A couple months ago I started a sister-blog to chronicle my experiences and post pictures from an exchange program I am involved in in which a junior in high school from Switzerland stays with my family for three weeks and then I go to Zurich for three weeks.
Patrice, the student from Zurich, arrived three weeks ago and left this evening after celebrating Thanksgiving with my family. More details and pictures are at my Zurich Exchange blog, but I learned some interesting things during his stay.
1. Switzerland is not very different from America. Other than the four official languages, much involving politics, culture, and adolescence is the same. This is not to say there are no differences or to try to homogenize two distinct peoples, but I never expected my mindset, opinions, or questions about life to be so similar.
2. Their approach to education is much different. They have longer school days and virtually no homework. This is compared to the US private high school education of shorter school days and hours and hours of homework.
3. The Swiss kids knew more about American culture than I did. They knew more movie stars, more music bands, and the like.
4. Europeans close the door to bathrooms even when no one is in there!?
5. I will generalize and say most European teens like heavy metal, punk music. Yuck.
In the New Year I will start thinking about my trip to Zurich in the beginning of June. I’ll be taking classes in English at their school but I’d like to travel a bit to the surrounding countries of Italy, Germany, or France. If you have any ideas or experiences please share.