Fondue, translation services and laundry: Gaurav enjoys the benefits of staying with locals.
Leaving home is never easy and moving out of your country is even harder. My family was worried about whether I’d find a place I was comfortable in. So, I began my search for a room even before coming to Switzerland. In Neuchâtel, Alfenexternal link, a non-profit company, provides student housing. The accommodation offered is ideal as it is within walking distance from the university and is pretty affordable compared to other options on the housing market. Unfortunately, Alfen had no vacant rooms available at the time and I was forced to look for other alternatives.
Fortunately, in Neuchâtel there are many private homes that provide rooms on a paying guest basis, especially for international students. I found a family who had a room available. The house was in a village called Montezillon, about 20 minutes from the university by train. I chose the place as it was not too expensive. Coming from a big city like Delhi, I thought that a 20-minute commute was no bother. The house itself was nice. It was in a silent neighborhood and I was able to study at home without much noise and distractions.
The Monnier family – husband, wife and three daughters - were also very nice and kind. Only the women were able to speak English. It was a new experience for me because I had never lived outside my home before, but I felt at home with the family. I was free to use anything in the house, including their kitchen and their laptop (handy when I was waiting for my new laptop to arrive). Also, I did not have to worry about laundry as they did it for me. As I was “null” in French, the mother helped me in translating some documents.
There were three cats in the house. Whenever the family went on holidays, I fed the cats and had to let them out of the house. I was also sometimes invited to dinner, where I tried Swiss dishes like fondue, raclette, and crepes for the first time. The family even invited me for Christmas dinner, which was an amazing experience for me.
Even though I was not able to spend much time with the family - due to my studies and my limited French - I truly enjoyed my stay with them.
For more blog posts and information on studying in Switzerland visit our dedicated page Education Swiss Madeexternal link.