7 week college trip - Zurich or Copenhagen

Hello! My son's college (Worcester Polytechnic University) has a project program that send groups of students abroad along with professors to project centers where they work as a team to solve a real-world problem or to conduct research for a non-profit, or local government organization. There are over 30 sites around the world, and the students stay there for 7 weeks. Anyway, my son is trying to decide between Copenhagen and Zurich. I know Rick Steves is not wild about Zurich, but my son is leaning towards it because it is more centrally located. He will be able to travel on weekends so he thinks Zurich is much better for that even if the city itself is not as interesting as Copenhagen.
So if you have been to these two cities which would you choose if you were in his shoes? Thanks for any advice...

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9091 posts

I would prefer Copenhagen as a city to visit, but I like the location of Zurich much better. It's within a hour's drive of some world class skiing and hiking. Zurich may not be the most fascinating place to visit, but it usually ranks very high in rankings of the world's most livable cities. Copenhagen, however, might be more fun for someone of college age. The city hosts a huge universtiy population. As for costs of living, Copenhagen might be marginally less expensive, but neither city is cheap.

Posted by Mark
Santa Barbara, CA, USA
144 posts

I would have said no to Zurich a decade ago. Today however, I feel that the situation is different and Zurich is becoming quite a lively city.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
2855 posts

For travel opportunities I would choose Zurich. When I was in Italy, I noticed that there were frequent trains from the Cinque Terre (Italian Riviera) to "Zorigo" (Zurich). Look at a train map of the area radiating out from Zurich and you will find that many places are available by train. In Europe, often a 2-3 hr train trip can take one to a different city or country.

Posted by Tim
Knoxville, TN, USA
3060 posts

Switzerland has the best public transportation system I've ever seen. It has a very high standard of living and some of the most jaw-dropping scenery in all of the world. Zurich has a beautiful old town right on the lake and and efficient rail network that will whisk you to wherever you want to go. Zurich!

Posted by Kira
Seattle, WA, USA
954 posts

I would choose Copenhagen, hands down. Great scene for college-aged people. Really awesomely fun little city. Travel won't be that more onerous, and since he'll be wherever he chooses to stay the majority of the time, he should stay (IMHO) someplace pretty, charming, inviting, friendly, and FUN.

Posted by Will
Columbia, SC
315 posts

There are TGV's from Zurich to Paris making that run in four hours, so he could conceivably do that on a Friday afternoon and come back Sunday night. I took a night train a few years ago from Zurich to Florence, but that service doesn't seem to exist anymore. Hopefully he can manage a week or two of additional travel after his program ends? For his sake, please allow him a generous travel budget!

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8731 posts

Seems to me that the location to choose would be first, which has the better project program and then, if still equal location. It would be a shame for him to be so unhappy with the project that he was just living for the weekends rather than getting into the project and doing a bit of travel as the icing on the cake...

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2600 posts

Agree with Nigel... I would want to be where I enjoyed my life all week, and if I were young and in college I would chose Copenhagen and figure out how to make the rest of my travel work. Also... won't cost of living be cheaper in Copenhagen (although still expensive) so maybe the travel budget can increase. I have been to both cities and would return to Copenhagen in a minute. Also... there are lots of cool places to be explored near Copenhagen.

Posted by Sasha
Bainbridge Island
1583 posts

I was going to agree with Nigel too. But then I looked at the program itself, and see that both the Zurich and Copenhagen IQP programs for 2013-2014 are closed to more applicants. The application deadline was Sept. 28. So the discussion may be moot. Or is he thinking of going the next year, 2014-2015?

Posted by Andre L.
Tilburg, Netherlands
2171 posts

Zürich is more interesting in that it has easy and quick access to many different places (landscape, languages etc) by rail, whereas København is more isolated (except from Malmo).

Posted by C.
Springfield
2 posts

Wow! Thanks for all the helpful replies so far! I'm seeing a consensus that people think Copenhagen is a more interesting city than Zurich, but Zurich has a better location for weekend excursions. In response to a few questions - my son is happy with the projects being offered at both sites so that is not an issue at all. He went to presentations given by the professors running each site and has interviewed with the Zurich team already. Yes, the students applied this fall for travel next year. They find out in January which site they got into. As you can imagine, there is competition for sites that students are most interested in. So their applications include their backup choices.
I wish I had an opportunity like that when I was in college!

Posted by Jim
Bern, Switzerland
341 posts

I love Copenhagen and the Danes, but as a travel base Zurich is a much better base. It is also worth noting that the Swiss railway system (SBB) offers many discounted tickets for weekend travel....