Switzerland is known for its chocolate, cheese, watches, Army knives, and banking, but there is so much more to Swiss culture. When you study abroad in Switzerland, you will gain a greater understanding of Swiss culture by interacting with the people, eating the food, learning the history, and speaking the language.
Switzerland’s citizens speak four main languages in different regions of the country: German, French, Italian, and Romansh. Traveling through these regions, you will see distinct cultural and historical differences that exist to this day. Your home base in Riva San Vitale, in the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland, is different from the German-speaking portion of the country. Despite its diversity, Switzerland strives to be a country of unity. We encourage you to explore Switzerland during your study abroad program and experience its diversity for yourself!
In general, the Swiss are considerate and appreciate their country’s cleanliness, efficiency, and safety. At first, the Swiss can seem reserved and tend to adhere to unwritten social rules about how to behave in daily life. This may make it difficult to adjust at first, but if you take the time to observe, you will get the hang of it.
Like many other Europeans, the Swiss will appreciate you attempting to use their native language to communicate. Many Swiss speak English, but it’s better not to assume that every Swiss person you meet speaks English. Learn a few key phrases in German and French if your travels take you to those regions in Switzerland. Around Riva San Vitale, you can always greet passerby with a friendly “Buongiorno,” and practice what you’re learning in Italian class.
We recommend you do some research about Switzerland and Swiss culture before you go. Here are some resources.