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bachelor Alena Pavlackova, Brno University of Technology, ročník 2

Faculty Faculty of Chemistry
Field of study Environmental chemistry
Field of internship Agriculture and Food Science
Specialization of InternshipAgriculture, General
Internship period (from - to) June 2023 - September 2023
Internship duration (weeks) 16
Transport (means, price) bus, 50 €
Insurance/Insurance company Swisscare
Visa/Work permit (yes/no) no
Price of Visa -
City of Internship Zobrazit místo na mapě  Switzerland, Zürich
Internship reference number CH/2023-000090

About the country

Location of the place

Zürich is the biggest city in Switzerland, but doesn't really feel like a big city. It's easy to travel from here around Switzerland and abroad (especially to Germany and France).


Zürich is the biggest city in Switzerland, but not the capital city as some people think. Everything is very expensive here so be mentally prepared, especially the rent is a killer unless you live in a dormitory. There are lots of expats living in Zürich and pretty much everybody here speaks English. People in general are quite nice.
Zürich is the city with the most drinking water fountains in the world, so it's very easy to stay hydrated during the summer. There is also a lake in the city with very clean water, so you can swim there during the summer. Summer, in general, is a very busy season with lots of festivals and other events so I definitely recommend coming during the summer (also it's easier to find accommodation).

Surroundings (possible trips, ...)

Traveling from Zürich is quite easy because everything is well connected. I really liked the cities of Luzerne and Montreux. Then of course, Bern is very nice and is a must to visit since it's the capital city and there are literally bears, which I think is pretty cool. I think it's good to stop in Bern on your way to some other city (e.g. Luzerne) because the city center is pretty small and you can see everything in an hour or two and you can make the most use of a daily pass ticket that way. Then of course hiking trips. I hadn't actually ever hiked before coming to Switzerland and then my first hike was a via ferrata in Lauterbrunnen (totally not because I didn't even know what a via ferrata is when I signed up for it), which we did with IAESTE and it was really nice and I survived. Other than that I went hiking to Interlaken, which is a must-visit spot, and to Engelberg. While I was there I also visited Paris, because it only takes around 4 hours to get there by train from Zürich, and Valencia for the Valencia weekend.



I worked with the Grassland group at ETH University of Zürich. The Grassland group belongs to the Department of Agriculture and it is a small group (around 20 people) of mostly Ph.D. students working under Professor Nina Buchmann. The collective was great, we ate lunch together every day and sometimes hung out by the lake. The professor is also very nice and willing to help with anything and she gave me good feedback and some more suggestions for my work. The working hours were not set, as long as I worked 40 hours a week I could come to work whenever I wanted, except for when I had to do some work with others of course. Every 2 weeks we had a meeting on Thursday morning, where everyone from the group summarized what they'd been doing since the last meeting. I worked there for 3.5 months and got 60 hours of paid holiday which was great.

Work description

The work wasn't described in the o-form we decided what exactly will I do when I got there. I chose one of the projects they are working on and was assisting the PhD student. I chose a project called DONA, which is researching N2O emissions from agriculture. One of the reasons for my internship was to obtain some data for my bachelor thesis, so the PhD student helped me come up with something related to his project that I could use. In the end I was mostly helping him out with field-work - collecting biomass samples, measuring LAI and crop height and then processing the samples and some other small tasks. I was also helping another PhD students with her field-work and preparing the samples for laboratory analysis. For my own project, I got to use the collected data. I worked with vegetation indices that I obtained from satellite images and tried to use them for prediction of nitrogen uptake by the plants.

Salary (sufficient for local conditions?)

The gross salary was 2,000 CHF, which left me with around 1,750 CHF after taxation. You have to get a room in the dormitory and budget a lot, but it is still doable. Most of the salary deduction (around 200 chf per month) went towards a pension fund and this money was refunded to me after I left Switzerland.

