Portrait of Yonca Krahn.

Switzerland for Incomings

Innovative teaching methods help exchange students gain an anthropological understanding of Switzerland

Students who come to UZH for an exchange semester have to find their feet as soon as possible, navigating not just the university, but also the particularities of Swiss daily life. The University of Zurich has recently introduced a special program for exchange students to get to know each other as well as the University and the customs of the host country. Supported by the Teaching Fund, Yonca Krahn, Juliane Neuhaus and Mischa Gallati from the Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies have developed the module “Switzerland for Incomings”. The course, which is delivered in English, is aimed exclusively at exchange students, irrespective of their subject and academic experience. “We’ve designed a course that shows how people live in a pluralistic immigration society like Switzerland,” explains Mischa Gallati. As part of the classes, the students read and discuss texts in the areas of cultural studies and social anthropology that relate to Switzerland. They also visit urban locations – for example Zurich’s Sechseläutenplatz – to systematically observe and learn about daily life. Exchange students are also introduced to other ethnographic methods such as conducting interviews and ethno-photography. The project team combines proven teaching methods, such as classroom sessions, with innovative formats such as research-based learning outside of the university. They also use a blog to connect the students and create a platform for knowledge transfer. The module has attracted considerable interest: Switzerland for Incomings will be offered for the second time this Fall Semester – and is already fully booked.