Quest Exchange in Switzerland

Switzerland is perhaps best known for the cheese, chocolate, and watches that bear the country’s name. The Swiss have a reputation for punctuality, dependability, and a hard-working nature. It is truly a country where everything runs like clockwork. It is also well known for its position of neutrality in international conflicts. As a country where diverse traditions and cultures meet and interact, Switzerland is considered to be a melting-pot in the heart of Europe. Although English isn’t an official language, it’s widely spoken and understood, especially in cities.

Switzerland is known as one of the cleanest countries in the world, thanks to its tidy, environmentally conscious inhabitants. Beautiful mountains, meadows, lakes, rivers, and waterfalls provide a scenic landscape waiting to be explored. Switzerland is a country of avid travelers, cosmopolitan citizens, and a diverse mix of cultures and backgrounds. On weekends, train stations are filled with people on their way to hike in the mountains or to go skiing and snowboarding. Other popular sports are soccer, ball games in general, swimming, biking, jogging, walking, and tennis.

Study in Switzerland where you can expect an intellectually and culturally immersive experience in a safe setting!

3 Fun Facts
  • Switzerland is home to 450 varieties of cheese, ranging from extra hard to soft, with crazy-hard-to-pronounce names like Sbrinz, Mutschli, Formaggini, and Tomme Vaudoise.
  • The Swiss eat more chocolate than any other nation in the world.
  • Swiss teenagers ranked first in Europe for math in the 2015 PISA survey and eighth in the world.
2018-2019 Program Pricing

Year

Mid Aug – Mid July
$12,250

Semester

Mid Aug – Late Dec
Early Jan – Mid July
$11,250

School Life

The Swiss school year runs from the middle of August to the middle of July. The Fall semester runs from mid-August to late December, while the Spring semester runs from early January to mid-July. There is a Christmas break in between the semesters. Exchange students are usually placed in local public high schools, which are called “Gymnasium” or “Mittelschule” in Switzerland. Classes usually start between 7:30 and 8:30am, finishing between 3:30 and 5:30pm. Similar to American schools, Swiss schools offer a group of core classes and a variety of electives that can include music, art, dance or extra foreign languages. There is a designated international student liaison who helps students manage their studies.

The typical teacher-student relationship in Switzerland is not as close as in some other countries. The teacher is viewed as a person you respect and not someone with whom you have a deep personal relationship. International students in Switzerland are treated as any other student in the school would be. They are expected to complete all assignments and exams and are given final grades. Sports are not widely practiced at high schools, but many different kinds of sports are offered on a local level.

Family Life

Students are placed in a variety of cultural settings, including big cities, suburbs, or small villages. Most host families live in rented apartments or houses. The main meal is eaten in the middle of the day, either together or at school. Swiss meals include potatoes, pasta, vegetable, salad, cheese and meat; but, international cuisine such as Italian, Asian and American food is also very popular. The meals are family gatherings during which every member shares details about their day. Swiss teenagers generally enjoy a lot of freedom but must abide by their curfews and inform their parents of where they are spending time. Children help with household chores and most Swiss teenagers are used to organizing their spare time on their own.

Program Extras

Additional optional trips are offered while studying in Switzerland. However, details vary by season and year, so please contact us for more information. These trips are not included in Quest program fees.

Program Requirements

Students must be between 15-18 years old. Students must not turn 19 before March 1st for the Fall semester and year programs and not before August 1st for the Spring semester program. Students must also still be enrolled in high school; they cannot have graduated.

Students must have at least 2 years of experience in the German language and be at the intermediate level upon arrival.

VISAS

For stays over 90 days, students will need a visa. Students and parents should research visa requirements through the Swiss consulate or embassy nearest to their home as soon as possible, as this is the most time-intensive component of the study abroad application process. It may take several weeks to obtain a Swiss visa. As the details of this process vary greatly by location, neither Quest nor our Swiss partner office can confirm the exact requirements. For this reason, Quest is not able to assist with legal visa documents. It is the student’s responsibility to research the current visa requirements and to obtain and submit the visa application.

