Living in a home-stay has allowed me to see, and love, parts of Switzerland that I would never have encountered on a typical visit.
Rick Steves has some pretty extensive travel books, but he’ll never talk about that one forest service road that ends abruptly in a hillside cow pasture about 20 minutes outside Nyon or the nice old buildings covered in ivy that neighbor Azier’s commune office. And why would he? If you’re only in a country, in this case Switzerland, for a short bit, why would you spend a good chunk of a day and almost 40 CHFs in transportation from Geneva to see an old ‘trail’ and mostly typical group of buildings when you could be floating the Aare in Bern, eating fondue under the Matterhorn, or visiting some of the world’s finest watch shops in Zurich. Arzier just wouldn’t make sense.
It didn’t even make sense to the kids living there. “Why would you come to some random mountain town from America?” The answer is I didn’t really choose to come to Arzier, I chose to study in Nyon/Geneva and my housing just happened to be in Arzier. But thats the thing about home-stays, you don’t choose where you live, and as they are typically located in suburban or rural areas (at least in Switzerland), they are pretty much guaranteed to be places you would never visit on a normal trip. I definitely never would have ended up in Arzier–never run the old hiking paths and logging roads and never passed the old ivy covered buildings on my way to the train–but now that I’ve spent the past couple months here, I couldn’t imagine Switzerland without it.