Tímea Bartha: My exchange in St.Gallen
No,no, nothing was seriously burning… only our hearts. No one and nothing could stop our cohort when the “Freed from desire” song came on at house parties, at Trischli or on the bus while traveling back from Octoberfest (see what I really mean on Instagram by searching for the hashtag #cemsisonfire).
But let me explain to you how this sensation of ‘being on fire’ has developed from the beginning of our semester. In late August, 2018 a bunch of ambitious strangers came together to form the fall CEMS cohort at the University of St.Gallen, in Switzerland.
All of us could predict the good chemistry of the new cohort from the kick off day spent in the Appenzell region. Besides having a good time while getting to know each other and familiarizing with the Swiss culture (eating Swiss macaroni with apple sauce, meeting the great cows of Switzerland and learning the top local rap hit of that time ‘079 het si gseit’) all our block seminar teams aimed to become the winners of the introduction games. Same attitude was true for the actual projects presented at the end of the block seminar. For example, our team has worked almost throughout the entire night until the deadline, the next day morning. To pay off the good work we of course made sure to celebrate and wind down with a party; this is when we got to know the “one and only” Trischli club, which turned out to be our go to place over the semester.
Before starting the actual semester, our beloved CEMS Club organized a two-day trip to lake Constance where our cohort truly started to bond together. Besides visiting some of the local touristic sights, we also went on a bike tour along beautiful vineyards and even rented some paddle boats for some extra fun time in the water. So, at this point I was wondering, could it get better than this? I had no idea what was waiting on me in this small, cow poop smelling town of St.Gallen.
It would take up numbers and numbers of pages for me to reflect on all the fun time I had on my exchange in St.Gallen. To give away just a few highlights: the Switzerland-Iceland football game (final result: 6-0; one of the greatest victories of the local national team), trip to Munich to celebrate Octoberfest, Scavenger hunt coordinated by the local exchange organization (3 of our CEMS teams ended up as finalists out of over 25 teams in total, representing our ‘fire’ spirit), trip to Milan to visit the local CEMS Club, trip to Budapest for the Career Forum (it was my greatest honour to host and show around 32 friends of our cohort in Budapest) and the final, emotionally charged three day farewell weekend in the Swiss Alps.
Although my exchange wouldn’t have been complete only with these exceptional social events. The academic and professional experiences provided by the University of St.Gallen and the local CEMS office have made my semester a truly valuable asset for my career and personal development. Academically, I had the chance to gain a broader perspective within the area of sustainability, environmental business practices and clean energy – something that I wouldn’t have been able to pursue at such a large extent at my home university, Corvinus University of Budapest. Moreover, I learned and applied in practice the concepts of ‘Lean Start-up’ and ‘Design thinking’ (nowadays crucial tools for efficient and effective business decision making processes) together with the help of consulting experts from PwC and Deloitte.
Besides the latter two, I had the opportunity to network and get to know professionals from numerous corporate partners on rotation dinners, company visits and the DACH Forum. To mention some of the most notable firms: AT. Kearney, Simon-Kucher Partners, H&M, ABB, Zürich Insurance Group, MET, zeb or Swiss.
If I would have to choose again where to spend my exchange semester, I would pick with no hesitation St.Gallen. It was such an incredibly valuable and fun semester – a true highlight of my university life, altogether. Thanks to this semester I have a new and stronger perspective on my career and life goals in general, and I became part of a new family (shout-out to my best ever CEMS cohort!!!).
In case you are reading this reflection of mine because you are interested in choosing the University of St.Gallen as your CEMS host university, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. It would be my honor to support you with further information (traveling, living costs, course system, etc.) and get you ready for an unforgettable exchange on fire!
Finally, I’ve collected some photos that would illustrate some of the best moments and sights of my exchange. For more insights on the life of a CEMS student in St.Gallen I encourage you to check out Instagram profile of the local CEMS Club @cemsclubstgallen.