The first week of July was a shorter week because of my long weekend in Morocco. I spent most of my time drafting a funding request for the European Union call for interest for funding for programs in Rwanda. I also made some updates to our website. For the weekend, six of us went to Milan for an overnight trip. Milan is known as an industrial city, but we did see the beautiful Duomo, and, of course, we enjoyed some nice pasta and gelato. The Milan cathedral is the largest in Italy, and is built in a gothic style which took centuries to complete. We also visited the Sforza castle built by the Duke in the 15th Century.
The following week, I did some award write ups and some research on the Asian Development Bank ongoing projects for one of the IBJ Board Members. The following week I focused on researching procedures used in Sharia law courts to start to fill a gap in the IBJ training modules. I also familiarized myself with the legal system and police organization in Ethiopia to draft a five day program of instruction to train police on criminal investigations for the IBJ Fellow working there. On the weekends, we visited the small town of Yvoire, which we got to by boat, and spent more time hiking and swimming.
I thought this would be a good time to note some helpful information about living in Geneva for future William and Mary law students who may consider it, because I would have loved to have had access to this information myself. IBJ has had a drastic reduction in staffing in the past two years which makes it difficult for them to provide any help with getting the work permit/visa, finding a place to live, and making other preparations for working here. In fact, IBJ Geneva as I write this has only four employees including the CEO, and 13 unpaid interns/volunteers. Because of this, IBJ is not even able to give feedback on intern work let alone help with administrative requirements. We have all been lucky to receive excellent help from fellow intern Alexia who navigates Swiss bureaucracy very well! I would also suggest learning as much French as possible. Most Genevan citizens do not speak English, and very few speak Spanish. Also, IBJ assumes that all interns will bring their own computers, power converters, and basic office supplies so don’t forget that!
I began applying for housing in January, but had great difficulty in finding anywhere to live. There is a striking housing shortage in Geneva because of a combination of how many unpaid interns work here in the summers, and legal restrictions on building more residences in the city. I was finally able to find housing through AirBnB (thanks to a fellow student introducing me to the site!) the week prior to traveling. For the first month, I lived in France, which required a 2+ hour commute each way, and my room had a major mold issue which made me sick for my entire first month here, but I paid only $1,600 for a room in another man’s house, and only $100 for my bus card. In Geneva, I pay just about $2,000 per month for a room in the man’s apartment who I live with. I did pass on one cheaper option because I would have had to share a bedroom/bed with two other men, and I was not comfortable doing that. In addition to housing and transportation costs, food is also very expensive. You can expect to pay about $30 for a hamburger at lunch. For an average sit down lunch (which we normally avoid), expect to pay about $50. Grocery stores are more reasonable, but still much more expensive than we would be used to- even from traveling in Europe. The upside is that you can travel anywhere in Europe on the weekend and probably save money!
IBJ will expect you to pay the $65 to get your work permit, and you will also need to travel either to New York or Paris to pick it up- so plan that in your costs. At current, the Swiss Embassy requires you to declare you have $7,800 in living expenses (not including your travel to and from Geneva) for your 12 week internship. I think this is an acceptable estimate of a bare minimum of funding to be reasonably safe and healthy- but understand that any additional luxuries (eating a meal out, traveling or doing things on the weekend, visiting a pharmacy/doctor, etc.) will be extra. IBJ requests that all interns purchase a local phone and local calling plan to be reachable on nights/weekends while in Geneva, but I declined to do this. I was able to add a texting plan for only $30 per 30 days and have been available at nights that way. All this covered, I very much appreciate the grant money I received from generous donor(s). Not being prepared with accurate information, it would have been impossible for me to complete this internship without a grant, so again, I thank the generous donors.