group of people at Swiss Alps holding a GV flag

Exchange program brings Swiss, Grand Valley students together

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During a trip to Grand Valley in July, Martin Vraspir, a student from Switzerland, was impressed with the university’s size and campus life.

The industrial engineering student was one of 21 students who participated in a four-week exchange program. For two weeks in July, nine students from Grand Valley’s School of Computing and Information Systems (CIS) studied at Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW); then 12 students from ZHAW came to Grand Valley for two weeks.

“The campus size and infrastructure are amazing,” Vraspir said. “The campus life is like nothing I’ve experienced in Switzerland.”

Each year the study abroad program focuses on a trending area of computing; this year, students studied coding, big data and data mining. Paul Leidig, director of CIS, said students complete an entire course on each campus that normally would take 15 weeks.

When they weren’t in class, the students could be found exploring each country’s history and culture.

Madeleine Stuart, a junior majoring in information systems at Grand Valley, said a hike in the Alps was a favorite experience. “We took a chairlift up the mountain to get to where the hike started and the scenery was breathtaking. Everyone was so friendly,” she said.

In Michigan, students explored Grand Rapids, hiked the Sleeping Bear Dunes and took trips to Mackinac Island and Chicago.

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