A Look Back: Pension Family Living

Class of 1961
What is it like to enter a home four thousand miles away and stay for an entire year? How does one make out in a pension, and how different is it from home? How are you treated by the family you are sent to live with?
This year, the eighty-three Junior College students were in forty-one separate homes, and there would be forty-one answers to each of the above questions.  Each pension is different, and yet each is the same in many respects.  Each has been chosen with care and has played host to more than one year of Canadians.  As a result, all of us were pleasantly surprised at the warm reception we received. 
The following are some students’ comments on their Neuchâtel homes:
“Madame has treated me as another child of her own.”
“My people are so interested in what we Canadians do.”
“Only in a pension can one get to know the Swiss.”
“I would not trade my room with its view for a suite in the Empress.”
“I learned more French in my first week than in four years of High School.”
“What more could I ask than to be treated as a member of the family?”
“Imagine! Sending Christmas cards all the way to my parents.”
“Table manners are different in every country.”
“Now that we have been enumerated in a Swiss census, we are real Neuchâtel citizens.”
“Madame sends Christmas gifts to the four others who have stayed with her.”
“Monsieur is the only one in Neuchâtel who really understands how important my mail is to me.”
“Our only complaints are petty, and shrink into insignificance when we consider how we would treat strangers in our homes.”
“Our living in homes rather than in hotels is the main thing separating us from mere long-staying tourists.”
“I will go home knowing the Swiss outlook on so many things.”
“How shy we were at first! Now we enter into general conversation as equals.”
“Will my French teacher at home be surprised at my improved accent!”
“We were even asked our opinion as to what type of new car Monsieur should buy.”
“Madame runs the kitchen, and little else. What a change from North America!”
“Swiss food is different, but wholesome and easy to become accustomed to.”
“When I think of the white, soft substance Canadians call bread…”
“Madame gave me a surprise birthday party, complete with a seventeen-candle cake.”
And so the comments run.  Problems have arisen, conflicts have appeared, but yet nothing has happened that could not be easily solved.  Adjustments have been necessary to conform to a new mode of life, but that has been half the fun of coming.  “Unless one has come prepared to accept changes, one does not belong here,” we were told, and, much to our surprise, few changes have been necessary that were not most welcome alterations to our rushed North American way of life.
Neuchâtel Junior College offers the unique opportunity to study Canadian curriculum abroad. While living in Switzerland in a French community, students enjoy an international education through travel and experiential learning in Europe. Gap year and Grade 12  high school students gain international experience and develop independence and life skills that prepare them for university and the global workplace.

A Canadian high school in Switzerland | Grade 12 & Gap