Exchange Student Program
Switzerland has everything. It
has mountains, lakes, and snow, of course, but also castles,
fondue, wild ibex, and probably one of the most honorable
collections of human beings on the globe.
With standards as high as their snow-tipped Alps, the Swiss
command a special mandate on quality. It's a neat, sophisticated
little nation where cleanliness is not only next to godliness,
but sometimes seems to be a notch above it. The cities are
perfection itself, and even the humblest farmhouses in the
back-of-beyond are bowered with carefully pruned vines and
bedecked with bright flower boxes. Fields are so well groomed
you'd think they were primping for a calendar photographer.
More than 60 percent of the nation is alpine, peaking at
over 4,572 meters (15,000 feet) atop the glorious glacier-clad
Dufourspitze in the Monte Rosa chain, only a few hours from
downtown Geneva. The average height of those Helvetian mountains
is well over a mile above sea level. Between the Alps and
the Jura in the northwest lie the central plains of wildflowers
and economic bliss—the powerhouse zone of Swiss industry
that has made it one of the richest countries on Earth.
But while it is the home of international banking, the repository
of wealth, and the soul of stability, Switzerland need not
be expensive. It suffers somewhat from an exaggerated press
that has often focused on the luminaries who relax in Gstaad,
St. Moritz, or those who confer with their gnomes at Zurich
banks and visit their trust funds in cool green vaults.
In fact, there are scores of value-plus boardinghouses,
hotels, and inns where the sheets are crisp and sparkling,
and where the breakfast trays are heaped with croissants
and buttered rolls, hot coffee, and fruits from the abundant
Swiss orchards—at prices that are astonishingly low.
It's not uncommon for students to go skiing, or go to see
a glittering palatial buildings.
Summer bristles with folk fairs, music and film fests, jazz
concerts, cultural exhibits, and a multitude of gala events
in historic, idyllic settings. In the mellow fall, the grape
harvests provoke colorful wine festivals and seasonal celebration