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Visiting Switzerland and Germany from home

As part of my MSc in Islamic Finance, I signed up for a study trip to Frankfurt. Throughout the academic year, I got more and more excited about going to Frankfurt and combining this with a trip to my family in Stuttgart, but then COVID-19 happened.

I ended up traveling to Stuttgart earlier than expected and the prospect of the study trip happening started diminishing, with the pandemic getting worse worldwide. Eventually, the careers team from the Business School held a virtual meeting with all of us participants and came up with the wonderful idea to run this trip virtually. What did this mean? Well, surprisingly, it meant that not only could I take part in the trip I signed up for (Frankfurt), but also got to go to Zurich (virtually)!

Virtual visits

Whilst I was sitting at my desk in Stuttgart, I got the opportunity to e-meet a professor from the KOF Swiss Economic Institute, briefing us all on the impacts of COVID-19 on the macroeconomy and giving us an outlook on what possible scenarios we might encounter in the near and distant future. Moreover, I was appealed to learn more about the cryptocurrency scene in Switzerland and how, for instance, the Bitcoin Embassy is creating an ecosystem for all those who would like to be part of this scene. Toward the end, we spoke to a Durham alumnus who works at Credit Suisse, giving us valuable insights into the banking system in Switzerland and what makes it so special. We also had the chance to ask lots of questions about securing jobs in the financial industry.

A few weeks later I was part of the next ‘trip’ to Frankfurt where we learned about private banking and asset management in Germany, and how one of Germany’s oldest banks is managing its business. What I found interesting, as a German and potential entrepreneur in the future (who knows?), was learning more about the start-up scene and the venturing process in Germany, which is a bit different from how things work in the UK.

The trip ended with us talking to Moneyfarm, an online robo-advisory, and a virtual encounter with one of Germany’s largest banks, Commerzbank.

Learning despite lockdown

Overall, I had a great experience and learned many new things. Ultimately, despite lockdown, the goal of the study trip was fulfilled – I used all of the knowledge that I gained to perform well in my job interviews and secured a job offer shortly after the trips. Without the great opportunity to network and learn more, this might not have happened. I’d like to thank every person from the Business School who got involved in organising these trips, for helping me with the first building block of my career.

Although this was a cool experience, I of course hope that next year’s cohort can visit these two beautiful cities (luckily, I have been in both of them many times before) to have an even more positive experience.

Learn more about courses on offer at our Business School here.

Cosima Stitzl

I’m Cosima and am currently finishing off my MSc in Islamic Finance here at Durham University. Originally, I am from Germany, but I have studied, worked, and travelled to many places throughout my university time and am keen to visit more. This academic year started for me with a trip to Saudi Arabia which I have blogged about here.
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