Faculty of Education

Faculty of Education
Faculty of Education

Student Experiences: Exchange Student

January 4, 2018 

Alexandra with friends on Student Street

I am an exchange student from Switzerland (Zurich) and was at Queen’s Faculty of Education for this Fall term. You may have seen me in the hallway or in your class. I am going to be a Primary Teacher (Grade 1-6) in Switzerland and I am now in my final year. I decided to come to Canada to improve my English, to see another education system and to get the chance to travel in Canada.

What Switzerland's Education System is Like 

The education system in Switzerland is different than your system. In Switzerland, we have four main subjects every Primary School teacher must teach and an additional choice of elective subjects (we choose 3). The main subjects are: German, Mathematics, English, and Human & Environment. The six additional subjects are: Arts, Textile handicraft, Mechanical handicraft, French, Gym, and Music. Children in Switzerland attend Kindergarten for two years and Elementary school from Grade 1-6. At the age of 12/13 they attend secondary school for three years. After two years of kindergarten and nine years of school they get the choice to do an apprenticeship (three or four years) or to attend the Gymnasium for four or six years (which prepares them for University). By the age of 19 or 20, most adolescents either start at University or begin their career.

My Kingston Experience

When I arrived in September, I was happy about the nice weather I encountered. I often went jogging and found a favourite place near Lake Ontario Park.

I met Shayla on my first day of school at Queen’s. She was my “buddy” - showing me around the campus and to introducing me to the Canadian Education System. We became friends and spent a lot of time together. She was the one with whom I ate my first and my last Timbits (I will really miss Timbits!).

I also spent a lot of time with my roommates, who are also exchange students but on main campus. We went to Montréal on Thanksgiving. I have never celebrated Thanksgiving before and I was happy to have the chance to experience a traditional Thanksgiving in Canada.

On some of the other weekends Shayla and I went to her parents house close to Toronto. She showed me around Toronto and the Niagara Falls and I was impressed about those stunning places.

I also met and talked to a lot of nice and friendly people in my classes! Thanks for those unforgettable encounters and the great discussions we had!

After 3 ½ months in Kingston, it was time to head home. But one week before I left my colleague, which is in IS and from the same faculty as I am, and me had a meeting with four B.Ed. students from Queen's who are going to have their Alt Prac in Zurich. I enjoyed our discussion about my hometown and the Education System in Switzerland, and I am sure they won’t regret choosing Zurich!

I wish you all the very best and hope to see you again,