From Bern to Québec: Canada through Patricia’s lens

From Bern to Québec: Canada through Patricia’s lens

Image: Patricia Bieri

Patricia Bieri studies political science at the University of Bern. Her exchange semester at Université Laval in Canada encouraged her to embrace the unknown. In this interview, Patricia reflects on how she experienced classes at Université Laval, the importance of language in Canadian politics, and why she believes going on an exchange semester is worth it.

Patricia, why did you choose to study for a semester at the Université Laval in Québec, Canada?

My brother encouraged me one day before the application deadline to apply for an exchange semester. I was accepted, packed my bags and rushed off into the unknown. It only hit me when I was on the plane that I was travelling to a place where I did not know anybody.

Is studying at Université Laval different compared to the University of Bern?

At Université Laval, I felt the courses were slightly more interactive than in Bern. Students were more willing to speak up and voice their opinions – even in large lectures. We had many open-book exams with open questions, where the focus was on applying what we had learned.

“You have to experience it to believe it, so go on an exchange semester.”

Patricia Bieri

Is the relationship between students and lecturers different?

In the political science classes, we discussed a lot of everyday examples to apply the theories we had learned. The lecturers asked me lots of questions about direct democracy. When discussing Canadian politics, they would frequently turn to me and ask, “how does this work in Switzerland?” I felt they were interested in the perspectives of exchange students and keen to learn more about politics in other countries.

Both countries are multilingual, how did you experience this?

In the French-speaking part of Canada, language is very political. There are political parties that fight for the French language. Shops even have rules about the language they greet customers in. As a politics student, studying abroad was a unique opportunity to learn about politics in Canada. We even got a chance to visit parliament and listen to a debate.

  • Lake Emerald, British Columbia
    Lake Emerald, British Columbia

What surprised you the most?

Even though I went to Canada for the first time, I felt I was never alone because everyone was so approachable. When I arrived in Québec City, I found out that the airline had lost my luggage. A lady I had just met on the plane spontaneously invited me to her home. It was her daughter’s birthday, and she invited me to join the birthday party like an old friend.

Leaving for an exchange semester sounds like a big leap, but it is not. I was very well looked after by the University of Bern and Université Laval. I think going on an exchange semester is probably the most cost-effective way to go abroad for such a long time.

Has the exchange semester changed your view of Switzerland? I learnt to be grateful for being able to afford to study without incurring any debt. In Canada, students often have a student loan that they need to repay. The most important thing is experiencing a different country and its culture. I could tell you so much about my exchange but the most important thing I want to say is this: You have to experience it to believe it, so go on an exchange semester.

Images: Patricia Bieri
Text: Caspar Bienek

Comments are closed.

Pin It on Pinterest