St Gallen

Stories of a Swiss Scholar



January 19, 2022
• by
Kara Whitesell

Countdown to Switzerland 

25.10.2021 - Acceptance!


Acceptance LetterIt’s October 25th, 2021, a couple of weeks after submitting an application to the University of St. Gallen for their guest exchange program semester, and I received an email. In it, is an acceptance letter! It was like getting into USC all over again. There was so much energy in the air as it all sank in. I would be spending the months of my spring semester of Junior year in the beautiful mountains of Switzerland! Messages instantly went out to friends as we all heard back from our dream abroad schools. Now that step one was a success, it was time to start preparing.


06.11.2021 - Housing


On the 6th of November, the University of St. Gallen notified exchange students that due to high demand and a lower supply, there would not be enough University-assigned housing to go around. As a result, I took it into my own hands to find the best bang for my buck. For me, that came in the form of compact smart apartments in the outskirts of St. Gallen. The UNUS Apartments of St. Gallen is found near one of the Swiss National Parks and offers great hiking and exposure to scenic nature right outside the doors of the apartment complex. I was immediately drawn, especially because there were hardly any options available for housing in the area for reasonable prices. 

A Model of the UNUS ApartmentsThese smart apartments can come fully furnished as a full studio apartment with a kitchen and even a back porch! Tenants can also rent cars from the parking garage of the complex to travel the area on a budget. After communicating with the landlord through my USC roommate, Belis, who is part Swiss and speaks German, I was officially assigned a brand new apartment on the second floor, which has never been lived in before! The whole complex was opened on December 15th for people to move in, and I will be the first renter of the room!



23.12.2021 - Visas


Swiss VisaIt’s official! On December 23, like a Christmas miracle, the University of St. Gallen has given us our Visa Grants. After a minimal amount of research, I came to the understanding that a Visa Grant isn’t actually an official Visa. If only it were that easy. Instead, I had to familiarize myself with the FedEx mailing services quite closely and put a lot of trust into what seemed like the unknown as I sent my Passport across the country to the Swiss Consulate in the United States, specifically the New York City location. All it took was (1) my passport, (2) a scanned copy of my passport, (3) passport photos, taken with the magic of one-hour photo developing from Walgreens, (4) a copy of the authorization letter with the Visa grant, and last but most definitely not least, (5), a prepaid parcel with a shipping label and prepaid fees addressed to my house. 


07.01.2022 - Flights


With my program not starting until February, I had the luxury of being able to book a flight later on in the process without paying too many added fees. I know of a couple of friends who had to pay a pretty penny because they were traveling to Europe during the holidays to be able to start school the first week of January. I made sure to book my flight with checked bags included, so I won’t have to pay absurd fees at the gate. I’ll be bringing my ski gear to hopefully make my way to the Swiss Alps. I can’t WAIT until January 31st when I take off to Portugal and then to my new home in Zurich! 


Until next time!

Or as the Swiss-Germans say:

Bis zum nächsten mal!