I try my hardest to stay upbeat and positive and somewhat non-judgy when I disagree with how the Swiss handle something that would have been handled “differently” (aka better) in America. I talk to myself like your therapist probably talks to you, calmly explaining to myself that diversity is good and that they surely have a very good reason for why they do it the way that they do it. And besides, I rationalize with myself, this is a good opportunity for me to learn to think differently and grow. In this instance though, I need your help. Please be my rationality and help to me understand!
Here’s the scoop: I called the University of Zurich the other day to ask about their PhD programs. I’m getting better at knowing how the Swiss think, so I was already prepared for them to tell me that my US degrees were subpar and that I would need to take additional coursework for them to be considered “equal” to a Swiss degree. Heck, I wasn’t sure if they would tell me I needed a whole new Masters, which I was willing to consider. Not happy about it, but it is what it is. But then, this is the conversation I ended up having:
Me: Hello, I’m interested in applying for your Business PhD program. I have an MBA in Marketing from the US, but instead of writing a culminating thesis, I conducted a consulting project instead. I also have a Bachelors degree that was not in Business, but rather in American Political Science. I wanted to double check to see if there is some additional coursework I might need to fulfill before I can apply to the PhD program.
Admissions Lady at University of Zurich: I’m sorry but you are not prepared for a PhD program. An MBA is not a real Masters degree, and you will need a Masters degree to get accepted to the PhD program.
Me: Okay… so, if I already have an MBA, but you said the University does not consider it a Masters degree, what other Masters degree program would you suggest I apply for? It wouldn’t make sense to get a degree I sort of already have.
Admissions Lady : How about a Masters in Economics?
Me: Hmmm… but my field of practice is actually in Marketing. I wouldn’t be pursuing a career in Economics or really using Economics.
Admissions Lady : We do not offer a Masters degree in Marketing. But I am not sure if you will be accepted to the Masters program for Economics because your Bachelors is not focused in Business. You will have to apply and see if you get accepted, I’m not sure. But the MBA should help your application.
So, Switzerland, let me get this straight:
1. My Masters degree is not a “real” Masters degree to you.
2. I may not be qualified to be accepted into your “real” Masters degree program.
3. What *may* help my application to your “real” Masters degree program is THE FACT THAT I ALREADY HAVE A MASTERS DEGREE!!!!!!!!!!!
Please, I’m begging you my dear readers, help talk me off the ledge on this one. There has to be a logical reason, right? RIGHT? The problem that I’m really struggling with about this incident is that it’s not a single, outlier incident. In fact, it’s a common incident that happens often when I try to do something in Switzerland. Remember my earlier blog post about how hard it is to get the Swiss to take my job applications seriously? All of these little stories add up to one, big, giant, heaping pile of dismay. How can I assimilate into Swiss culture better when they have built-in roadblocks to keep me out? And, no joke, how can I keep my self-esteem up when I’m constantly being told everything I’ve done isn’t good enough??