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Switzerland is small but sweet – with four languages and four lots of history, it has a diverse culture and no two places are alike. The land of cuckoo clocks and fine chocolate, its scenery is sometimes compared to New Zealand, thanks to its mountain range, the Alps, as well as its lakes and rolling plains. However, it is more than just scenic – as our video shows…

Eligibility Requirements

You must be 16, 17 or 18
Enrolled in a NZ school
Getting ‘achieved’ or more in your school work

What's included in your experience

  • Airfare
  • Airport Pick-up
  • Host Family Placement
  • Housing
  • Meals
  • School Placement
  • Medical Insurance
  • 24/7 Emergency Support
  • Assistance with Application Process
  • Visa Application Assistance
  • Pre-Departure Orientation
  • Orientations during your time abroad
  • Access to Alumni Network
  • Continuous Support
  • Worldwide Presence
  • 70 Years Experience

What you are responsible for

  • Vaccinations
  • Visa and Passport Fees
  • School Uniform
Lucas Gontijo 2015-16 SwitzerlandDSC_0073

Host family and culture

You’ll most likely live in a German-speaking region in a suburban town, but some students are also placed in rural or urban areas. Swiss families can be very diverse but most are hard-working and thrifty, with only one or two children. Most families in Switzerland have pets, a cat or a dog. On weekends, people often take trips to visit extended family or friends.

Healthy meals are important to Swiss families Swiss cuisine is mainly a union of French and German alpine cuisine. One famous dish is fondue, in which Emmenthaler andGruyère cheese is melted with white wine and eaten with bread cubes. Rosti (a crispy, fried, shredded potato) is the Swiss-German national dish. Swiss chocolate is world-famous and beloved by all.

Canva – Woman Standing Against Handrails Beside Body of Water_edited

Language and school

With four official languages (German, French, Italian, and Romansch), Switzerland is an ideal place for international education.

A Swiss-German dialect is spoken in the German-speaking areas of Switzerland. French is spoken in the western part of the country and Italian in the south. Romansh is a language that derives directly from ancient Latin and has survived and developed in the isolation of Alpine valleys. No matter where you will be staying, you should have some prior knowledge of the language – at least B1 in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages for German, French or Italian. You will also have the chance to attend an intensive language course in the first weeks of your program, and AFS Switzerland will offer you an online Rosetta Stone language course.

Swiss students are highly motivated and disciplined when it comes to academics and the school system is very competitive. You’ll most likely attend a Matura school, a high school that prepares students for the University. A typical day starts around 8 am and ends around 6 pm, with days ending earlier on Wednesdays around noon. There are seven compulsory core subjects which include national and foreign languages, maths, natural sciences, humanities and social sciences, and visual arts and/or music.

Let AFS guide your intercultural adventure

Kick-start your future with AFS and discover who you really are, make new lifetime friendships and immerse yourself in a fascinating intercultural experience.

This programme begins at your home country with a pre-departure orientation and continues with orientations, other supported learning activities and facilitated conversations which will help you maximize your experience, cope with the challenges of navigating a new culture and community as well as gain knowledge, skills, and a global understanding throughout your time abroad, and as you return to your home country. AFS volunteers will be there to support and guide you and your host family the whole way through.

Find out more