Switzerland by glion.edu

This article was written by Georgia Scanlon, published on 7th May 2013 and has been read 9109 times.

A small, neutral, landlocked country in the middle of Europe which has 4 national languages is not everybody’s first choice Year Abroad destination. Home to 11 UNESCO World Heritage sites and some of the most breathtaking scenery that Europe has to offer in the shape of Lake Geneva, the Swiss Alps and the largest glacier in Eurasia, Switzerland is a destination not to be ignored. Renowned for watch-making, Swiss army knives, banking, cheese and chocolate production, Roger Federer and some of the best ski resorts in the world, die Schweiz/la Suisse/la Svizzera offers one of the highest standards of living worldwide.

Enthusiasm for maintaining old traditions whilst at the same time developing new technologies stand side by side in the Swiss Confederation (its official name), meaning the country is home to yearly yodelling festivals and also the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest laboratory. So whether you like skiing, big cities, tiny mountain villages, or lakes, there is a part of Switzerland that is for you.

The Mole Diaries: Bern (German-speaking) The Mole Diaries: Geneva Volume 1 and Volume 2  (French-speaking)

Why should I choose Switzerland for my Year Abroad? 

Switzerland is a bit of a mystery. Despite being in western Europe, it’s not actually part of the EU and only joined the UN in 2002. However, this definitely doesn’t mean Switzerland is off the pace. Far from it! Instead of being behind the rest of Europe, it’s somewhere off to the side doing its own thing, detached from both World Wars (or any war since 1815), which considering it was surrounded by Nazi Germany, occupied France and fascist Italy is very impressive, and is still fiercely independent even today.

“But Switzerland is so small!” I hear you say. Well, the smallness is actually an advantage. Wherever you are in Switzerland, you’re never far from either another great town/city but also other countries. Weekend in Milan or day trip to Liechtenstein anyone? This closeness works hand in hand with the linguistic variety, which is a big plus for anyone studying more than one language. If you study French and German, and are in Bern but feel like your French could do with a bit of brushing up, then simply hop on a train to Geneva and less than two hours later you can be parler-ing with the best of them!

Switzerland is also great for those who want something a little unusual. French and Spanish students head to the Caribbean or to South America if they want something out of the ordinary but German students needn’t go as far to experience something a bit different. Switzerland is home to Swiss German (Schwyzerduetsch), the most exotic of the German dialects, mentioned with fear by most German students. (N.B it’s really not too bad after you explain you’re not Swiss, they slow right down!) Shock and amaze your fellow students when you come back home with your Swiss German knowledge, and be surprised at how much easier Hochdeutsch now is, after months of Schwyzerduetsch!

Doing a Year Abroad in Switzerland is a fantastic opportunity to explore this small, wonderful country that is a brilliant mix of the old and the new, to experience four linguistic communities side-by-side and to discover just what makes these famous watch-makers tick. (Sorry, had to be done!)

Languages spoken in Switzerland

Map Languages Switzerland

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