years-experience access-alumni-network airfare airport-pick-up assistance-with-application-process community-service-placement continuous-support cultural-trips domestic-transport emergency-support field-trips global-competence-certificate grade-transcripts host-family-placement housing individual-contact-person internship-placement language-instruction meals medical-insurance orientations-during-your-time-abroad other pre-departure-orientation product-materials re-entry-orientation school-dipolma school-materials school-placement school-transport school-uniform stipend teaching-materials vaccinations visa-and-passport-fees visa-application-assistance world-wide-presence

Study Abroad in Finland

Spend a year or semester of high school in Finland and immerse yourself in the daily life of one of Europe’s most magical countries. The Finns tend to be very well-educated—they’re avid readers of both newspapers and library books—making this a rewarding place for a unique high school experience. Get an inside look at a country that celebrates summers of seemingly endless sun and finds light in the near total darkness of winter. By living with a local host family, you’ll be able to learn the language, take part in the customs, and taste the food that makes Finnish culture unique.

Things To Know

Finland has more saunas per capita than anywhere else in the world; if you like a good steam, you’re in luck, because almost every modern home or apartment has access to one. Another thing the Finns have lots of: cell phones. There are actually more cellphones than people in Finland! During the warmer months, you’ll likely witness the famous midnight sun (when it’s light out nearly all night and day). On the other hand, the Arctic winter finds Finland in darkness for almost a full 24 hours. That’s when Finns spend their time sipping coffee indoors or, for the adventurous, doing outdoor winter sports.

What's included in your experience

  • 70 Years Experience


Graduates Eligible? Yes, high school graduates are eligible to participate.
Minimum GPA 2.5
Age Range
15yrs, 8 months
18yrs, 8 months at start of program
Language Skills No language requirement
COVID-19 Vaccine Required

Based on differences in culture, strict government regulation of medications, and other local customs, it has been our experience that not all of our international AFS partners are able to support students with certain diagnoses, including but not limited to, severe allergies, strict dietary restrictions, ADD/ADHD, and those currently taking or who have taken psychotropic medications and/or received counseling for mental/psychological issues within the past year. If this applies to you, please get in touch with an AFS Study Abroad Specialist early so that we can determine the right experience for you.

Your Journey to Finland

Visa Information

AFS will provide visa guidance and support documents (if applicable). Visa processes can be lengthy and complex; you may be required to travel long distances to apply for the visa if there is not an embassy, consulate, etc. close to your home. Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months beyond a return date from your host country. We urge you to apply for or renew your passport as soon as possible if applying to an AFS program. We recommend not taking any trips (domestically or internationally) within 2 months prior to your AFS program as it may interfere with the visa application process and result in a late program start date.

Travel & Orientation

In the months before your departure, AFSers have the opportunity to participate in various preparatory activities, including an online Student Learning Journey, which is an interactive course that brings AFSers from around the world together to learn how to develop essential global skills, intercultural communication techniques, and practice social impact, maximizing the outcomes of the AFS learning experience.

Also during this time, AFS-USA will coordinate and share your international travel with you.You will need to coordinate your own travel to the point of international departure. From there, your journey in Finland will begin when you land, where you’ll be met by staff and volunteers…as well as your fellow AFSers from around the world! Shortly after arrival, you will attend an arrival orientation and get a crash course on Finnish culture, living with a host family, safety, and support structures.

Aurora borealis over a track through winter landscape, Finnish L

Your Accommodations

Meeting Your Host Family

AFSers have lived in communities all throughout Finland, but you’ll most likely find yourself in a small town or rural area in the Southern half of the country.

Finns are generally kind and open-minded, even though they can be a bit shy at first. Families are usually small, with only one or two children. People in Finland appreciate punctuality, good manners, and practicality. Equality is also very important, and it’s common for both parents to cook dinner or clean the house.


Your High School in Finland

Finland has one of the best education systems in the world, so you can expect classes that are both engaging and challenging. You’ll most likely be enrolled in a public high school (lukio) where the year is divided into five or six terms. You’ll study a few subjects intensively each term, including Finnish, Swedish, math, science, psychology, art, music, history, and geography. And don’t be surprised if your Finnish classmates are more direct than what you’re used to; they might even refer to teachers by their first names.


Daily Life

Teenage Life in Finland

As a teenager in Finland, you can expect to have a lot of independence. Your friends will probably enjoy spending time outdoors, even in the winter. You’ll likely have the opportunity to go cycling, boating, or skiing (either cross-country or downhill) and take part in Finland’s active culture. Other common sports are soccer, track-and-field, basketball, ice hockey, and pesäpallo (Finnish baseball). Golf is getting so popular that people even play it on frozen lakes during the winter! You’ll discover that most teenagers also like to dance, especially in the summer. Finnish high schools have a formal dance called the vanhojen tanssit for students in the second grade (where most AFSers are placed). Otherwise, you’ll find dance floors (lavatanssit) all over the country that play both modern and traditional music.


Food You’ll Encounter

Finns tend to drink a lot of coffee, and they often enjoy it with a sweet wheat bread called pulla. If you like a good smörgåsbord (a Swedish hot and cold buffet), you’ll be happy to discover that Finland has its own version, called the voileipäpöytä. At a voileipäpöytä, you’re likely to find a variety of fish, potatoes, berries, and dairy products, along with rye bread. Another common Finnish dish is makkara (sausage), which is roasted over a fire and eaten with sinappi (mustard). But don’t forget the country’s most unique delicacy—reindeer! The Finns eat reindeer stew, steak, cutlets, meatballs, and even tartare.

What's Included

  • 75+ years of experience delivering high-quality programs through a worldwide network of 32,000 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

Scholarships and Aid

We believe that studying abroad should not be contingent on personal finances. When you apply, we work with you to understand your family’s needs and match you with available scholarships and aid. 100% of accepted applicants with demonstrated need receive funds.

Learn More

Visa Info

Do I need a visa/residence permit for Finland? YES. 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) Average
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 Finland, 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 Finland.

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