Countries all around the world can learn from Switzerland’s peaceful example. Situated in a truly beautiful region of the Alps, high school students from everywhere can benefit from time well spent in this small but highly influential country. The nation infamous for its neutrality boasts some of the most prominent international organizations in the areas of scientific research, human rights, and economic development. High school programs in Switzerland are bound to be fun and highly educational experiences that students will keep with them for a lifetime.
Zurich is Switzerland’s largest city with nearly two million inhabitants and is a major global financial and research center. Sitting pristinely on Lake Zurich, the city has a quaint charm about it which paradoxically rivals its immense international influence. Zurich continuously ranks as one of the wealthiest cities in Europe with one of the highest quality of life, making it a highly enticing destination for high school abroad in Switzerland.
Geneva is Switzerland’s second largest and other major global city. Also situated on a lake of its own namesake (Lake Geneva), Geneva is not only a major international finance and banking center, but also one of the most important host cities to the United Nations and other highly influential international organizations. Commonly referred to as the “Peace Capital” of the world, Geneva is close behind Zurich in most measures of wealth and quality of life.
Other popular destinations throughout Switzerland include such cities and towns as Bern, Interlaken, and Lucerne. Many high school programs in Switzerland will take students throughout a variety of these locations, as well as other cities across central and southern Europe. Some high school programs in Switzerland also include the opportunity for adventure activities in the great outdoors, such as skiing, kayaking, or trekking in the Alps!
High School Abroad in Switzerland
Most high school programs in Switzerland last between two and eight weeks and take place over the summertime when students are not in school. However there are more long-term opportunities, such as gap year and semester exchange programs, available in Switzerland too. Switzerland is a very safe country to travel to, and most programs will offer consistent supervision throughout, so you know you will be secure and accounted for while abroad.
Some high school programs in Switzerland offer academic credit while others are more oriented toward adventure and exploration. For high school study abroad in Switzerland, students will likely have the opportunity to take immersive classes at a local school and also go on cultural outings led by an educator, to places like the UN Headquarters. These programs are more likely to remain rooted in one place, while adventure travel programs in Switzerland often have a detailed itinerary and will take students travelling throughout the region.
Language immersion is another potential opportunity for high school abroad in Switzerland, although the spoken tongue varies regionally within the country. French, German, and Italian are all spoken close to their respective country borders (French is spoken in Geneva and German is spoken in Zurich), so students interested in these languages can gain valuable firsthand practice studying abroad in Switzerland. If you are not a student of one of these languages don’t worry, the Swiss have a high level of English proficiency so you will be able to communicate fine!
Costs & Affordability
Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries in the world to travel to, so high school students will want to be considerate with their budgets. Still most high school programs in Switzerland will take necessary living costs, such as housing, transportation, and meals, into account and include them in program fees upfront, so students will not have to worry too much about expenses daily. If affordability is a concern then consider all the different fundraising opportunities with your family and friends.
Accommodation & Visas
Homestays or dorm style living are the most common options provided through high school programs in Switzerland (excluding adventure programs, which will likely have you staying in a variety of different accommodations as you move from location to location). Living with a host family is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in Swiss culture while also forming close relationships with locals during your time abroad. Living with other students in a dormitory situation can be fun too, and might grant you the opportunity to interact with other international students from around the world.
Students coming from most Western countries will only need to apply for a visa if planning to participate in high school programs in Switzerland for longer than three months. Students coming from the EU will not need a visa regardless. If your program does last longer than three months, than be sure to communicate with your program provider about the necessary procedure for obtaining a student visa.
Benefits & Challenges
Embarking on a high school program abroad is a unique opportunity to get out and explore the world at a young age. Switzerland is an incredibly influential country, which is at once geographically stunning, historically fascinating, and culturally enriching. The Swiss people are extremely friendly and show great hospitality to foreigners, so while it might seem like a daunting challenge go off on your own at such a young age, you know you will be made right at home in this great nation in the Alps.