Welcome Week at Warwick

Stephanie Heeb is studying for an MA in English and French at the University of Zurich. During the Autumn Semester 2019, she is completing a semester abroad at the University of Warwick in Coventry.

I had been warned about Welcome Week (or Fresher’s week, as it’s also known). “You won’t get any sleep.” “It’s like a week-long hangover.” “You’ll definitely get fresher’s flu.” And to be honest, I was rather apprehensive about the experience. I thought Welcome Week would be all about drinking, and while I do enjoy the occasional night out, a week of partying sounded like hell to me. So while I was hopeful I’d make friends, I felt rather doubtful about this first week. There weren’t even going to be any actual classes – was there really much point in being there? 

 It turns out there was – Welcome Week turned out to be such a joyful experience that I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. The best thing I did in preparation was to connect with other students in advance. I had joined a Facebook chat for other incoming study abroad students, which was useful in preparation for the exchange, as we were able to ask each other questions about housing and registration. But it was on the first night especially where I was really glad to know there were some people I could go out and grab a drink with. I was anxious that I would spend the first day sat in my (rather depressing) room alone; but it ended up being a lovely evening, where I got to know a couple of people over a pint in the Student’s Union’s pub.

Continue reading “Welcome Week at Warwick”

Elif Shafak – a Gem of Contemporary Turkish Literature

By Leah Süss

After four semesters of studying English, I have realized that the novels that touch me most belong to the field of postcolonial literatures. However, my interest in “non-Western” literature had already been sparked years before university. I realised early on that immersing into a different culture’s experiences and its stories can be highly enriching, as it allows me a better understanding of other people’s realities, which finally enabled more tolerance and a better understanding of the world’s complexity. Reading a story of a white woman’s struggles in early Europe, for example, is touching as it seems to be easy to identify with the protagonist. But what about being confronted with a Kurdish male character who decides to kill his mother in the name of honour? This may sound less comfortable but, all in all, it can be extremely helpful to understand important issues with religious and cultural differences that are still prevalent today.                                                            

One of my favourite authors who allowed me such an experience is Elif Shafak. Having read almost every novel of hers, I count three of her books to my all-time favourites. Currently, I am reading her latest novel, and she keeps amazing me. Thus, I would like to introduce you to this talented and inspiring Turkish woman.

Continue reading “Elif Shafak – a Gem of Contemporary Turkish Literature”

Podcasts for the Summer Months (and the Rest of the Year)

Imagine: a hot summer’s day. You’re lying on a slightly scratchy towel, next to the lake, still dripping from having taken a dip. The sun is slowly warming up your limbs, and your wet hair clings to your scalp. You’re feeling utterly content. It’s too hot to read a book – the effort of having to hold it up and turn the pages feels too much to bear in this moment. You put in your earphones instead, to block out the sound of the wailing children nearby, and you put on a podcast.

Which podcast, you ask? Here’s a list of recommendations.

Continue reading “Podcasts for the Summer Months (and the Rest of the Year)”

Young, Bohemian, Obsessed: Three Novels

By Stephanie Heeb

After three years of reading the books listed on a syllabus or on one of multiple reading lists, which were mostly filled with books from preceding centuries, last year was the year I fell back in love with contemporary fiction. Having the complete freedom to choose what I wanted to read, I browsed bookshops with immense pleasure and excitement. I read a lot and I read widely; from children’s fiction to classics to commercial romance. Only when I looked back recently, however, did I notice that three of my favourite books from that year showed significant, almost curious, similarities: all published after 2016, they were all written by young, Irish female writers, and all treat themes so similar, that I started interrogating myself about why it was that I was drawn to those specific books.

Continue reading “Young, Bohemian, Obsessed: Three Novels”

Celestial bl(ack)ue

By Daria Galkina

If I am celestial blue,
Is there any celestial black?
In velvet,
Embroidered with beads?
In sequin,
Opaque and matted,
Noble.

Is there any celestial black?
In glory,
With cut out uncertainty;
Neat-handed
And with a lindy-hop talent
For dancehall?