Will students have access to Internet/WiFi at their home and school?

Yes, students will have access to WiFi at their home and school.

Can students bring their own cell phones?

Yes, if students have an unlocked cell phone, they could use their personal phone with a Swiss carrier/SIM card.

Can students travel without an adult chaperone if given permission?

This is determined by the Swiss partner agency on a case-by-case basis.

How much money should students have for spending money?

Students should budget around $300/month for personal expenses, which include entertainment, personal hygiene items, long-distance calls, etc. Additional money should be budgeted for start-up school expenses, such as books and supplies. These fees are in addition to Quest program fees.

What are some cultural norms that describe a typical host family in Switzerland?

Swiss families like to have dinner together and talk about their days. Other than that, some Swiss families may afford the student a great deal of independence, while others may expect the student to participate more extensively in family life. Some families may be very active or outdoorsy, while others may prefer to relax at home. Thus, students must be open-minded and ready to adapt to their new host family dynamics.

How are host families chosen?

Quest’s in-country partner is responsible for locating, screening and matching host families with our students. Host families go through a careful screening process, which typically involves in-person interviews, home inspections and references.

How do students apply for the visa and how long does it take?

For stays over 90 days, students will need a visa. Students and parents should research visa requirements through the Swiss consulate or embassy nearest to their home as soon as possible, as this is the most time-intensive component of the study abroad application process. It may take several weeks to obtain a Swiss visa. As the details of this process vary greatly by location, neither Quest nor our Swiss partner office can confirm the exact requirements. For this reason, Quest is not able to assist with legal visa documents. It is the student’s responsibility to research the current visa requirements and to obtain and submit the visa application.

How will the student get to and from school?

Students will generally walk, bike or take the public bus/train. Transportation fees are the student’s responsibility and are not included in Quest program fees.

Is it possible for students to get tutors during their program?

Yes, tutors are available, but our Swiss partner recommends working with classmates or host family first. Tutoring costs approximately $30/hour.

Can students receive an official document with grades and completed classes after finishing their program? 

Yes, exchange students in Switzerland can receive official documentation, including grades, but only if they are able to complete all assignments and exams. Obtaining this documentation is the student’s responsibility before s/he leaves Switzerland.

Do schools offer different sports/activities? 

Schools only offer around 2 hours/week doing various sports. Students usually participate in sports in clubs outside of school.

THINK IT OVER

The rewards of life abroad are amazing and wonderful, but are you up for the unique challenges that come with this experience? You will be away from your friends, family and the lifestyle you are accustomed to. You will have to adapt to a new language, culture, school and family. You will have to make decisions on your own and make new friends. Think about it and do some research on the country you want to study in. There is a wealth of information on the Internet that can better prepare you for your adventure!

GET YOUR PARENT/LEGAL GUARDIAN ON BOARD

Your parent(s) or guardian(s) need to help you make your dream happen. The application process takes time and effort, so it is important, at this stage, to make sure your parents support your decision to study abroad and have given you approval to move forward. If they feel that you are prepared and understand what’s required from them, you are ready to move to the next step.

CHECK IN WITH YOUR SCHOOL

You may receive credit from your program, but it is your responsibility to make this happen. Only your U.S. school can decide which credits you can receive. You must approach your guidance counselor to determine if you can get the credits you are hoping to receive. Bring Quest’s Academic Guide with you, and be certain of what you will be responsible for.

CONTACT QUEST FOR PROGRAM INFORMATION AND PAPERWORK

Fill out our online information request form in order to receive important program information from Quest via email. This email will contain Quest’s Program Agreement and Program Guidelines for your review and signature. Carefully review all of this information with your parents and contact Quest if you have any questions. We are here to help guide you through the process so you can make decisions that fit your needs.

