Teens and young adults who are interested in other countries and cultures often ask the question, “How can I find a student exchange program?” Finding a student exchange that fits your needs is easier than you think as there are many viable programs that help high school and university students live and study in another country.
Start With Your School
Whether you are in high school or college, start with your own school. Many schools have exchange programs already in place. High school programs typically occur through foreign language departments to help foster speaking and understanding of language studies. If your high school does not have a dedicated exchange program, contact your counselor who may have access to resources to help. Many colleges and universities also have dedicated programs where their students can spend time studying abroad. School programs make it easy for students to go abroad because these schools have standing agreements with schools in foreign countries. Attend informational sessions or contact your advisor to jumpstart the process if you’re interested.
See our ranking of 30 Affordable Colleges with the Best Study Abroad Programs.
What If My School’s Program Doesn’t Fit My Needs?
Plenty of student exchange programs exist, with many helping to place you with a specialized area of study or in a country where your school may not have a standing agreement. One of the most famous programs, according to Trip Savvy, is run by Rotary Club International, which began helping students study abroad in 1927. Other well-established exchange program organizations are AIFS (American Institute for Foreign Study), American Council for International Exchange (ACIS0, American Scandinavian Student Exchange (ASSE), AYUSA, Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE), Cultural Homestay International (CHI) and The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IASTE). IASTE is particularly interesting as it helps place students studying for technical degrees in training-related jobs in other countries. Pay attention to requirements as AYUSA only accepts students ages 15 to 18, while IASTE does not accept high school or graduate students.
Programs Available Through the United States Government
The U.S. Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs has a search engine where high school, university undergraduate and graduate students can find exchange programs. Working professionals such s teachers, researchers, journalists and other interested individuals can also find an exchange program through this tool. The Bureau also allows you to search for programs alphabetically or by special interest. Focus areas include programs for arts and culture, technology and youth.
How Long Does a Typical Program Last?
The length of time studying abroad depends on the program chosen. Many high schools offer reciprocal language programs where students host a foreign student for approximately two weeks in their own homes and then travel to live with the family of the student they hosted for the same length of time. High school exchange programs generally last five or 10 months. On the university level, students can study abroad for a summer term of one or two months, a semester or an entire school year.
Finding a student exchange program is a relatively easy process as there are many established, reputable organizations who will help you achieve your dream of living and studying in another country.