nearly 2 hours from the main student cities of Zurich and Geneva this can seem excessive; and quite frankly, just far too much hassle. The second option is to scout out your nearest Lidl. You will quickly learn that Lidl is your saving grace with your weekly shop coming in at around £30 in comparison to upwards of £60 in even the lower-end Swiss stores such as Migros, it is surely a short bus ride worth taking.
Next there is the question of how to participate in that familiar student pastime of drinking on a budget. Most student towns will have a student friendly area, for Geneva it is Rue de l’Ecole de Médecine, where you can grab a casual drink with your friends after your lectures. But after a while you’ll be in search of something new, so you have to get creative. First step is to join all local event groups on Facebook; in Geneva, pop up nights are a familiar sight with cheap drinks and great music – they always make for an exciting and alternative night out. Next get involved with your local ESN group, often they will put on nights for exchange students, usually securing preferential rates in bars. Not only are these great cheap nights out but it also gives you the opportunity to keep up your other languages.
Travelling is a huge part of your year abroad and it is important you make the most of your new home, but in Switzerland this can come at a cost. While trains routes in Switzerland are considered to be some of the most picturesque in Europe they are also notoriously expensive, however you can get around this with a single country Interrail pass if you are planning a longer trip. Car rental is also a viable option if travelling in a group and gives you the freedom to reach those far-flung fairy-tale-like places plastered across your Facebook feed. And if all else fails remember, Geneva is one of the commuting hubs of the world, and for less than £60 return, Easyjet puts lots of European destinations within your reach.
Of course Switzerland is never going to be the cheapest year abroad option, but with some budgeting a year abroad can easily be made affordable. While my views may be tinged with a hint of bias, I still feel more than confident in declaring that this will definitely be the best year of your life!