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Study abroad in China to discover a fascinating intersection of ancient cultures and language with ultramodern infrastructure, innovation, and growth.

By living with a host family and studying at a local high school in China, you’ll be totally immersed in Chinese language and cultures. You’ll find China’s size and diversity make it an ideal place to explore vibrant and varied cultures, with different regions offering wide-ranging cuisines and customs. Forget about American Chinese food. Enjoy mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorn, sip and savor Shanghainese xiaolongbao (soup dumplings), or slurp noodles of all sorts (mostly wheat in the North and rice in the South). Traditional celebrations, like the Lantern festival and Chinese New Year, happen throughout the year. Whether you go for a year or semester, you’ll experience timeless cultural events.

Chinese people tend to honor tradition, but they also embrace many parts of Western popular culture. Thanks in part to the lasting influence of Confucianism, the Chinese have a strong sense of family, a deep respect for hierarchy, and an appreciation for harmony over conflict.

While attending high school in China, you may embark on excursions to places like Yunnan to see the breathtaking landscapes of Southwest China. Or, you could visit Xi’an, one of the most famous ancient capitals, home of the Terracotta Army that protects the tomb of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of a unified China!

What's included in your experience

  • Airfare

Study abroad in China with AFS to rewrite your high school experience and become a vital part of a new community in a uniquely historied and modern context.


Your High School in China

In Chinese high school, the value of hierarchy is reflected by the authority of the teacher. Chinese culture places a high value on education and academic achievement. Like students in most parts of the world, high schoolers in China wear uniforms. During your study abroad in China, you’ll go to class Monday through Friday, usually starting around 7:30 or 8 am and finishing around 4 or 4:30 pm. School provides an excellent opportunity to learn Mandarin, which is spoken by 70% of China’s population. You’ll also be provided with Mandarin language courses during the first two months of your stay to help ease your transition.

You’ll probably attend the Senior 1 level with a special class schedule as an exchange student. This means that you’ll focus on learning the Chinese language, culture, history, art, and music with other AFSers in the first half of your day. The rest of your day will be dedicated to taking classes with other Chinese students.

Many hosting schools will provide special courses for exchange students to experience Chinese culture, such as calligraphy, Chinese painting, and folk music. As a teenager in China, most of your social life will happen at school. You can also get involved in extracurricular activities like sports, martial arts, and dance, to make friends and engage with the culture.


Your Accommodations While Studying Abroad in China

AFSers have lived in communities all throughout China, but you will likely be in an urban area in the Eastern half of the country, such as Shaanxi, Jiangsu, Shanghai, Sichuan, Henan, Anhui, Dalian, Tianjin, or Beijing. Some students may live in dormitories during the week and with host families on weekends, but most just live with host families seven days a week. If your host family lives in a city, you’ll most likely share an apartment in a multi-story building. You’ll get to experience the amazing sprawl and endless adventures of China’s megacities and metropolitan areas!

Like anywhere in the world, all families are different in China. But, spending time with family is usually very important. Most couples have only one child, and grandparents often live in the home. Because the well-being of the family is viewed as more important than individual success, everyone works together as a unit.

Available Scholarships

AFS-USA scholarships are made possible by the generosity of numerous donors who all have a deep connection with AFS and value intercultural exchanges as necessary for the promotion of peace and justice in the world. Upon submission, applications will be reviewed and matched with the most applicable scholarship, if available. All scholarships are partial, and scholarship award amounts will be determined based on program length. For additional funding resources, check out our Fundraising page. You can view all available national and local scholarships on our Scholarships page. 

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
  • International secondary medical travel coverage
  • Visa support and guidance
  • Inclusion in a worldwide returnee and alumni network of over 1,000,000 people

Visa Info

Do I need a visa/residence permit for China? YES. Visa + Residence Permit
How do I apply for the visa? (By mail, In-person, In host country) In-person
Visa/Residence Permit Process Difficulty Level (Easy, Average, Complex) Complex
Estimated Visa/Residence Permit Expenses
($ – $$$)
Frequently Asked Visa Questions Visit our general visa FAQ page for more information.

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 China, 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 China.

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