Hospitality runs in her blood, and she sees her role as that of a host: “We want to show UZH members from abroad that they’re welcome at the University of Zurich,” says the head of the International Scholars Center, who holds a PhD in literature.
Since she embarked on the role last September, she has been in charge of the service offering, creating the website, and setting up the center. Now, standing in the International Scholars Center’s new home on the third floor of the main building, she stresses just how important it is to make non-professorial academic staff from abroad feel well. “Anyone coming to the university from abroad is glad to have help getting started,” explains Fountoulakis.
She provides the information they need at the two offices on the City and Irchel Campuses, either during visiting hours or by appointment. The services are geared to PhD candidates, postdocs, academic guests, and administrative staff from abroad. The center also looks after foreign researchers starting a PhD or doing research in Zurich on a Swiss Government Excellence Scholarship.
Inquiries from the US, the UK, and Japan
The International Scholars Center is not there to provide academic advice on research work. Instead it concentrates on giving help with practical everyday matters, such as finding a place to live, insurance, child care, or leisure activities.
Since many of these things have to be arranged before arriving at UZH, much of this advice is provided electronically. This also applies to the requirements for entering Switzerland, which are described in detail on the center’s homepage. Given that the majority of the people served by the center do not speak German, its entire website is in English. At the moment most inquiries come from the US, the UK, and Japan.
The International Scholars Center has been set up as part of the university’s internationalization strategy, and runs under the auspices of the International Relations department. Evi Fountoulakis also gets a lot of support from her colleagues in the department. “It’s important for us to give expert, well-founded advice,” she says. After all, the UZH wants to underscore its attractiveness by offering guests from abroad a warm welcome so that they’re not only glad to stay, but will also want to come back.
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