Student Blog: Graduate Student Explores Passions In Switzerland

Rachel Katherine Kennedy's blog

Have you ever returned from an amazing, life-changing experience only to feel like you wanted to relive it? That’s how it felt getting off the plane after my study abroad semester. The five short months I spent in Switzerland felt like a year, and yet it was not long enough. The friends I made, the time spent in a different country, and the opportunity to study in a foreign University, enhanced my graduate studies in more ways than I could ever possibly compose on paper.

I was told the University of Fribourg in Switzerland had the top media and communications department in the country – they were right. With such a distinction, I am proud to say I was able to learn from some of the kindest and most humble professors I’ve ever had. Additionally, the International Relations Office staff were incredibly kind and patient, and as a graduate student, I could discuss my program of study directly with them. I am now considering pursuing a Ph.D. and a career in diplomacy, which I never thought possible prior to attending this university.

During my time in Switzerland, I was able to visit six countries and over 50 different cities. Learning French was highly recommended by the University, and Italian was highly promoted by my Italian friends. When you leave your own country even for a short time, not only do you grow, but you see life through a much broader lens. It was eye-opening for me to discover how deeply Europeans value friendships. I was grateful to experience the level of inclusion and genuine concern fellow students had for one another, and I made many friends as a result of this. I engaged in classes that were largely Socratic in nature, learning about different media landscapes, the myriad of short and long-term effects the media can have and the fundamentals of negotiating in a business environment.

As a future professional working towards a career in the governmental, journalism, and communications spheres, I will forever value the opportunity to study abroad. Living in a foreign country for an extended period of time allowed me to gain a deeper appreciation of cultures different from my own and revel in the history and beauty of European countries. This experience instilled in me the desire to pursue other opportunities overseas and greatly enriched my academics. When I reflect on my time there, I recall running through a medieval town every day to get to class, falling in the snow in front of the snow-capped peak of the Matterhorn, listening to interactive lectures involving business negotiation, shopping in the pouring rain at the Munich Christmas Market, and strolling along the elegant streets in Austria. These memories call me to return.

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