The 19th-century author Goethe described Switzerland as a mixture of “the colossal and the proper” – and the spectacular Alps, which cover 60% of Switzerland’s terrain, are also certainly colossal.
In the same way, the Swiss live neat and orderly lives, and they are also known as detail-obsessed bankers and watchmakers. They are also polite and respectful of privacy, which some visitors interpret as reservation. But in fact, Swiss culture is a friendly stew of four official languages - German, French, Italian and Rhaeto-Romance – all of which contribute different traditions and cuisines to the national whole. According to Countryaah, Switzerland is a country located in western Europe.
The Swiss are proud of their diversity, but they are careful to diversify even more. They have been internationally neutral for centuries, first becoming full members of the UN in 2002, and they are not yet fully members of the EU, in part to protect the country from the influence of other cultures. And even though Switzerland is dedicated to world peace, all Swiss men must do military service and have a rifle at home. In fact, many Swiss work hard to perfect their sniping skills while skiing.
- CAPITAL CITY: Bern (the fourth biggest city in Switzerland with population of 121,742)
- LANGUAGE: German, French, Italian & Rhaeto-Romance
- CURRENCY: Swiss franc (CHF)
- AREA: 41,285 km2
- POPULATION: 8,341,000 (2014 estimate)
People and community
You will probably live in a German-speaking region in a suburb, but some students will also be located in rural or urban areas. Swiss families can be very different, but most are hardworking and frugal and have one or two children. Most families in Switzerland have pets; either a cat or a dog. On the weekends, people often go on trips where they visit family or friends.
Swiss students are highly motivated and disciplined and the school system is very competitive. You will probably have to go to a school that prepares students for university. A typical day starts around 08:00 and ends around 18:00, but on Wednesday the day ends around noon. There are seven compulsory majors, which are national and foreign languages, mathematics, natural sciences, humanities and social sciences, as well as visual arts and / or music.
With four official languages (German, French, Italian and Rhaeto-Romance), Switzerland is an ideal place for international education.
A Swiss-German dialect is spoken in the German-speaking areas, French is spoken in the western part of the country, and Italian in the southern. Rhaeto-Romance is a language that originates directly from ancient Latin and has survived and developed in the isolation of the valleys of the Alps. No matter where you live, you should have some prior knowledge of the language – at least level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages such as German, French and Italian. You will have the opportunity to attend an intensive language course in the first weeks of your program, and we in Switzerland will offer you an online Rosetta Stone language course.
Healthy meals are important for Swiss families. Swiss cuisine is mainly an inspiration from French and German alpine cuisine. A famous dish is fondue, where emmenthaler – and gruyère 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 loved by many.