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Old 13.02.2011, 04:39
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Hello, everyone, I'm HB-IQP and I'M from Canada. I have found this website by looking for some Swiss German pages on I-Net.
Switzerland is my favorite country along with Iceland. I have been many times in Switzerland and know some places very well. For this reason, I will maybe do an exchange there next year.
My university gives me the choice between Geneva, Lausanne or Fribourg in Switzerland, which is quite disappointing because I was really hoping to go to Switzerland (Zürich or Bern) in order to both enjoy the life over there and also improve my German and Swiss German.

I thought Universität Fribourg would be the best choice, given that it is close to the german-speaking part area and I will study half in French, half in German.

But out of the university are there any chances I can practice German and Swiss-German in the city? How strong is German/ Swiss-German in the city vs. French?

Any feedback would be kindly appreciated.
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Old 13.02.2011, 09:48
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Re: Hi/Bonjour/Grüezi!

I live 15 mins. from the city, but in a German speaking village (although drive 5 mins. to the next village and it's already French speaking).
I have found it easier to pick up German, than French, as its structure is more comparable to English - and despite having done French for 6 years (school/college), many moons ago. Also the need to speak German on a daily basis (more so than French, as I don't have cause to venture into the city more than about once a week on average), has helped.

I have been reliably informed, that native French speakers find it more difficult to learn German as vice-versa, and even when they have a working knowledge of it, are still reluctant to use it in fear of making mistakes [if I thought the same, I'd never talk to anyone]. Therefore they always expect German speakers to speak French and many almost refuse to speak German - unfortunately the populace willingly oblige and adhere to this "rule" and the situation is slow to change.

I initially, on my visits to Fribourg, used to ask "parlez-vous allemand?", which was always greeted with a "non". Now I just start to talk in German, and either I get a blank look and shrug of the shoulders, or a reply in the same language. More speak German than would care to admit it.

Depending on where you are from in Canada, if you have a knowledge of French, than you'll be fine in Fribourg. But to learn German, you'll need to take formal lessons, and make frequent trips to Bern to practice (less than 30 mins. by train).

However Fribourg University is reputed to be very good and held in high regard. Out of the three you've given, it could well be your best bet.
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Old 14.02.2011, 22:19
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Re: Hi/Bonjour/Grüezi!

Thank you for your feedback, I already speak French as it is my native language, but I thought I would have had opportunities in the city itself to practice German. Anyhow, Switzerland is a small country and I will try to travel as often as I can to the german-speaking part in order to practice and take lots of German classes. Are there also classes of swiss-german offered in Freiburg?
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Old 15.02.2011, 00:03
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Re: Hi/Bonjour/Grüezi!

I've lived in the city about 18months now and work in a local student bar. On any given night the majority will be speaking french but there are also quite a lot of german speakers.

Most of the swiss romand students that I know have no problems speaking german (though to what level exactly I couldn't tell you as my german is very iffy once you get to anything more complicated than the price of a certain beer). They prefer to speak in their native tongue but have never met anyone who "refused" to speak german. There are also quite a few who did german in school and indeed had problems with it and their level therefore is not up to really speaking german on a regular basis so I guess in most groups with french and german speakers the default will be french.

The city I believe has a 70%-30% speaker base in favour of french (and the gap is growing every year). Though as Timow has stated, surrounding the city there are plenty of german (and of course french) speaking villages. German if you head in the general direction of Bern and French in direction of Lausanne/neuchatel.

Of the three universities you mentioned the university of Fribourg (i'm 80% sure) is the only one with a german speaking programme where students either have to do both german/french (up to the lecturer) or if the chosen subject is large enough will offer the course in both languages.

As a student in the city (though not going to the local university), I'm happy to answer any questions you might have.

EDIT: ..and welcome to the forum
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