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Swiss Exchange

Sheila Thomas —

There are many options available for students of languages including a language exchange programme with Switzerland.

In Term 3, we welcomed two Swiss students into Year 12 for seven weeks. These French-speaking boys stayed with Yannick Miller and Lucas Cummings and their very supportive and welcoming families, with a view to improving their (already good) spoken English and getting to know something about life, culture and schooling in New Zealand. They loved their time here and forged good friendships with the Miller and Cummings families.

Obviously, an exchange requires reciprocity, so soon after completing their Level 2 NCEA exams, our two Year 12 French students, Yannick and Lucas, travelled to Switzerland for their turn to experience total immersion into a new country and culture. Both boys returned with greatly improved spoken French, thoroughly satisfied with their visit. On both sides, the families involved were exceptionally welcoming: the Swiss boys here and our Kiwis in Switzerland were treated to many outings and excursions and were able to gain an insight into a different way of life. This exchange has, I believe, shown the real value of studying a foreign language – it’s not only about grammar and conjugations, vocab tests and spelling difficulties! It is of course a doorway out of our geographical isolation into broader horizons and an understanding of other cultures. See for yourselves what the boys have to say!

From Lucas Cummings

The Switzerland exchange was definitely the best experience of my life. I was staying in Geneva for the exchange, but travelled to many other places in Europe during the time I was there, like Rome, Berlin, Verdun, Bern and Sion where Yannick was staying. 

I definitely feel as though my french has improved since the exchange and I am more confident in speaking, not only in french but also just in general. 

I am definitely planning on returning to Switzerland and Europe when I can as it was such an amazing experience. My favourite aspect of the exchange was not so much the sightseeing (despite it being incredible), but it was more so just getting used to living like a normal student in Geneva.

From Yannick Miller

Going to a country where my first language isn’t used on a daily basis definitely made me a bit nervous at first, but as soon as I landed in Switzerland, everyone said my level of French was very good - even fluent. This gave me a lot of confidence and resulted in an amazing experience. Staying with a Swiss family gave me an inside look on life over there, which reminded me of life in my own country, Poland. As a rule the Swiss eat a lot of dairy products with their specialities of fondue and raclette being highlights of the local cuisine. It was nice to have known Cyril already as he had spent seven weeks here and I was so lucky to strike him and his family. I would not have changed anything about my time there and hope to go back soon.