UNIGE fair

Next Stop: UNIGE

By Louise Roux
UNIGE promotion

Click on image to see more pictures of the event on flickr.

A handful of curious onlookers stand in front of the University of Geneva booth. A freshman student asks, “Is that in Sweden?” Two female science majors inquire as to whether the university offers programs in biochemistry. Why yes, they do. A student in engineering wonders aloud if scholarships are available. Yes again!

I am with Vanessa Drigo of swissnex San Francisco. We are standing behind a table in a large hall at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), taking part in the fall 2010 study abroad fair for undergraduates. It’s the third fair we’ve attended as representatives of the University of Geneva (UNIGE), which has never before been present at these events but has a strong desire to encourage American students to study abroad—in Geneva. The two previous fairs took place at the University of California, Berkeley.

Eskil Eriksen, a UCLA student who stops by to visit us remarks, “I want to study abroad in Geneva because I heard it’s really beautiful… I heard Switzerland is the best engineering place in the world.”

In September, the student fair at UC Berkeley welcomed 60 exhibitors including foreign universities. Thousands attended and we answered questions and distributed brochures to about fifty of them, some of whom were already familiar with Geneva’s international side and asked about possible internships in the city. Three students were ready to sign up there and then and enroll in the Geneva International Students’ Program (GISP) the next semester.

A few days later, also at UC Berkeley, we brought UNIGE’s message to the QS World Tour, a fair dedicated to graduate and Ph.D. students. Although smaller (200 students attended and 23 universities were present), we spoke with 40 students with precise questions on admission, housing, and the cost of living. Not surprisingly, they were amazed by the low attendance fees. One student even stopped by to let us know how much she admires the institution’s psychology department.

But back here at UCLA, it’s now October. It’s the last fair on our tour and we’ve just explained the benefits of the Geneva lifestyle and clarified for the fifth time today that the language spoken in Geneva is French. A thousand students have explored the 58 booths; at least 50 came by to talk with us. Among them, two UCLA students, Alyssa Curren and Thomas Von Hauswith, just back from a summer exchange at UNIGE.

“It was the most incredible experience I probably ever had learning and just living in the city was amazing,” says Curren, who participated in UNIGE’s urban planning summer school program.

These two know exactly where Geneva is on a map (not in Sweden). They appreciate the quality of life and education offered there, and they hold fond memories of their stay. They are the best promotion for UNIGE.