Living in Neuchâtel: A guide for foreign students - 3

17.10.2023 | Vie sur le campus | Roxane Mazery


UNINE_BLOG-vivre_NE-3.pngYou've been in Neuchâtel for several weeks now. You've started your university courses, finalized most of your administrative formalities, visited the city and perhaps already made a few friends. You're in the process of discovering your new home and are probably looking for ideas on activities or tips to make your life easier. That's just what this latest article is about!


Episode 3: Final tips for enjoying life in Neuchâtel



You've been to your first classes and discovered how the university works. You have about a month to register on IS-Academia for the courses you want to take. If you have optional courses, you can go to all of them at the beginning of the semester to get an idea of which ones you like best. You'll then need to register for the exams, again on IS-Academia. If you're taking a course in French and don't feel very confident with the language, no need to panic! Don't hesitate to discuss this with your teacher, and check out the blog post on the topic, where you'll find plenty of advice on how best to overcome the language barrier. In general, you'll find plenty of advice on working methods and university procedures on the blog, so don't hesitate to use it if you need it!

An important thing to do is to look at the conditions for retaking exams in your curriculum. Some courses offer only one retake session, and a second failure in a course can result in total failure of the program. Make sure you know what these conditions are, to avoid any unpleasant surprises, and don't hesitate to contact your teachers if you encounter any difficulties.

IS-Academia also offers a very interesting feature: course evaluation. This allows you to give your opinion on the course and suggest improvements to your teachers. So don't forget to take part - it's just as useful for students as it is for teachers!


Shopping and expenses

You've probably noticed that the cost of living in Switzerland is relatively high, perhaps much higher than in your home country. However, it is possible to save money. To reduce your food shopping budget, for example, you can try to identify the cheapest supermarkets and give them preference. Most of them also offer a brand with more accessible prices and plenty of promotions.

You can also find out more about the AED association, which organizes free food distributions twice a week at the university. These unsold food items are supplied by local businesses and producers. If you have some spare time, you can also take part in the food collection. It's a great way to keep this sustainable initiative going and potentially meet new people.

The Too Good To Go app is based on the same principle, allowing you to reserve surprise baskets in restaurants or supermarkets with the day's unsold items, for an affordable price. The products are generally of good quality, and some baskets can even provide you with several meals.

When it comes to clothing or home furnishings, second-hand is your ally. You can go to the "vestiaire Caritas", which mainly sells clothes, or to the CSP (Centre Social Protestant), where you'll find a bit of everything. These second-hand stores, run by associations, offer equipment in very good condition for a modest price. You can also check out the ads on Facebook Marketplace or Ricardo.


Finding a student job

Without scholarships, the cost of living can quickly become very high for students. If your schedule allows, you can find a student job. As a foreign student, if you are non-European, you must wait 6 months after your arrival before you can start working. Foreign students can work a maximum of 15 hours a week. 

To find a job, you can first consult the "Jobs" tab on the UniNE forum, which regularly publishes job and internship offers for students. Alternatively, you can use the job search websites (Jooble, Indeed,, which also post student job offers. Finally, another effective technique is to go directly to the shops, bars and restaurants where you'd like to work and drop off your CV.

Once you've found a job, your employer must inform the Migration Service of your contract. If you are an EU national, your employer only needs to send your contract to the Migration Service to inform them. If you are not a European citizen, your employer will need to obtain a work permit for you. Most employers are supposed to be familiar with this procedure, but make sure you discuss it before signing your contract.


Free time

What can you do in your free time? Neuchâtel is a city that changes a lot depending on the season, and the atmosphere and activities are quite different in summer and winter.

In summer, you'll love living in Neuchâtel if you enjoy hiking, water sports and picnics by the lake. Neuchâtel and the surrounding area are full of hiking trails for all levels. For example, you can take the tram to Boudry to hike in the Gorges de l'Areuse, hike up to Chaumont or back down after a funicular ride, or go as far as the Creux du Van, which offers impressive views. If you like sailing, paddling or kayaking, you can take out a subscription at the St-Blaise nautical center, or find out more about the courses offered by the SUN. Neuchâtel is also a very lively city in summer, hosting numerous festivals such as Festi'Neuch, the NIFFF (Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival) and the Fête des vendanges in early September. There's something going on almost every weekend, and you'll never get bored if you spend the summer here.

In winter, however, the town is a little less lively. But you don't have to stay at home: whether you love skiing or want to try it for the first time, you're in the right place! The SUN offers affordable ski and snowboard lessons for all levels in the afternoons. You must also try all the Swiss cheese specialities: fondue, raclette... During the Christmas season, every town has its own Christmas market, and some, like Montreux or Bern, are well worth a visit. Finally, to spend a rainy afternoon, you can visit Neuchâtel's museums, many of which are free on Wednesdays.

Whatever the season, you can also visit the surrounding towns. ESN offers city tours, particularly during the Swiss Train Rally, an event that allows you to visit several cities in one day. Don't hesitate to show your student card wherever you go, as many establishments offer student discounts.



Finally, if you need help at any time during your stay in Neuchâtel, you're not alone. If you feel the need to talk to a psychologist, the UniNE social office can make an appointment for you, and the first three sessions are covered. 

If you're having financial or administrative difficulties, you can also contact the Social Office, which can advise you on administrative procedures, job searches or your financial situation.

Whatever your problem, you can also refer to the website, which will direct you to the service or establishment best suited to your needs.

This article marks the end of this series dedicated to foreign students. Whether you're coming from near or far, we hope you'll feel at home in Neuchâtel, and that you'll make the most of these tips to help you thrive in your academic and personal life :)


UniNE Forum Job offers :

Student jobs conditions:



Roxane Mazery
Étudiante en Master en journalisme et communication, Orientation création de contenus et communication d’intérêt général (MA3CIG)