When you’re curious about traveling the world, it’s natural to feel excited…and not altogether prepared. Check out these words of wisdom from AFSers who’ve been there!

For Students

Real AFS Returnees give some advice on how to make the best of your time abroad!

1. “Open your heart, open your mind, and you will gain a world of wisdom and love from your host family and friends. One short summer in 1965 changed my life! I have a Brazilian family that has been in my life for over 50 years now.” — Judy Hagar Schons, AFS Exchange Student to Brazil, summer 1965

2. “Enjoy every moment! Take advantage of every opportunity! Try new foods! Learn the history and culture of your host country. Limit your contact with your own family: allow yourself to be totally immersed into your host family and new home. Keep a journal! Take lots of pictures! Savor every moment!” — Beth Morgan, AFS Exchange Student to Brazil, 1982

3. “Don’t assume anything. ‘Common sense’ is often based on cultural expectations and if the culture is different then the expected behavior or common sense will be different.” — Susan Hoyler, AFS Exchange Student to Japan, 1980

4. “I could go on for hours about the positive impact this experience will provide you. To keep it simple…do whatever you can to integrate into the local culture and become a member of your host family. Make local friends. Force yourself to learn the local language quickly. Become a son or daughter, brother or sister for your local host family.” — Joshua Meyer, AFS Exchange Student to Costa Rica, 1993

5. “Make friends and enjoy the time you spend in new cultures. Not only will these experiences last a lifetime, but these years are the most important foundation of the adult and world citizen you will become. We need a world with global citizens who understand cross-cultural (and very human) values. Enjoy it all.” — Majorie Snipes, AFS Exchange Student to Peru, 1980

6. “Spend the vast majority of your time connected to the people around you. Try every new thing offered and look for new experiences. Remember that every experience, good or bad, is a chance to learn and grow.” — Robbin Lang, AFS Exchange Student to Finland, summer 1965

7. “Immerse yourself in the language and culture. Accept your host family as your family. Much will seem strange to you in the beginning, but by the time you return home, what was strange will seem normal, and what you come back to will seem strange! Your host family will be your family for the rest of your life. I still communicate with my host brothers, sister, and mother to this day, if not daily, close to it… and I’m now 58 years old! Let go of your inhibitions, and join in. You won’t regret it!” — Geoff Crooks, AFS Exchange Student to Brazil, 1976

Find out how you can have the adventure of a life-time by studying abroad with AFS here.

For Parents

Advice for parents who are committed to fostering intercultural learning opportunities for their children.

8. “To the parents of students abroad or parents considering sending their kids abroad with AFS: it was for us a fantastic experience that is difficult to put it into words. AFS chooses families in an extremely careful way. They really look into every detail and my sons were cared for superbly. Going abroad with AFS is an experience that will benefit the kids for life. It is an opportunity that is second to none. They learn languages, independence, culture, make life-long friends and they become part of a family. It is an amazing chance to learn things that cannot be acquired at their regular schools in their home towns. It’s just worth it.” — Carlos Ossorio, parent of 3 AFS Exchange Students to Japan

9. “Let your student spread their wings! The experience taught [my son] so much. How much we are the same/how to respect the cultural differences/how to earn trust/love of language. He also made lifelong friends worldwide with fellow AFSers.” — Patti Pronschinske, parent of an AFS Exchange Student to Panama

If your son or daughter is interested in going abroad, you can explore all the different programs AFS-USA has to offer here.