Switzerland is a mountainous Central European country - home to numerous lakes, villages, and the high peaks of the Alps. Needless to say, variety in a small space defines Switzerland. Four national languages (French, Romansh, German, and Italian) are spoken in addition to numerous dialects. The country is also known for its ski resorts and hiking trails. Banking and finance are key industries and Swiss watches and chocolate are world renowned.
There is also a distinction between the culture in the mountains and the culture on the central plateau, while life in a mountain valley is different from that in the big city. However, no matter whether there is dancing taking place or not, Swiss folk music is mainly considered dance music.
As summer approaches, thousands of herdsmen and women move their cows, cattle, sheep, and goats up the mountains to where life depends entirely nature’s rhythms. Until the 18th century, the production of Alpine cheese in the summer enabled people to preserve milk and stockpile it for the long winter months. The practice is still continued today with most of the cheese produced by hand, ending in "Chästeilet." Alpine farming has given birth to various customs such as the festive processions up into the Alps in late spring and down from the mountains in the fall.
What to Expect
IFYEs will arrive in Bern and spend a couple of days there before going to host families. Traveling to host families via train, participants will have homestays in 3-4 diverse and rural-based families.
IFYEs at Work and Play