Bern is the de facto capital of Switzerland, but is only the fourth largest city according to population (141’000 inhabitants, 660’000 within the metropolitan area). Although it’s lacking size in international comparison, it is a lively city with lots of scenic views and areas. It is located around a river bend with a beautiful medieval downtown, dating back as far as to 1191.
Furthermore, the Alps are but an hour drive away, which places the city in ideal range for both summer and winter outings for more challenging hikes or skiing. During Summer, several places along the river invite for a swim or a barbeque. Numerous restaurants, cafés and bars satisfy every culinary taste. The surrounding area, particularly the Gurten, the “Hausberg” of Bern, offers ample opportunity for out-door activities such as hiking or cycling, even downhill racing. The Gurten is also home of one of the most renowned festivals in Switzerland, usually taking place in July. During the winter and the cooler seasons theatres, cinemas, museums, clubs and bars present attractive alternatives. Those who enjoy skiing, snowboarding and other winter sports are also within an hour or two of beautiful snow-covered mountains. The famous Eiger north face is just a two hour ride away.
Even though 71% (Census of 2000) of the population are still formal member of the state churches (Catholic or Reformed state church), these figures do not reflect the church attendance rate or the rate of believers. Only about 2-3% of the Swiss claim to follow Jesus. Most Swiss have never truly heard the gospel and had only a few encounters with born again Christians.
The current Cru ministry in Switzerland has a full-time team at the main universities. Studying here will provide you countless opportunities to start friendships with Swiss and international students. You could be the first Christian of your Swiss friends!
The University of Bern is the third biggest university in Switzerland, offering a wide range of programs at some 160 Institutes and a lot of interdisciplinary centres.
You can come on an exchange program or you can come as a visiting student. Check with your home university if it has a bilateral exchange agreement the University of Bern. In addition to this, there is the Swiss-European Mobility Program (Erasmus) and the ISEP (International Student Exchange Program).
In general you may come to a university for one to two semesters, and it is possible to start in either the fall or the spring semester. Fall terms typically run mid-September through mid-December, and spring terms late February through late May. You may also apply for a full Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree.
You will be working with a local Swiss team of Cru staff members and key student volunteers to help grow and expand the ministry. A part of your ministry will be building intentional relationships, searching for key volunteers and weekly meetings/gatherings. There will also be opportunities to be involved in ministry training and personal development. Cru evening events in Bern are usually held on Thursdays.
There’s a limited number of furnished single rooms rented out to students by a number of companies. But usually campus housing is not available on Swiss universities. Have a look at living in Bern for further information and additional links. In general, ISEP takes full care of getting you accommodated.
Your personal ministry will be in English as most students speak it well enough to have meaningful spiritual conversations. Most Master’s degree programs are in English or courses in English are at least available. The Bachelor’s degree programs usually begin in German. In the second and third years of the Bachelor’s programs, some of the courses may take place in English.
The semester fees amount to CHF 600-800, but there are also living costs to consider too. It is estimated that students spend CHF 16,000 to CHF 26,000 on study and living costs each year.