My undergrad experience was a bit out of the ordinary. I enrolled at Franklin University Switzerland, a 4 year college in Southern Switzerland.
  1. •
    How did I find out about Franklin?
    I got a telegram in 2003 with news that a recruiter would be in the area. By then I hadn't met with any recruiters and felt this would be great practice.
  2. •
    Back in 2004 I wanted to be an International Correspondent for a news agency.
    Franklin was the only school that offered international communication back when I researched. If I was going to go to college far away, I might as well make it FAR.
  3. •
    Franklin is located in Lugano, Switzerland.
    That's in the southernmost canton of Switzerland where Italian is the official cantonal language. Switzerland's main languages are German, French and followed by the 3rd largest population Swiss Italian. Rhaeto-Rumantsch is the 4th official language.
  4. •
    Franklin is a US, Swiss, & Jordanian accredited institution.
    Which means my diploma is valid in North America, Europe, and apparently in the Middle East. The latter being something new and I'm less familiar with that part.
  5. •
    Orientation Traditions
    While campus and dorms tours are the norm in all colleges, ours included tours downtown to get Swiss phones, learn how to shop at the supermarket, point out post offices, and we had our own traditions: like a Trip to the Bridge in this picture which is also part of our school shield and to a wine festival in the castle- Fort city of Bellinzona.
  6. •
    As a US accredited institution, you earn college credit that is valid in the U.S.
    I was scared at moving abroad at first, but I knew if I didn't like it there, all my credits would transfer back to whatever university I wanted to go after.
  7. •
    My first look at America
    Franklin was my first time studying alongside other Americans. As a Texan, I cherished studying with people from other parts of the US that I wouldn't otherwise have the chance had I gone to my state school.
  8. •
    International Student Body
    When I started it was 45% American with the rest being split between Europeans, Middle East, Asians, African, & Latin American. When I graduated the % of Americans grew to 55. Today it's still a hub for cultural cross-pollination.
  9. •
    Our dorms were not ordinary.
    Dorms aren't that big of a thing in Europe and definitely not in our area. So our school rented furnished properties to use as dorms. Some had amazing views of the lake with each apartment having its own balcony. My dorm was formerly a whore house, but closed down when the city decided to take away its permit. Today it's no longer a college dorm :-(
  10. •
    Worldly Professors
    My Comm professors and biggest influences were Moroccan, Italian, Slovenian, and Japanese. Other professors came from former republics or were important to the European Union foundation. They knew a thing or two about what they taught. All professors do right? What stood out to me was that although we used US textbooks, our professors would connect it back to where they came from or to other parts of the world. The "international" part was relevant.
  11. •
    I majored in International Communication with an emphasis in Media Management & minor in French. My major evolved to Media studies nowadays. Other popular majors include Art History, Int'l Management, Int'l Finance, Int'l Econ , Int'l Relations, Environmental Science, History, Literature and much more.
  12. •
    Academic Travel
    Every semester there's a list of upcoming travels with academic focuses led by our faculty & staff . Students choose the travels that best match the Major focus, personal interests, or where friends are going. Half of my travels were important to my chosen major, and the other based on the latter. Professors' reputations were also a factor i.e. Staying in nicer hotels or roughing it, fun & carefree or prospective thesis judge.
  13. •
    My Academic Travels
    Berlin & Paris: multiculturalism in Europe, Venice & Croatia: History and Economics, Morocco: Music, Ukraine & Russia: Politics, Venezuela: Latin Literature, history and politics, Portugal: Mercantilism and Colonialism, and finally to Japan: Bridging Tradition and Modernity through communication.
  14. •
    Travels aren't mini-vacations.
    AT is a 2week credit bearing course that takes place in the middle of the semester. Some professors require a journal, reading, presentations, or even tests when you get back. Since AT is part of tuition, you don't want to fool around too much. %100 Participation is required. Your spot on a travel depended on Dean's List and then by class.
  15. •
    Mature around alcohol
    Wine was served Aperò style at many school events and no one blinked an eye if you had a beer with lunch on campus or had one during team meetings. Even then , you are NOT to embarrass the Franklin community with shenanigans. When I went to do my MBA in London, suddenly a drink with a professor or during a meeting was taboo.
  16. •
    But of course we were College Kids
    Since the beer & wine drinking age is 16 and hard liquor is 18, we also had fun with it and yes, parties. When I turned 21, it wasn't a big deal anymore and I celebrated sober.
