High School Study Abroad Program choices

AFS- Me with my Spanish host sisters (in AFS gear).

I want to preface this post by saying that I have lived abroad in many different settings; high school, college, and professional levels. This post is only about study abroad programs for high school students; focusing on year-long programs. I personally find a year’s time to be the best possible option, as it allows for the ups and downs of life and the difficulties of a cultural experience, while giving you time to grow relationships that will last you for life.

There are three programs with which I am most familiar, either because I or family members have been involved in the program on one level or another. They are; AFS Intercultural, Rotary Exchange, and ASPECT foundation. As a result I may be able to offer more information about these programs than others; and I also may have preconceived notions that may not be totally accurate so I encourage you to please chime in and give your thoughts and experiences!

1. AFS Intercultural Programs
AFS exchanges students from 50 different countries and place you with a host family. The host family is responsible for taking care of you. Each family environment is different so this is a good way to experience the culture through one specific environment.

2. Rotary Youth Exchange
Because Rotary Youth Exchange is all done through Rotary International there is a ready-made support system in being a part of that group/club. The biggest difference with the Rotary Youth Exchange program is that you will change families during your stay. This gives you an opportunity to see the culture through many different “lenses”, in the form of families, but it also means packing up and moving semi-frequently (appx. every 3 months). Numerous Rotary Clubs have scholarships set up that could help with the expense of airfare.

3. ASPECT FOUNDATION
This program is a great program for students outside of the USA that want an opportunity to study in the US. It’s a great program for those hoping to study in a high school setting within the US.

4. AYUSA Study Abroad
AYUSA has been around for 30 years and goes to a select number of countries, including China, Japan and several Spanish speaking countries and many more.

Cost is a big consideration- I didn’t want to say one was a more cost effective option than another, as each country’s cost is completely different. All of the websites have very good break-downs of costs associated with specific country travel.

There are so many different programs and choices. This is a great website for finding even more of the study abroad companies that are out there.

What are your experiences and thoughts?

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