Switzerland

The variety of regional traditions within the borders of the country defines the national identity of Switzerland.

There are few very national customs in Switzerland. The Swiss believe it is the variety of regional traditions within the borders of the country that defines their national identity.

Although Switzerland is small geographically, there are four national languages and many regional dialects. You could drive less than an hour within the country’s borders and find that the language sounds completely different. Some of this can be attributed to the distinct cultural differences and identities between regions.

One thing that’s true throughout Switzerland is that housing is expensive; only about a third of the Swiss own a house. Your student might have grown up in an apartment or townhouse-style housing, and this could influence his or her perspective on privacy.

In terms of table manners, the Swiss generally follow the same etiquette as much of Europe. You may notice your student placing both of his/her forearms or elbows on the table. This is considered polite in most of Europe and is not meant to be disrespectful or rude.

Your student might not be used to how often people in the U.S. eat out. In Switzerland, restaurants are quite expensive, and grocery shopping is very affordable, so the Swiss typically eat at home.

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  • Capital: Bern
  • Population: 7,996,026
  • Area: 41,277 sq. km. (slightly less than twice the size of New Jersey)
  • Nationality: Swiss (singular and plural)
  • Language: German, French, Italian, Romansch
  • Climate: temperate, but varies with altitude; cold, cloudy, rainy/snowy winters; cool to warm, cloudy, humid summers with occasional showers
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