Student Blog: Making international connections studying in Geneva

Ashley C. Pilipiszyn says that studying at the University of Geneva, the fifth most international university in the world, gave her life-changing opportunities to connect with influential people and students from around the world
January 13 2016


Flags at the United Nations, Geneva
United Nations, Geneva

View the 200 most international universities in the world 2016

Ashley C. Pilipiszyn writes about moving from the US to Geneva to further her career opportunities in international policy:

I am originally from Chicago and was living in Boston prior to moving to Geneva. I currently am completing a master’s degree in international relations and political science with a specific research focus on environmental security, energy diplomacy and policy entrepreneurship within global cities. In continuation of my studies, I intend to start a joint PhD within the Institute of Environmental Sciences at the University of Geneva in the autumn.

My experience as an international student in Geneva has been extremely positive, both within the classroom and within Geneva’s rich policy ecosystem. The city of Geneva and its university offer a wide array of opportunities for young professionals to network, collaborate and gain quality exposure to key players in a global setting, such as with the World Economic Forum, the United Nations and private corporations. The greatest challenge has been to decide between which events and talks to attend as the city offers multiple world-class events.

The transition from Chicago and Boston was not a difficult task. In the classroom, I am in a multicultural surrounding, connecting with students from different backgrounds, which enhances the overall academic experience. In terms of what makes my experience such a positive one, it has been the interdisciplinary nature of the programmes that cater to a variety of academic backgrounds, and how the university strives to bridge the domains of science, policy and technology.

I chose the University of Geneva because it is a global university situated geographically within the centre of Europe that has strong partnerships with other renowned universities and international organisations. This allows for a sharing of best practices and ideas that enrich one’s intellectual inquiry. I have had the opportunity to travel to and study in neighbouring countries, as well as more distant regions, such as the Middle East. I had the opportunity to serve as the teaching assistant of a studio (Urban Futures)  in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, San Francisco and Los Angeles. This course enabled me to participate in a case-based workshop that allowed me to connect with decision-makers, policy leaders, corporate executives and academic experts in order to develop a holistic view on the challenges and opportunities that global cities face. Being in Geneva, I was able to connect these local challenges to global decision-making and priority-setting across global agendas such as COP21 and the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals. Indeed, Geneva has played a pivotal role in establishing the framework, identifying the challenges and offering policy solutions.

The University of Geneva also has expert faculty from across the globe that bring their knowledge, insights, ideas and leading networks to create research projects with impact that truly engage students.  I also have been able to practise a new language as the courses offered are in both English and French. As a result of my programme here, I have been able to connect with other fellow Americans, both students and professionals, as well as the very active United States Permanent Mission to the UN. My experience with both the city and the University of Geneva has given me life-changing opportunities both academically and professionally and I highly recommend University of Geneva to anyone who wants true international exposure at the highest level. 

The University of Geneva is fifth in the ranking of the world’s most international universities.

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