Language Exchange

E. Fitzé

Languages are best learned in the countries where they are spoken – and when it comes to Slavic languages, there is quite a selection to choose from! Both departments (Bern and Fribourg) encourage students to spend one or more semesters of their studies in a Slavic-speaking country, and they maintain a variety of partnerships for this purpose.

Stays abroad (some students do more than one) do not mean an interruption of studies, even though it might serve as a reason for extending the period of study. To ensure that students receive credit towards their degree for most of their courses abroad, they must agree (with their home institution) on a Learning Agreement, or study contract. This is then confirmed again on-site during the stay abroad. Even if the main focus is on language acquisition and a deepened knowledge of a Slavic-speaking country, in the ideal case, students will also receive at least partial credit towards their degrees in Switzerland.

More information on exchange opportunities can be found under Details. Any questions? M. A. Aldona Rzitki (Bern) and Dr. Christian Zehnder (Freiburg) will be pleased to help you.

Erasmus makes everything easy: You apply for a place in the exchange program at either of the central offices (see below) and work out a study contract later in consultation with us. If you are accepted – and generally there are more places than applicants – you remain enrolled at your home university during your stay, continue to pay your tuition fees in Switzerland, and enjoy all the rights of a local student at the host university. You also receive a small scholarship to help cover expenses. Erasmus is an EU program in which Switzerland participates as a full member. The procedure is uniform throughout Europe, and quite unproblematic: you can find more information on the website of the International Office in Bern, or on the website of the Office for International Relations in Fribourg.

Registration deadlines for the following academic year (HS/FS) are 28 February (Fribourg) and 1 March (Bern).

Slavic Studies in Bern has Erasmus contracts with the following universities:

Bulgaria: St.-Kliment-Ohridski-Universität Sofia 
Poland: Universität Warschau, Jagiellonen-Universität Krakau
Czechia: Karls-Universität PragMasaryk-Universität BrünnPalacký-Universität Olmütz
Slovenia: Universität Ljubljana
Italy: Universität Macerata
Croatia: Universität Rijeka

Students of Slavic Studies in Fribourg can choose from the following universities as destinations for an Erasmus exchange:

Uniwersytet Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej (Lublin)
Katolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski Jana Pawla II (Lublin)
Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza (Poznań)
Uniwersytet Kardynała Stefana Wyszyńskiego (Warschau)

Siauliai University (Siauli)


Erasmus contracts are not possible with Russia and most other countries outside the EU; student exchanges with these countries are based on bilateral agreements. At present, both departments have a contract with Kazan University in the capital of the autonomous Russian Republic of Tatarstan. Applications for the autumn semester or an entire academic year must be submitted by 1 March, and for the spring semester by 1 October. Although exceptions are possible, it is advisable to inquire with the Slavic Studies department at an early stage, and not to wait until the last minute. The University of Kazan also offers a four-week language course for international students in August; the application deadline is 1 June.
In addition to the application forms, which can be found on the Kazan University website you will also need some additional documents, such as an informal letter of recommendation from a lecturer.

Since the autumn semester of 2012, a bilateral agreement has existed between the Faculty of Humanities in Bern and the Faculty of Philology of  Vysšaja škola ėkonomiki in Moscow. You can register directly through the international office; see details here. Registration deadlines are 15 January (for autumn semester) and 15 May (for spring semester). This exchange may also be open to students enrolled at Fribourg – please contact the department in Bern.

There is also a bilateral agreement with the University of Zagreb in Croatia.

The Rectors’ Conference of Swiss Higher Education Institutions, swissuniversities, administers foreign government scholarships for some 40 countries, including many Slavic-speaking countries (such as Croatia, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Czechia; see the current list here). Scholarship amounts, services, as well as application requirements are naturally very different depending on the country; for example, every year a Croatian government scholarship is reserved for students of our departments. Application deadlines can be found on the CRUS website or, if applicable, via email (in the event that we receive information directly from the CRUS).

If you are interested in a government scholarship, please contact the CRUS directly; Dr. Simeon Dekker (Bern) or Eliane Fitzé (Freiburg) are also happy to answer any questions. Please inform us if you apply directly.

In smaller countries there are sometimes also scholarships for language courses; for example the Slavic Studies department in Bern usually has two scholarships available at the Seminar Slovenskega Jezika, Literature in Kulture, which takes place every summer in Ljubljana. Learn Slovenian!

The Russian-language summer school will take place for the third time in Riga in summer 2024. The course is organized in collaboration with the universities of Fribourg, Lausanne and Basel. Not only will you attend courses, there is also a rich cultural program on different topics with a special focus on the four regions of Latvia. You will not be missing leisure activities of course.

You will find more information here and if you have any further questions, please contact the Russian-language teacher Natalia Dominguez Sapien.

Some impressions of past Summer Courses in Riga can be found here.

Learn Albanian in Pristina

In August 2023, an Albanian language course was organised in Pristina. It consisted of an international seminar on Albanian language, literature and culture, as well as an intensive language course, lessons on Albanian linguistics and literature and further activities related to culture in Kosovo. You can find further information on this programme here.

Learn Serbian in Belgrade

Every summer, an intensive Serbian language course is organised in Belgrade. The course consists of theoretical (grammar) and practical (oral) parts. Apart from the course programme, you have the possibility to go on excursions. You can find further information here.

And here you can find some pictures of the excursion to Belgrade in summer 2023, organised as a part of the BCMS course by Mrs. Deana Antić.