  17. •
    The Semester Abroads
    With a class as small as 330 students- we knew each other well. But every semester the "4year club" got to welcome new friends. Apart from freshmen, study abroads were the newbies that made things "interesting". I still keep in touch with a few after all these years.
  18. •
    My last Orientation Group
    I took them out for Strawberry margaritas because I knew they would be my last group.
  19. •
    Quiet Hours
    In many municipalities there is a 10 pm noise curfew- that is to say no "loud" anything allowed! It isn't a big thing everywhere else in the country, but around Lugano, it was firm. We "the American college" were constantly being blamed for breaking the rule. In reality, the American students obeyed the laws while our other European students never did. DO, however, blame us for the lack of crossing etiquette and dumb drinking games.
  20. •
    We have a grotto for small meals & Dining hall.
    Early cappuccino or latte macchiato to go kept me ready for class. How about rabbit stew or a salami panino for lunch? This was La Vita!
  21. •
    Passport Stamps
    If there were any holidays coming up, we would plan to visit other cities or even countries. One of my friends, a Bulgarian, invited me to his country. His father owned a tourism company and organized a whole itinerary for us with guide, chauffeur, and a table at the club. It's a memorable Thanksgiving in my book.
  22. •
    We didn't get all the holidays off, and usually it was just a Friday or Monday. So while college kids in the US had spring break, we didn't. Thanksgiving on a Thursday? Sure, but there's still class. Since we lived in a Roman Catholic city, we had extra holidays, but we still had class. That was annoying since it meant stores would be closed and we had to Prep beforehand. Secretly we wished we had more snow days to keep the professors at home.
  23. •
    We each had a mini pharmacy in our rooms because there wasn't cough syrup at the local pharmacy- you need a prescription for that. Swiss don't believe in over the counter medicine and whatever you do get, is mostly homeopathic. One plus: you become fluent in a language when you struggle for life.
  24. •
    Marketplace of Ideas
    When you are taught abroad with a focus on being global citizens, you hear many opinions. That alone put many of my own beliefs into perspective. I will never forget when a tribal princess once told me Katrina looked like something out of her country or seeing a Saudi magnate be more interested in volunteering and helping others than a financial aid kid who was more interested in partying. People tend to surprise you, breaking stereotypes along the way.
  25. •
    Swiss Culture First Hand
    Many students would say Studying at Franklin is like living in a bubble. But your experience in a foreign country is what you make of it. I knew some girls that kept to themselves whereas my friends and I would usually mingle with other people our age from the local universities, discover new restaurants, and become real residents. My last year I decided to live with a local family where I gained a lot of insight & weight.
  26. •
    Italy, 17 minutes away.
    Lugano is near the Italian border. You can take a bus or train to the border and then cross into Italy for amazing Chinese or sushi at prices we students could afford. There was also a large open air produce market and since the euro is cheaper than the Swiss Franc, we often crossed the border for bread, cheeses, and alcohol.
  27. •
    Token American Latino
    Yep. That was my Hulk Hogan mustache phase. I remember someone in my business class actually wrote a poem about my ever changing beard & mustache.
  28. •
    Lago Ceresio- Lugano Lake
    No one mentions Lugano without talking about the lake. Quiet strolls, dates, going out for a jog or for some treats. It was a philosopher's dream. Even when it was dark, cold, and rainy- there was something that lured us to its shores.
  29. •
    Gelato is everyone's favorite treat at the lake.
    In the winter, gelato stands became crêpe stands. There was never a season not to go down by the lake. Except August- hot & humid like Houston.
  30. •
    We drew inspiration
    My skills are basic I can't even call my art Naïve.
  31. •
    And every year there was a reunion boat cruise.
    We always started the cruise classy and things....did I say we were mature about alcohol? I
  32. •
    Texas Club
    Yes, there was a Tx Club established, but when I arrived it was pretty dead. Of course I revived it with my fellow Texans in the pursuit of Tejas, friendship & alliance. Our best corn bread maker was Afghan and we gave her an "honorary" Texas citizenship. I miss you Moska! Californians never joined our group out of spite. But Texas Club did win 2 "International Food Nights" in a row!
  33. •
    The Pizza
    Living close to the Italian border, the pizza in Lugano was awesome. I don't remember anyone just having a slice. Swiss Italian culture also had its own regional food and it was delicioso.
  34. •
    And when you finish...
    Hello Sallie Mae !!
  35. •
    2004 Meets 2014
    My first group of friends. The first pic is college and the latter a Boston reunion.