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Program Description

The Swiss are famous for their achievements in the competitive fields of finance, medicine, and design, but they have a softer side as well, with a profound love of family and the natural world. The Swiss are passionate about outdoor sports, especially hiking, skiing, and bicycling in the beautiful mountains and forests. In a society where three languages are spoken – German, French, and Italian – the Swiss have earned their reputation for diplomacy.


The official and written languages in Switzerland are German, French, Italian and Romansh. The 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.
For the Year program, previous knowledge of German, French, or Italian language is always encouraged, but it won’t guarantee you a placement in any specific region.
For the Trimester program, placements are not possible without previous language background in French or German. We require that you be able to demonstrate at least a B1 level of proficiency, as defined by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. Generally, this can be accomplished through three years of recent language study.

Host Family & Community

Although Switzerland is trilingual, nearly all AFSers are placed with German-speaking host families. Students are placed throughout Switzerland, though they are most frequently hosted in suburban areas (60%), rather than urban ones (20%).
Host families in Switzerland, like all AFS host families worldwide, are volunteers and are not paid. They open their homes to students in order to share their community and culture as well as to enrich their own family lives.

The Swiss

In Swiss culture, the nuclear family is the most important social unit, and they enjoy participating in many activities together during the weekend or visiting family or friends. To get around, Swiss rely on well-organised public transportation, but many also walk and bike. It is easy to get around, and cities are in most cases easily accessible.


During the week, high school students usually do not go out with friends because they have homework to do, but they are frequently involved with after-school sports, music lessons, and extracurricular clubs. During the weekends, Swiss teenagers enjoy participating in clubs or are involved in community activities such as village festivals, gymnastics meets, or historic celebrations.


Dinner is the main meal of the day and is an opportunity for the family to eat together, exchange views, and make plans. Swiss families tend to care about healthy foods. Swiss cuisine is mainly a union of French and German alpine cuisine. One famous dish is fondue, in which 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. When talking about the Swiss cuisine, one can’t forget to mention their chocolate, which is world-famous and beloved by all.

Host School

Swiss students are highly motivated and disciplined when it comes to academics. The Swiss school system is very competitive and a lot is expected of foreign students. Students cannot choose their subjects but have to take a given subject combination. Swiss schools don’t allow much social life, especially for the Swiss students.
There are seven compulsory core subjects:

• First national language
• Second national language
• Third national language, English or an ancient language (Latin or Greek)
• Mathematics
• Natural sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Physics)
• Humanities and social sciences (History, Geography, Economy and Law)
• Visual arts and/or music

In addition to those seven core subjects, pupils have to choose one in-depth subject (Greek, Latin, Italian, Spanish, English, Physics, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry) and one supplementary subject (Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics, History, Geography, Philosophy, Visual Arts, Physical Education, and Religion.

Even though most placements are in small towns or suburbs, cultural activities are always available, i.e. theatres, museums, music forums. Schools do not provide social activities. Students need to be strong in motivation and initiative to create activities outside of school.

Orientations & Activities

In addition to the orientations that you will participate in domestically, you and your fellow AFSers will have several orientations while abroad.

These required orientations are intended to help you maximise your AFS experience, prevent culture shock and to gain knowledge, skills and a global understanding.

Optional Activities

In addition to the orientations, many local chapters organise activities for students and host families throughout the year, such as the option of attending a weeklong camp, usually up in the mountains, where students participate in regional projects, usually dedicated to nature. These activities will vary from chapter to chapter but may include parties or excursions to other cities or regions in Switzerland. Unlike the orientations, these activities are optional and are at the student’s expense.

Eligibility Requirements

Inclusions: Placement with host family, Enrollment at a local high school for the duration of the program, International Airfare, Airfare Management, Visa guidance and advice (Visa application submission and cost is student’s responsibility), Domestic travel in your host country to your host family, Medical Insurance (Exclusions apply), 24/ 7 Worldwide support network, Arrival and departure orientations.

For more information on what’s included in the program, fee clicks here.

Visa Information: Please note that most year program destinations do require you to have a visa to participate in a school-based program. Visa costs and application timeframes vary by destination. Please make sure you budget up to an extra RM500-RM1000 for potential visa costs as this is not included in the program fee. AFS sends all visa information to participants upon acceptance to the program.

AFS programs are based on school and family life and note that tourist travel cannot be a priority.

Please note that for Austrian visa purposes you may be required to travel interstate to lodge your visa application. Associated costs with the visa are not included in the AFS program fee.

What's included in your experience

  • Airfare
  • Airport Pick-up
  • Host Family Placement
  • Meals
  • School Placement
  • Individual Contact Person
  • Medical Insurance
  • 24/7 Emergency Support
  • Domestic Transport
  • School Transport
  • Assistance with Application Process
  • Visa Application Assistance
  • Pre-Departure Orientation
  • Orientations during your time abroad
  • Re-entry Orientation
  • Teaching Materials
  • School Materials
  • Access to Alumni Network
  • Continuous Support

What you are responsible for

  • Vaccinations
  • Visa and Passport Fees
  • Grade Transcripts
  • School Diploma
  • Project Materials
  • Stipend