Switzerland: An Experience of a Lifetime Past Review

By (Psychology, Bethany College) for

AFS: High School Year and Semester Study Abroad

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained leadership experience. I am now semi-fluent in German and Swiss German. I feel like I can communicate better with people, in general. And I am just overall much more confident.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I really liked the Swiss school system, but it was really tough for me, because going into the school, I only had one month of German, so I just could not keep up with the rest of the class at all.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I had many personality issues with my host family, but AFS would not accept that. They blamed each of my problems solely on me, and said that they had nothing to do with my host family. They tried to send me home early, not once, but twice, for no reason in particular. And really, throughout the year, there was no end to problems relating to the organization.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived with multiple host families, and got along with two out of the four families. I was treated as a guest by the two families that I didn't get along with, and as a family member by the two families that I did get along with. So there was a fair amount of dislike, as to my host family situation, but I would definitely say that it helped me pick up German much quicklier.

* Food:

The Swiss food is amazing, there is plenty of it, and lots of different options (vegeterien, vegan, etc).

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I really enjoyed the Swiss Public transportation system, and skiing in winter.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I personally did not have any health issues during my exchange year, but I had friends who did, and the program either, sent them home or told them to "deal with it". They were never very understanding.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
Language acquisition improvement?

I spoke in only German with my host family and Swiss friends. Yes, I needed German everyday because of the area I was in. But really, it's important to learn the language also so that you are looked at as more of a local. A good portion of the people that I met said they could speak English, but really, it wasn't true for the most part.

If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? If you are considering going anywhere with AFS, you need to be a very strong individual, and very much a people person who can solve their own problems. Also, be ready to work hard at learning the language!