It can be hard to decide when, where, and how long to study abroad in high school. With 120 programs in more than 45 different countries, it can seem daunting to pick the one that’s right for you. Don’t worry – we’re here to help! Ask yourself the following questions to find a high school study abroad experience that fits your specific interests, time frame, favorite climate, language goals, or cultural curiosity. And you can always reach us if you want to talk over how to choose a study abroad program.
What are your goals and interests?
Frankly, what do you hope to get out of studying abroad in high school? Most people who live abroad expand and diversify their mindset and connections. Beyond becoming a global citizen, what particular interests do you want to explore in a new place, with a fresh perspective? What do you want to accomplish in your time abroad?
Maybe your top priority is learning a new language. If you’re looking for full immersion in a foreign language, we recommend a yearlong or semester homestay experience. Living with a host family and constantly using the language in real life contexts is one of the surest ways to develop fluency. But, if you don’t have the time for a whole year or semester, that’s OK. You can still get a lot out of a summer, and many of our 4 to 8-week programs include intensive language courses and shorter homestays to reinforce what you learn in class.
Do you want to focus on a specific topic, subject, or social issue? Our 1 to 3-week Global Prep Programs focus on timely themes and impactful projects in sustainability, environmental conservation, and human rights. In fact, we’ve aligned Global Prep with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to amplify, and encourage action toward, its ambitious vision for a peaceful world. For example, Sustainability and the Environment in New Zealand, teaches you to be an environmental guardian and forward-thinking social entrepreneur. It’s packed with sustainability and cultural events, social impact workshops, and ecological excursions, culminating in the Festival for the Future.
Do you enjoy the countryside or urban sprawl?
Many of our countries offer both, but China is ideal if you want dynamic city life as most of our host families are located in China’s booming metropolitan areas, like Shanghai, the largest city in the world. Similarly, in Hungary, most host families live in urban environments near Budapest or other large cities.
On the other hand, Costa Rica would be a great fit if you’re interested in exploring lush natural landscapes. If you’re a nature lover with a penchant for pristine lakes and mountains, you’ll probably love Switzerland, home to nearly 1,500 glistening lakes!
What’s your time frame?
Are you looking to go abroad for a year, semester, summer, or just a few weeks?
Longer, year and semester programs offer a deeper immersion. They can be perfect for learning a new language, settling into a new home and second family, and receiving a wider understanding of the country, people, and cultures. However, shorter summer trips can be much more focused on specific topics or goals ranging from art history, sustainability, ecotourism, and more. If you’re looking for an intensive deep dive, a shorter trip might be best for you!
Do you want to go abroad during the school year or in the summer? Remember, the southern hemisphere has the reverse of our seasons. Which leads us to ask…
What’s your preferred climate?
Do you thrive in sunshine or do you prefer gray skies? When studying abroad, it’s important to consider climate and weather patterns! In places like India or Ghana, for instance, the temperature and humidity generally remain high all year round, so enjoying a balmy or tropical climate is key to a happy study abroad experience. Alternatively, if you love winter sports like skiing and ice hockey, cold climes like Iceland or Sweden might be a perfect fit for you.
Where do you want to go?
Don’t just spin the globe and put your finger down anywhere. Consider what each country or region has to offer. Browse our program pages to learn more about general cultural norms and attitudes, as well as what you’re likely to see and do in a given country. For example, the mountainous landscape of rural Argentina contrasts vastly to the desert outback of Australia. But, be open to surprises! Finland could be perfect for you if you enjoy nature and want to experience a culture that highly values sustainable living and education.
Are you interested in living with a host family or in a dormitory?
Most of our programs offer host family accommodations. However, our summer programs that include dormitory living are Spain Language Study, France Language Study, Ireland Global Prep, and Costa Rica Global Prep if that’s what you’re after.
Are you over 18 years old?
Don’t worry – we’ve got programs for you, too! AFSNext offers Gap Year and Adult Programs abroad to match your goals, interests, and schedule! From social work and psychology internships, to community development programs, female empowerment workshops, and environmental conservation internships, you have endless opportunities to hone your skills and discover new passions.
Talk to us
Want to talk over these questions or get specialized recommendations? Don’t hesitate to reach out to our Study Abroad Specialists at 1-800-AFS-INFO or [email protected].
No matter what study abroad program you choose, your experience is likely to expand and diversify your perspectives, language skills, personal connections, and college and career goals and pathways. Adjusting to different cultures and surroundings can make you more creative, regardless of where you go. So, don’t be indecisive – consider these questions to narrow down your options, and then go for one. And remember, we’re always here to help!