«It opened a lot of doors that I didn’t know were even there.»
What is it like to study abroad? We asked Muskaan Vaidya from the Indian state of Gujarat, who is doing a Bachelor's degree at Lucerne School of Engineering and Architecture. A conversation about the diversity of career opportunities, nature experiences, watching the Football World Cup from a swimming pool and potato varieties. Potatoes? Read for yourself.
Why do you study Energy and Environmental Systems Engineering at Lucerne School of Engineering and Architecture?
For me it is the perfect blend of engineering and business. Which is also why I am excited to be finishing my studies with a dual specialization in both, Technology and Environment and Business Applications. Studying at Lucerne School of Engineering and Architecture with its applied approach, allowed me to find many internship opportunities. It opened a lot of doors that I didn’t know were even there.
How is student life for you in Switzerland?
I think classes here are much smaller than in India. This has been a very nice change. Also, coming from a bigger city in India, I would have never expected to look out of the university windows and to see mountains covered in snow, and patches of green where it had melted. The Pilatus is visible from almost every corner in Lucerne, also from the T&A campus.
And is it easy to meet new people?
In general students from the Energy and Environmental Systems Engineering program are very open and friendly. I think part of it comes from the international community that is created. We have had students from India, USA, Moldova, Slovakia, Hungary, Italy, Serbia, Germany and often exchange students largely from the Netherlands and Spain. Simply from the university modules it is very easy to meet new people since there are many interdisciplinary courses that are offered.
What do you do in your leisure time?
On campus it is usually hanging out with friends. I also took up the opportunity to go to some free classes like yoga. The area around the university is great for evening runs. One of the great things about Switzerland is that a beautiful route is never too far away. I also did a few winter hikes last year which was a cool new experience. To hike up the Pilatus overnight and watch the sunrise is on my bucket list.
How do you like Lucerne?
As a lover of old city architecture, lakes and mountains, Lucerne is a dream city. I have made some lasting memories in Lucerne like going ice-skating for the first time, trying the crazy Lözarner Määs rides, student parties, taking the cable car up to the Pilatus and also watching the 2018 football world cup with my friends the day Switzerland lost while sitting in an emptied-out swimming pool at Neubad. Lots of emotions. But nothing quite matches the feeling of sitting by the Lucerne lake, listening to the waves and birds.
Tell us about your most beautiful experience in Switzerland?
When I was a child, I read an illustrated shortened version of Heidi. My biggest dream then was to visit this mountain where Heidi had lived. But as I got older, the dream began to fade. Then, last summer, I chose a hiking trail based on a friend’s recommendation. It was a steep climb up, and then a long flat path until it wrapped around a lake. After the climb, the views took my breath away. It was exactly like the scenes from my Heidi book. The lush green fields, tall mountains whose peaks were capped with snow, lots of wildflowers, and even the little white goats. I felt humbled by the beauty of it all. Truly one of the best days of my life.
What is your favorite Swiss food?
I think the best Swiss food I have ever had was the fresh goat cheese I found on the beautiful hike I just mentioned. Funnily enough, one of the Swiss things that really stands out to me is the variety of potatoes – speckig, mehligkochend, festkochend and many more. It seems that the Swiss have different potatoes for different occasions. In India if I went to the grocery store, I would just ask for…potatoes! So that was an interesting cuisine shock. But Switzerland’s palate is also quite diverse. It is easy to find restaurants from many different cuisines. Italian, German, Swiss, Indian, American, Japanese, Mexican, Spanish. You name it and you probably have it.
What do you think, how will your studies help you with your career?
I think it comes back to the approach of HSLU when teaching. With the mandatory internship requirement as well as professionals from the industry employed as lecturers, the students have a big advantage in finding jobs right after graduation. The study also equips us, to an extent, with the ins-and-outs of starting our own business. Two of my friends have started theirs already. The opportunities of starting a career right after the bachelors are huge.
Who do you recommend to study at Lucerne School of Engineering and Architecture?
I think all students looking to start work right after studies are the best fit to HSLU. Also, students who wish to get their hands dirty from the start and really start understanding, questioning, and challenging different topics and ideas before forming their own opinions. The opportunities are amazing. Specifically for Energy and Environmental Systems Engineering, I would recommend those students to join that are passionate about making the earth a better place through sustainable approaches.
What are your career plans in the future?
While doing my bachelors I have had an auditing experience at Deloitte. I have also done a technical training at Swiss Mechanic and Schindler, so I learned the basics like milling, lathing, drilling, welding, or sawing. I have also completed an Artificial Intelligence code at MAN Energy Solutions. I worked at ABB to manage their product’s configurator. Currently I am working on a role offered by Hitachi ABB as a project manager to optimize the product costing process and implement global alignment. I have had a lot of opportunities. Of course, the immediate next step is finishing my bachelors. The plan then is to start a masters as well.