HSLU has a longstanding tradition of hosting exchange students, and this year made no exception. Three students from abroad decided to visit our department last summer:

Eline from KASK in Gent, Belgium
Saskia from Kingston University in London, UK
Jenny from Hochschule RheinMain in Wiesbaden, Germany

Now that their semester in Switzerland is coming to an end, I wanted to talk to them about their time in Lucerne and find out if their stay lived up to their expectations.

«I came here, because Helen said I should», Saskia tells me. Helen was an exchange student from Kingston who visited Lucerne in 2016 and instantly fell in love with our department – and vice-versa. When she returned to London, she convinced Saskia to come here, too. Saskia packed her bags and moved to Switzerland last summer, looking forward to meet the open-minded and welcoming swiss students Helen told her so much about.

Reality hit hard.

«Swiss people are nice – when you know them.» It took Saskia and Eline, who didn’t speak a word of German two weeks to bond with the other students. «At first, I wanted to go back», Eline says. But after a couple of days, the swiss classmates opened up. «People were very friendly», Saskia says «and toward the end we had some really good friendships».

The language barrier was non-existant for German exchange student Jenny, who therefore had a much easier start in Lucerne. «The vibe is very different here. It’s more like a big class or even a family.» It was new for her to see people stay in school until very late in the night. But she already has a theory: «It’s probably because everything here is so expensive», Jenny says jokingly. «If they stay longer, they don’t have to go out and spend money.»

The great equipment is something that stands out for all of the students. «We only have a total of eight Cintiqs to work on back home», Eline recalls, «not thirty like you guys». But they won’t just miss the hardware when they return. «I wish we had such a professional sound studio», Jenny tells me. «That’s crazy!»

However, there are things the exchange students feel fell a bit short during their time in Lucerne. «I miss having drawing classes», Eline declares, «where you learn basic stuff». There are currently no such courses in the animation department, much to Saskias chagrin. She agrees with Eline. «At Kingston, you are required to have a sketchbook and to be constantly drawing», she explains. «I think it’s important not only to animate, but also to observe and sketch».

So was the trip to Switzerland worth it? «Yes!», exclaims Eline. She looks at Saskia. «I remember how bad you were in the beginning», she tells her friend. «And now you’ve improved! We’ve all improved so much!»

– Owley Samter

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