At the University of Neuchâtel, things work on a small scale. Professors and students know each other and often stop for a chat in the corridors or engage in friendly conversation while waiting in line at the cafeteria.
Having just obtained a bachelor degree in natural systems, I am currently pursuing a master’s programme in hydrogeology and geothermics at this small university.
So far, I have rarely taken a class that took place in a room meant for more than 30 people and I have worked with professors who knew my name, my specific curriculum and were willing to adapt to it.
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Teaching assistants are available and always happy to answer any questions or encourage students during the stressful time of exams. It is not uncommon for them to share a drink and discuss world affairs with students after class.
Groups of students become cohesive very quickly. Non-native French speakers and exchange students can rapidly adapt to their new environment, thus making the cross-cultural experience all the more fascinating. This small scale also makes it easy to organise field trips or excursions that contribute both to illustrating theoretical concepts seen in class and fostering social interactions.
Student associations also have a vibrant presence at the University of Neuchâtel. Each of the four faculties has its own student association but there are many other groups that bring students together according to their interests – theatre, music, ecology, communication or even party planning.
All of these associations are part of the FEN (Federation of Neuchâtel Students) and often collaborate when organising events. Members know each other and help build official and more informal links between the different faculties, thus contributing to the dynamic ecosystem of the University of Neuchâtel.