Same, same, but different

The University of St.Gallen offers two different Assessment tracks: an English one and a German one. We spent some time with
students of the English track to find out more about our international student body.

Offering the Assessment year in two languages has made the student body more diverse.

Offering the Assessment year in two languages has made the student body more diverse.

ST.GALLEN. The University of St.Gallen is not only known in Switzerland for its excellent education, but worldwide. To meet its global reputation, our university introduced an English bachelor level and respectively, an English assessment year three years ago. Whilst numerous Swiss Germans still prefer the traditional path, inhabitants west of the «Röstigraben» perceive English as far more approachable; opposed to the fact that they have all been confronted with German in their high school from an early age on. Also, the international reputation of our university attracts lots of international students. Swiss Politics at center stage Meet Henry. Henry is a remarkably ambitious assessment student starting here this year. His roots lie in Hong Kong and the UK. Growing up and graduating in Britain raised his interest for British politics. Now, coming to St.Gallen, as a complete foreigner with just a little previous knowledge about Swiss society and economics, he is being confronted with one of the hottest topics in Swiss politics right now: The pension provision conflict. As he is not affected by it directly, one could think that this would cause boredom. However, quite the opposite is true: «Looking at the government’s measurements in Switzerland when it comes to the pension scheme reform is really interesting. Especially when compared to the current situation in the UK.» He is not alone with this opinion. When asked about the case study, every foreign student agreed that it was indeed not boring, but quite fascinating. Networking opportunity Whenever you meet a Swiss German student in the English track, one can guess that they must be quite skilled in speaking a foreign language. That could have various reasons, as for example, English speaking parents, or spending the childhood in another country. Like Aneirin for whom both holds true. He spent his teenage years in Basel with his British family after growing up in the UK. The English track gives him the chance to be prepared for an international career. For him going back to the UK would be an option as London seems like a great place to work. When it comes to Freshers’ Week, his focus is clear: «Personally, I mostly use the Starter week to get to know new people. Socializing and networking play a significant role in a student’s life. As long as the university does not demand too much from ones performance, I want to spend most of my free time to expand my circle of friends.» He is not interested in winning the price, but having a good time. A dangerous choice? Although no official numbers are published, a rumor spreads around that failure rates in the English track are higher. Could that be true? For C´eline, a francophone, the language barrier could be a major obstacle: «Maybe it’s too big of a life step for the new students. They have a harder time adjusting compared to their co-students in the German track.» Well, we do not know whether the myth of higher failure rates is true. But even if it would be, it should not be a reason to be afraid, as there is still a huge difference between correlation and causality. And to be exposed to an international student body is definitely an advantage and will help when starting an international career. (Isabel Hoffet & Marios Vettas)

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