The mobility experience of a UC student in Geneva

The Ultimate International Experience

Hanna Franchi is 21 years old and she is studying at the University of California Irvine, majoring in Economics and International Studies. Having always been passionate about the diplomatic scene, she did not hesitate for a second when it came to choosing a mobility destination: Geneva and its immense international network would be just the right fit. She arrived in February and completed a whole semester at the University of Geneva before working as an intern at the United Nations (UN). This dual experience allowed her to completely immerse herself in the international stage, and live the ultimate Geneva experience. Leaving at the end of August, she took with her a very comprehensive set of skills, knowledge and personal growth.

Courses rooted in context

The immersion into the international world started right away with her classes. Typically accustomed to classical classes in economics and international studies, Hanna discovered at UNIGE an education rooted in context.  For instance, she followed a French course through the lens of "Switzerland and the world of Francophonie". Through courses like this, she discovered International Geneva concretely, in a multidisciplinary way.

She also followed the course "Economic analysis in International Organisations”. "It helped me learn more about diplomacy through my Economics major ", she affirms. She also familiarised herself with the lavish history of international organisations by attending the class "International Geneva", where she learned a lot about the UN, but also about the debuts of the International Committee of the Red Cross and other significant organisations. These very specific classes helped her "transition into [her] internship.”

The United Nations from the inside

Securing an internship in an international environment is often quite challenging. To palliate these difficulties, Hanna took every opportunity given possible by UNIGE’s close links to the international community. More concretely, she attended every event she could.  For instance, a couple of months after arriving in Geneva, she seized the opportunity to attend the UNECE Regional Forum on Sustainable Development. This event marked the Californian student's first time at the UN, allowing her to discover the world she has dreamt of from the inside.  Thanks to UNIGE, she also had the opportunity to attend a related luncheon with diplomats and experts. She felt very valued to have the chance to exchange on sustainability challenges with experts in such a small gathering. "It is a life-changing experience, I will remember it forever", affirms Hanna remembering this day, which, by the way, also marked her first time eating an octopus.


The side-event luncheon at the UNECE Regional Forum on Sustainable Development

Credit: UNECE

Later in her journey, she attended another small event suggested by UNIGE. During the latter, she really resonated with the passion and expertise of one of the panelists and asked many questions during her intervention. After the conference, she gathered the courage to go and talk to her. They ended up having a very interesting conversation. “You have to take risks sometimes and take a chance", Hanna affirms. A strategy that has proven to be highly effective: a few weeks later, she is hired by the United Nations, securing her internship.

In the Office of the Director General of the United Nations, in the SDG Lab, Hanna is, once again, living a very complete experience. Her tasks are varied, going from preparing meetings with diplomats with her director and researching new sustainability topics to taking notes while attending forums/summits and brainstorming on the kind of events that would be interesting to host next. Having a lot of trust from her hierarchy, she learns a lot about the behind the scenes of the UN, the importance of small connections, and the profiles and pathways of diplomats, experts, and workers from different positions.

“So many opportunities have come up for me, and there are so many decisions to make now"

Hanna Franchi

In addition to equipping her with many different skills and knowledge for her future, this experience opened many doors she did not think about before. For instance, as diplomacy has always been her passion, she is now planning to tie her experience with law and pursue Law School. “So many opportunities have come up for me, and there are so many decisions to make now”. One thing is certain: Hanna is now well-equipped to enter any of these new horizons.


UN.jpgHanna as an intern at the United Nations.

A highly recommended journey

Although the whole "study abroad" experience scared her at first, she ended up extending her stay for a few weeks. Now, she would not hesitate to recommend this mobility to every one of her peers. "Put yourself out there and take advantage of all the opportunities", she recommends. Indeed, in addition to the many new academic and professional skills she has acquired, it is also her life in Geneva she cherishes. She is surprised by the rich offer of activities, holidays, and festivals. “I love the lake”, she also claims, recalling her many rowing trips on the “Lac Léman '' and her times enjoying fondue or swimming by the shores.

Moreover, Hanna truly appreciates the diversity existing in Geneva. She met people from all around the world, fitting perfectly with her expectations of an international journey.

Now back in California, she is ready for the last year of her Bachelor’s degree. After that, with this ultimate international experience in her toolbox, Hanna will go on building her way toward her dream career, always with passion and enthusiasm.



October 2, 2023