Is there any celestial black
In grace?
Tits looking fit in décolleté,
Heels with the heels,
Glittery lipstick, smoky eyes –
Looking sharp?

If I am celestial blue,
Is there any celestial black?
23 y.o.,
Perky and beckoning,
Confident,
Red haired and weary,
Effeminate?

Hidden Swiss Treasures

By Alina Mamedova

What things or who are considered to be the main hallmarks of Switzerland? Swiss cheese? Swiss chocolate? Swiss knives? Swiss fondue and raclette? Roger Federer? Swiss banks? Well, and how about figure skating? In my experience, myriad people do not relate figure skating to Switzerland at all, and I cannot wait to show you that these two have a lot to do with each other.

Here, I need to take a little time with a preamble before pushing forward. I am myself a foreign student, who did not know much about Switzerland before coming here. What did I know about this amazing country? Of course, I knew that Switzerland was kind of a wonderland with its amazing nature, fresh air, the best chocolate in the world, ski resorts, and, strange to many of my Swiss friends as it may sound – Stephane Lambiel, Sarah Meier, and Denise Biellmann. The cream of the crop of Swiss and international figure skating.

Continue reading “Hidden Swiss Treasures”

An English Student in Paris

Enora Maurer studies English and French at the University of Zurich. Since Septemeber of last year, she has been on an exchange in Paris, studying at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3.

Studying in Paris! Even as an English student it is an exceptional experience. Granted, I am not primarily in Paris to study English, as I am doing my exchange with the French department. However, last semester I was able to take English seminars from the “monde anglophone”, as well, which I really enjoyed. 

Of course, everybody had warned me that the level would be much lower here than in Zurich, as the stereotype that English is not considered a French speciality is deeply anchored in people’s minds (which, I have to say, was mostly contradicted within the “monde anglophone”). Having nevertheless been prepared for anything, I must say that I was positively surprised; or relieved, maybe, as I had expected much worse. For one, the work load for English seminars was much higher than for the French ones, so in that respect it is similar to Zurich. 

Continue reading “An English Student in Paris”

Welcome back to ZEST

Welcome (back) to ZEST, The Zurich English Student newspaper.

We thought it was about time the site had a bit of a makeover, and now you can see the result – let us know what you think!

Don’t worry though – nothing has gone. All posts from 2011 to 2017 are safely stored in the archive where you’ll be able to find them easily if you search for a specific title, author or tag. Or just have a browse, there are some hidden gems to be found! If you’re interested in writing an article, a review or anything at all for ZEST, head over to the ‘About’ section or contact us on zest.editor@gmail.com. And remember, this is your paper – any feedback or suggestions are highly welcome.

Meanwhile, we have some exciting posts coming up, so make sure you follow the blog, or The Zurich English Student on Facebook and Twitter, to stay in the loop. 

Love,

The ZEST team

The Best Films of 2018

By Alan Mattli

A_The Best Films of 2018

According to my Letterboxd account, which I’ve started cultivating in earnest in 2018, I spent roughly 378 hours of said year watching movies – 206 of them, to be exact – averaging four viewings per week. Now, as the year has drawn to a close, it’s time once again to pick my favourites from that selection, as I’ve done on The Zurich English Student for the past seven years (’11, ’12, ’13, ’14, ’15, ’16, ’17). In 2018, I landed on a comparatively modest set of 15 films, though that is the result of perhaps a more rigorous decision-making process than in the past, which led to the shutout of such high-quality offerings as Steve McQueen’s Widows, Xavier Legrand’s Custody, and Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer.

As usual, my list differs from those by the likes of David Ehrlich or Priscilla Page – to name just two of my favourite critics – in that it is missing a few essential players from the 2018–19 awards season (The Favourite, If Beale Street Could Talk) and instead includes a few familiar titles from last year’s Oscar campaign. The reason for this is the same as ever: my list adheres to the Swiss release schedule, which all too rarely coincides with its U.S. equivalent. So what follows are my top ten films that opened in Switzerland in 2018, preceded by five honourable mentions (highlighted in bold).

Continue reading “The Best Films of 2018”