DoctorYou S02E04: Settling in as international student with Aditi

12.03.2019: Aditi Chatterjee, third year PhD student at the Department of Earth Sciences guests on DoctorYou. She shares some stories from the times when she arrived in Zurich and from the process of settling in in this new environment! How did she do? What phases did she go through? What are her tips and advices?

Expose yourself

One of the main points of this episode is Aditi’s advice to recently arrived international students to expose themselves to many different environments, for instance by participating in courseworks, talks, workshops, excursions, student activities ecc. This makes it easier to meet new friends, local and international, and to understand how things work at the university by talking with the people you meet in these contexts.

Ask questions

Aditi also tells us about her first times in Zurich, when she was very very careful both scientifically and socially because she didn’t want to make errors. But still there were some questions she had regarding the lab or the social environment, as „Can this contaminate my samples?“ or „How do you reply to ‚Entschuldigung‘?“.

Picture from the e-pic archive of ETH Library

After a short stay back in India, she decided to start to ask these questions to people in her environment and this helped her settling in!

Why is it important to settle in? For Aditi, the feeling of being settled in and of being embedded in a social environment is important to enhance productivity, creativity and to feel more resourceful.

Moreover, having a group of friends and colleagues you regularly talk to might help you manage small and less small problems that can arise during your studies. For instance, if you are isolated and make a mistake in the lab or do not know how to do and administrative task like creating a bank account, it might be easy to start to overthink and make the problem bigger than it is. On the opposite side, sharing the situation with some person in your environment might help you find solutions and might help you to set the situation in a different perspective.

Resources and where to find them

There are many opportunities and resources for students available at ETH and in Zurich, you just have to find them. Look for what you need, ask the people you know and if you do not find it, then maybe it is time to start your own student initiative!:-)

Much more

During this radio talk we covered many more topics… Like the major difference Aditi feels between India and Switzerland, how to make friends, the language barrier, ecc. We also shortly made a small comparison with Aditi’s internship at Caltech. In the video below you find a small teaser. The interview will be soon available on Mixcloud!

How was your experience regarding settling in in Zurich? Discuss on our social media!

DoctorYou is present on:  InstagramTwitter, and YouTube.

Next week

at 17:15 on I am going to discuss the differences between MSc studies and PhD studies with Stefano, who already guested on the first season of DoctorYou! Don’t miss it!


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