CONFIRM PROGRAM DETAILS

The Quest Program Coordinator will confirm with you the program details submitted on your original request form. If you’re unsure of your destination, we’ll help you narrow down your choices to the country and program season that works for you. We will speak with your parents and make sure that everybody feels informed and ready to proceed with the decisions made.

CONFIRM PAYMENT DETAILS

You and your parents will receive the online Payment Agreement, which states the total program price for your selected destination country and Quest’s payment process. Your parents will receive an invoice for the application deposit, which is due before you submit your student application.

COMPLETE YOUR APPLICATION

Quest will send you a full student application for the program you have chosen. This application can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to complete. Make sure you give yourself ample time prior to the application deadline to complete the application and supplemental documents.

SKYPE INTERVIEW

This is when you get to meet your Quest Program Coordinator and talk face to (virtual) face. During the interview, the Program Coordinator will assess your suitability for the Quest Study Abroad program. This call lasts 30-60 minutes. Parents will speak with us at the end of the call, but the first part of the interview questions must be answered by the student alone. There is no preparation needed other than to talk about yourself, your desire to participate in the program and why you feel you are ready.

WAITING FOR ACCEPTANCE

Your Quest Program Coordinator will review your application and interview documentation to determine acceptance. Our team members put a lot of thought into the decisions they make, and not all students are accepted into the program. In order to make our decision, Quest must review complete and accurate application materials. We choose students who are emotionally, socially and academically prepared for the study abroad program. We look at each student’s level of maturity, independence and ability to adapt to life in a foreign country.

ACCEPTANCE AND INVOICE

You will receive a letter of acceptance from Quest via email. Your parents will receive an invoice outlining the total cost with only the first 50% of the total due within 10 days. The final 50% of the remaining program fees are due within 30 days of the invoice date.

GET LEGAL – VISA AND IMMIGRATION

This is a very important step in the process and can be very time-intensive. We suggest that you get started researching the requirements as soon as possible with the nearest embassy or consulate for your destination country, as requirements vary by location. Because the process does vary considerably, Quest and our foreign partner office are not able to assist with legal visa documents. It is the student’s responsibility to research the current visa requirements and to obtain and submit the visa application. Start filling out all of the paperwork well in advance, as visa approval can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to obtain.

SCHOOL AND HOST FAMILY PLACEMENT

This is the hardest part: waiting for your school and host family placement information! Making quality placements takes time, and we will need your patience during this important step. Quest will notify you and your parents of a confirmed placement in a school and then again when you are placed with your host family. Write to your host family as soon as possible to introduce yourself, and let them know how excited you are to meet them.

BOOK YOUR FLIGHT

Working together with you and your parents, Quest will confirm your arrival date and book your roundtrip international flight to your placement area. We will also book your student travel and medical insurance for your trip, so you can rest easier while abroad!

PRE-DEPARTURE ORIENTATION

Your Quest Program Coordinator will help you get prepped for your trip with a pre-departure orientation prior to your departure. You’ll receive an agenda before the call. We encourage you to write all of your remaining questions down so that we can make you and your parents feel prepared for your trip abroad. We will go over the program rules, what to pack, what to do if you need support once you arrive, and more!

LIVE YOUR STUDY ABROAD DREAM!

Congratulate yourself and your family for making this happen. You are on your way to the study abroad adventure that you’ve earned!

Balance your time abroad — keep in touch with those back home, but remember that the point of studying abroad is to be present and active in your host country. Keep a blog or an online photo album so you can show all of the revelations you have had and the sights you have seen. On a rainy day, you’ll be happy to reflect on your growing experience abroad. Stay in touch with Local Coordinators and with Quest. We’d love to hear how you are doing!

Programs Available
  • Year
  • Semester
Application Deadline
  • Year/Fall Semester: April 1st
  • Spring Semester: October 1st
Apply Now

Quest International, a nonprofit organization, promoting international cultural awareness and compassion by providing educational programs for American and International students to live and learn together.