Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is it compulsory for all outgoing students to participate in the mentoring program?

No, you can decide on your own if you want to participate in the mentoring program. But once you have applied for the program, it is expected that you participate actively.

2. How can I apply for the mentoring?

You can download the application form from our website and send it to Or to register on the website directly visit Registration.

3. Who can apply?

All outgoing students who are enrolled at the University of Bern can apply for the mentoring program. 

4. Is it only for students who are going abroad with SEMP (Swiss European Mobility Programme)?

No, all students enrolled at the University of Bern who are going abroad can apply. This includes study abroad with our partner universities, with ISEP and through individual exchange. 

5. The mentoring program is designed for an exchange of one semester. Can I participate if I am going abroad for more than one semester?

That's no problem. Although the structure of the program is for one semester you can still participate. In that case, you will do the post-sojourn session and the online survey with the participants of the following semester. 

6. Can I participate in the mentoring program although I am not studying at the University of Bern?

We are sorry but only outgoing students enrolled at the University of Bern can participate. 

7. Can I participate in the mentoring program although I am not going abroad?

No, we're sorry, but only students going abroad can participate. 

8. I am an international incoming student at the University of Bern. Can I participate?

We are sorry but at the moment the program is only for outgoings. 

9. Do I get ECTS points for participating in the mentoring program?

This depends on your study plan. If your study plan allows it, MILSA participation can not only be listed in your KSL but also be granted with 2 ECTS. 

10. What exactly is intercultural learning?

Intercultural learning is about learning how to deal with intercultural situations, e.g. how to act, behave, communicate with others in an intercultural context. It is also about learning to deal with personal stereotypes and prejudice and about being self-critical and self-aware. Today, we are part of a globalized society and intercultural learning is indispensable. 

11. What is intercultural competence?

A person's ability to communicate to communicate effectively and appropriately in intercultural situations based on one's intercultural knowledge, skills and attitudes (Jane Jackson 2014).

12. What is the gain for me as a participant then?

You will receive an official confirmation of participation from the University of Bern. The confirmation will list the intercultural communications skills, learning and competence that you have acquired during the study abroad and as a participant of the mentoring program. If your study plan allows it, you will be granted 2 ECTS for your participation. 

13. What are the requirements for me as a participant?

Participants are required to participate in the first steps (pre-) and coming home sessions (post-departure) in Bern. They are asked to stay in regular contact with the mentor and the project assistant. Furthermore, participants are asked to submit several short pieces of writing (blogcontributions), conduct a Skype interview with their mentor and interview one person about a cultural practice themselves during their time abroad.

14. What is the structure of the mentoring program?

The program is structured in different steps. We believe that all these steps are equally important for the acquiring of intercultural competences. It is comprised of a pre-departure session, the actual study abroad and a coming home session with several tasks included. Furthermore, you are required to fill out a survey after the mentoring ends.   

15. What are the steps after the study abroad?

About one month after the study abroad the post-sojourn session will take place which will focus on coming home, reviewing the expectations from the pre-departure session and preparing how to use the skills learned in job interviews and in daily life. About 3 months after the return you are asked to participate in an online survey. 

16. Are you helping me to meet people at the exchange university?

No. Our mentoring program doesn't help you with meeting new people at your exchange university. There are plenty of other organizations and groups which will help you to settle down abroad, for example ESN (Erasmus Student Network). 

17. Are you helping me to organise my study abroad with this mentoring program?

No, we are sorry. But if you have any concern about the organization of the study abroad please contact the person responsible at the International Office. They will help you as far as possible. 

18. How much time is needed for participation?

You will need to invest about one afternoon each for the pre-departure and the post-sojourn session. During your study abroad you are required to submit several short pieces of writing and to conduct one Skype interview with the mentor as well as interview someone you meet during your stay abroad. A couple of months after your return, you will be asked to participate in a short online survey.

19. Why are you offering the mentoring program?

Students who go abroad often return with new skills in intercultural communication and a worldly open-mindedness. While this is undoubtedly true for many students, some also come home from their stay abroad with negative learning outcomes and reinforced prejudices. This undesirable effect of study abroad can be counteracted by preparing and accompanying students during their time abroad with a mentoring system that supports them not only in their critical social and cultural negotiation with the host country but also in reflecting upon their own behavior in the intercultural connection. 

If you have further questions please do not hesitate to contact us.