Culture Quests

Switzerland

Europe
Capital: Bern
Languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansch are all national and official languages
Useful links: Kids Culture Corner: Switzerland | CIA World Factbook

The following information is generalized and compiled from questions posed to the agents and interviewers in Switzerland. Although au pairs from this country may or may not have had these experiences/beliefs, Au Pair in America wishes to share this general information with our families.

Au Pairs in General

  • The idea of being an au pair is common in Switzerland
  • Applicants from Switzerland are motivated by a love of children and a desire to learn English to a high standard
  • The job potential of an au pair improves upon her return to Switzerland
  • Applicants do not have difficulty affording the program fees
  • Young people in Switzerland have the freedom of their family to socialize and date
  • Curfews are not common on girls over age 18
  • Young women are accustomed to sharing in household chores
  • Nudity is not common
  • The Swiss are seen as punctual, precise, and friendly

Child Care Practices

  • Common discipline techniques include verbal correction and loss of privileges
  • Physical discipline is not common in Switzerland
  • Applicants obtain childcare experience through formal schooling, babysitting and caring for younger family members
  • Usually both parents share the childrearing responsibilities
  • When children are small, usually the mother stays home or only works for a few hours per week. When the children start school, mothers generally work more and she might get back to a full-time job when they are 12 years old.

Driving Skills

  • Most applicants obtain their driving license by age 18
  • A driving license is not difficult to obtain
  • The steps involved in obtaining a driving license in Switzerland include:
    • Eye Exam
    • Theoretical written test
    • Practical test
    • Fees
    • First Aid Course
  • The International driving permit is available
  • Applicants typically take formal driving lessons and practice driving using their parents’ car, applicants over age 22 may have their own car
  • Most cars have manual transmissions

English Language Skills

  • English is a compulsory subject in Switzerland
  • Classes focus on oral and written skills

Education

  • Approximately 50% of young women continue their studies at university
  • Those who do not attend university do apprenticeships
  • The academic year in Switzerland starts in September and ends in late-June or early-July
  • The educational opportunities of the Au Pair in America program  are important  to applicants

Health

  • The most common inoculations are diphtheria, tetanus, polio, whooping cough and measles, mumps, rubella
  • Switzerland does not have a free health service, but has health insurance
  • Most young women visit the dentist on a regular basis
  • “Eating disorders” are not common, but do occur

Diet

  • Most young people in Switzerland eat meat
  • Vegetarianism is becoming  common 

Religion

  • The most common religions in Switzerland are Catholic and Protestant
  • Most young people in Switzerland do not practice their religion regularly

Telephone & Internet

  • Most homes have a telephone and a computer with access to the Internet
  • Family members may not be able to take a message in English from a potential host family

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