Language requirements

Almost everybody in Switzerland speaks English. I used only English at work, sometimes I tried to use German in the city but a lot of the time I had to switch back to English again because swiss german is too much and I struggle even with Hochdeutsch. If you travel to other parts of Switzerland it is a plus if you know French or Italian (depending on where you are going) but again you can get by with just English.

Accommodation (price, who provided it)

I already had accommodation sorted out 2 months before my arrival that was arranged for me by IAESTE Switzerland. I stayed in a dormitory called Studenthaus Danho just on the edge of the city and it took approximately 30 minutes by bus to get to work. I had the room for myself and it even included a small fridge. The dormitory had a common kitchen, gym, and dining room and outside there was barbeque and table tennis. Overall, living in the dormitory was really nice, I met a lot of people there and the rent was only 570 CHF per month (in comparison, one room at a shared apartment is around 1200 chf per month I think).

Social life

Meeting IAESTE members (pick-up at the airport, organized events...)

When I came to Zürich a girl from IAESTE picked me up, helped me buy a monthly subscription for the public transport, and took me to the dorm. She contacted me even before I came to Switzerland so I could ask her anything I was unsure of.
We had a WhatsApp group where we could talk and plan events with other interns and where the LC members shared events organized by IAESTE. We had a weekly meeting every Thursday, which was usually held by the lake when the weather was nice or we went to a bar or something similar. There was also a WhatsApp group where we planned hikes together.

Meeting other foreign students

I met IAESTE interns on the weekly every Thursday. Outside of IAESTE I mostly met people in the dormitory. I also got to know all the Ph.D. students that I was working with.

Sport and culture

I didn't have a chance to do any sports other than hiking, because I only stayed for a short period of time and during the summer when the sports classes at the university weren't offered. I did quite a lot of hiking tho. It is also possible to rent a bike for free in Zürich (near the main train station) so I did that a few times and went on bike trips to neighboring towns.
During the summer many events are happening in Zürich. I was lucky to be there for the Züri Fäscht (Zurich festival) which only happens once in 3 years. There are also quite a lot of museums in Zürich, most importantly the Landesmuseum which has an exhibition on the history of Switzerland and the city of Zürich. What is also worth noting is that the art museum is free on Wednesdays. It is good to check the Zürich website for events that are happening at the moment, but I mostly got all the info from the WhatsApp group.

Food, local specialties

Swiss cuisine is not really anything exciting. Very similar to the rest of Europe but a lot more expensive. Raclette is really good and relatively cheap dish that goes really well with white wine (I got to try this at a wine tasting event in Sierre). When my family visited we tried fondue cheese, which is good but it's literally just melted cheese in which you dip potatoes. Other than that Switzerland is of course very famous for chocolate and there is a Lindt museum in Zürich which is great. You learn about the history of chocolate but mainly you get to eat a lot of it.
Groceries are quite expensive (especially meat) but it's also really easy to buy stuff for cheap. Lots of products are on discount before the closing hours and I must also mention TooGoodToGo which is an app where you can buy "mystery packages" and get lots of food for very cheap (usually 5 chf per package).

Other information

Possibilites to communicate with the Czech Republic

You can use social media as usual but since I met lots of people in Switzerland I didn't really have time to write to my friends back in Czech republic.

Recommendations for students who will go to the same place

- get a room in dormitory if possible
- get the monthly abo for public transport
- if you stay for longer period of time get halbtax
- download TooGoodToGo
- go to the weeklys organized by IAESTE
- check the IAESTE Whatsapp group for events

What not to forget with you

You need a power plug adapter. If you come during summer bring hiking shoes.

Benefits of the internship

I got a lot of experience from work but the biggest benefit is that I got to meet so many people both my coworkers, other IAESTE members and also students who lived at the dormitory. Both my English and German improved.

Cooperation with IAESTE in the foreign country


Overall experience with IAESTE

I'm really glad I randomly stumbled upon IAESTE when looking for internship.

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