Summer Abroad Switzerland - On Site

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The Politics of Global Inequality


You will stay in university dormitories in single-occupancy rooms, which are furnished and equipped with a sink. There are showers, toilets and kitchens on each floor shared by 8 persons. There is a WiFi area by the cafeteria and in your room.

UC Davis reserves the right to change the accommodation location. Should this be necessary, we will arrange comparable lodging. Please note that elevators, air conditioners and other modern conveniences may not be available in all locations.


A welcome social event at a local restaurant in the beginning of the program will provide students with an opportunity to meet the instructor and each other. During field trips to the non-governmental organizations (NGOs), lunch will be provided. Most other meals are not included in the price of the program. To save money, students may eat in the dining facility located in the dormitory complex where breakfast, lunch and dinner are served or you can shop at local markets and use shared kitchen area of the accomodations. Students may also choose to visit nearby restaurants to enjoy regional Genevois and Swiss specialties.

Excursions and Day Trips

Geneva, Switzerland, represents a perfect place to study global inequality, given the prevalence of intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations that seek to address these issues. You will visit several of these international organizations, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the World Trade Organization (WTO). These organizations will provide different perspectives on the problems that developing countries face as well as propose practical solutions.

Study Abroad Advisory of Student Risk

Participation in this UC Davis Study Abroad program requires travel to and extended living in a foreign location(s) abroad. UC Davis Study Abroad endeavors to reduce and mitigate risk wherever possible.  However, the environments and risks associated with living in these locations are substantially different than those found during a regular course of study at UC Davis. All participants must download and review the following information prior to departure. Any questions should be directed to the Program Coordinator.

Study Abroad General Risk Advisory

Program Specific Risk Advisories (PDF)

About Switzerland

According to the following Lonely Planet description, Geneva is a super sleek, slick and cosmopolitan city (and one of Europe's priciest). Its people chatter in every language under the sun and it's constantly thought of as the Swiss capital—which it isn't. This gem of a city superbly strung around the sparkling shores of Europe's largest Alpine lake is, in fact, only Switzerland's third-largest city. Yet the whole world is here: the UN, International Red Cross, International Labour Organization, World Health Organization. You name it, they're in Geneva; 200-odd top-dog governmental and non-governmental international organizations meting out world affairs with astonishing precision and authority.

Currency: Swiss Franc (CHF)

Language Spoken: Switzerland has four national languages: German, French, Italian and Rumantsch, as well as dialect forms of each.

Weather and Climate

Prepare for fluctuating weather conditions. Some days will be hot, in the range of 90˚F; others will be rainy and much cooler. You are encouraged to monitor the weather in the weeks leading up to the program online.

Research Your Destination

Keeping in Touch

Since communication options can vary dramatically from country to country, Summer Abroad advises checking with the instructor or the Program Specific Guide for advice about what might be the best option for your particular program.

Calling the U.S. from Abroad

Many U.S.-based long distance phone companies provide special services that make it easy for you to phone home from abroad. Some provide toll-free access numbers that connect with an operator in the U.S. Some provide the means to charge long distance calls to a credit card or to a third party. Some provide better long distance rates. Others provide access to emergency, medical, legal, translation, and entertainment information. Students are encouraged to investigate these options before departure and to shop for the best services and rates.

Global Cell Phones

Most cell phone companies can sell you a special global cell phone with the option to add more minutes as needed. Also, most cell phone companies can unlock your cell phone for global use, but this requires a trip to a provider at your destination who will give you a SIM card and sell you minutes. Check with your cell phone provider for more information. Global cell phones are also available through travel agencies and online. Be sure to check the policies for both incoming and outgoing calls and text messages.

Cell Phone Rental

Some students choose to rent a cell phone that works at their destination. Some companies will ship the phone directly to the student in advance of the program dates—and include a packet for sending the phone back when they return. Interested students can locate service providers via the Internet.

Phone Cards

Many travel agencies and specific phone providers carry great options for phone cards. Check the rates available from your long distance provider. You can often buy phone cards on site.


Skype is a computer program that you can download for free that allows you to talk (for free) on the phone over the Internet with anyone else who has Skype. Go to to download the program. For an extra fee (as low as .02 cents/minute) you can enable your Skype to call land lines instead of just other computers. You will need a microphone and headset so that you can talk to the person on the other line. Skype also includes a chat option for instant messaging.

Instant Messaging Systems

Instant messaging systems are also a great free way to communicate with people back in the states. There are numerous options for messaging systems from AOL Instant Messenger to Yahoo Messenger. Just about every messaging program can be downloaded for free online.

Internet Access

Computer and internet access varies by program. Information for your site will be listed in your Program Specific Guide.

Internet access is offered in all the countries we go to, but the reliability of it differs from program to program. Internet can be accessed through internet cafes. Some programs also offer access through the dorms or on-campus computer labs. Internet cafes are very reasonably priced and often times have various instant messaging programs installed and headphones available to chat with loved ones. Relying on internet cafes may reduce worry of bringing your own laptop with you. You can upload pictures at most internet cafes, but remember due to the speed of some connections, it may be a better idea just to bring multiple memory cards to avoid spending your whole day on the computer.

Cultural Learning

Living in a new culture can be exhilarating, rewarding, and stimulating. It can also be frustrating. It is one thing to tour a country, but it is quite another to live and function according to different norms. It is important to be open toward a new culture, to try to discard stereotypes, and to learn as much as possible about the culture before departure. If you educate yourself about the country you will be visiting, you will better understand and appreciate your new surroundings!

Even with preparation it is likely that you will experience "culture shock." Recent studies show that there are distinct stages of culture shock. Some of these stages include: awareness of the host culture and preparation, initial euphoria and excitement, irritability phase during acclimation, gradual adjustment, and adaptation to culture. Upon return to the United States, many students face "reverse culture shock."

There are some things you can do to minimize your cultural adjustment. Keep a sense of humor! Treat yourself to an occasional U.S. indulgence like a favorite food, or purchase a U.S. magazine or newspaper. Avoid other Americans who are overly negative or who complain a lot. Keep healthy. Above all, don't be afraid to try new activities!

Resources for Further Study

Ethical Considerations in Study Abroad