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With its rich history influenced by both the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires, Bosnia and Herzegovina offers you the opportunity to rewrite your high school experience amid a diverse mix of cultures. Bosnia is an emerging tourist destination, and you can be one of the first to blaze the trail to this dynamic country. By living with a host family and attending a local high school, you’ll be able to learn the language and experience life as a regular teenager. This is more than just a year abroad; it’s a chance to step outside of your comfort zone and build your own adventure in a fascinating and little-known destination.

Things to know about Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina has three official languages: Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian. That may sound like a lot of vocab to memorize—but don’t worry, once you learn one of these languages, you can basically understand them all. You’ll find that people in Bosnia value honesty and directness. They’re usually very friendly, with a unique brand of unguarded humor.

Eligibility Requirements

Current high school students and recent graduates are eligible. Specific age requirements may apply; contact AFS for more details.
Must be in good academic standing (recommended GPA of 2.5 or above).
Basic Cyrillic language skills preferred, but not required.

Your journey to Bosnia and Herzegovina

Your journey to study abroad in Bosnia and Herzegovina will begin in New York, where you’ll meet your fellow AFSers from the US. Together you’ll attend an overnight orientation and then travel to Sarajevo where you’ll be welcomed by AFS staff and volunteers. Next comes a three-day arrival camp where you’ll have a crash course on Bosnian culture and get to know the local staff who’ll be supporting you.

Soon you’ll be ready to travel to your new community. Along the way you might see towering mountains—the site of the 1984 Winter Olympics—or landscapes dotted with historical fortresses, monasteries, and mosques. You’ll probably pass bustling cities, charming towns, and tiny villages before finally arriving at your new home.

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Meeting your Bosnian Host Family

AFSers have lived in communities all throughout Bosnia. The country is full of small towns so you’ll most likely find yourself in a somewhat rural area. Like anywhere in the world, all families in Bosnia are different. Many Bosnians live with their extended family and it’s common for grandparents to care for children while parents are at work. Once you settle in, you can expect to be treated like part of the family. That means you’ll be included in your family members’ daily lives, whether it’s by helping your host parents make dinner, doing the dishes, or sharing late-night conversations with your host siblings. Above all, your Bosnian family is a great resource for cultural exchange; they can make you feel at home in their country while you teach them traditions from yours.

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Teenage life

In Bosnia you’ll probably spend most of your time with friends hanging out in cafes, parks, and town squares. Since most AFSers live in small communities, you’ll have the chance to grow close with your classmates and neighbors. Sports are popular, especially soccer, and are a good way to meet new people. School clubs and activities usually meet on Saturdays. You might also be able to take advantage of the country’s sloping landscape by going skiing or rafting.

Food you’ll encounter

If you love coffee, you’ll be happy to know that most Bosnians drink it every day. Food in Bosnia is similar to Turkish, Greek, and other Mediterranean cuisines. Typical dishes include pilav (rice pilaf, or rice cooked in broth), ćevapi (grilled, minced sausage), dolma (vegetables stuffed with meat and rice), and baklava (a pastry with syrup or honey) for dessert. Some other ingredients you’ll encounter are beef, lamb, and potatoes. Before eating, your Bosnian host family might say, “Prijatno,” which means, “enjoy your meal.”

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Your High School

When you study abroad in Bosnia, you’ll most likely be enrolled in an academic high school, called a gymnasium. Most gymnasiums offer four directions: natural subjects (chemistry, biology, and physics), math informatics (math, computer science, and physics), languages (English, German, French, Spanish, or Latin) and social subjects (Geography, History and Sociology). In some schools students only have classes in the morning or afternoon, not both, so you’ll get time each day to relax and explore your community. You’ll also want to take advantage of the intensive language courses provided in the first two months of your stay.

Available Scholarships

What's Included

  • 70+ years of experience delivering high-quality programs through a worldwide network of 50,000 dedicated volunteers
  • Accommodations with a vetted host family
  • Round-trip international airfare for the designated program dates
  • School enrollment fees
  • Worldwide, 24-hour emergency assistance
  • Access to an in-country support team and network, as well as our Participant Support Department based here in the U.S.
  • Orientations and intercultural education before and during your program
  • Secondary medical coverage
  • Visa support and guidance
  • Inclusion in a worldwide returnee and alumni network of over 1,000,000 people
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Returning Home

“Life-changing” is hard to describe, yet it’s nearly always the first thing that AFSers say when asked about their experience abroad. “Transformed” is another one.
When you return home from your study abroad in Bosnia, you’ll bring with you a sense of accomplishment unlike any other. You’ll have gained maturity and independence, discovered new passions, and developed the confidence and resilience to accomplish anything you set out to do.
That transformation isn’t only visible to you, though – others see it as well. AFSers gain critical skills for college and careers. Second language fluency, intercultural competence, creativity, and critical reasoning will help you succeed, whatever path you take. “Life-changing” means it’s only the beginning.
It’s not just an adventure abroad; it’s a whole new reality. The perspectives and personal connections you gained will stay with you and likely draw you back to the second home you found in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In fact, our alumni reviews have made AFS one of the top-rated organizations in the study abroad industry.

A new you awaits.

Apply for High School Study Abroad in Bosnia and Herzegovina!

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