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During your time at a high school in Iceland you’ll have the opportunity to make lots of new friends, learn a new language, and gain an intimate understanding of this ancient and rich culture. By living with a host family and attending a local school, you’ll be completely immersed in Icelandic society, which is extremely progressive and egalitarian. This once in a lifetime experience will be one you’ll never forget!

Things to know

Iceland is filled with geysers and hot springs and much of the country’s energy comes from geothermal heat. Lots of people in Iceland take ancient Viking folklore seriously and many of them even admit that they believe in elves and other magical creatures. Because of the Gulf Stream, Iceland is actually much warmer than you might expect. During the summer months it hardly ever gets dark so you might want to bring an eye mask!

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 Icelandic language skills preferred, but not required.

Your journey to Iceland

Your adventure will begin in New York City, where you’ll meet your fellow AFSers from the United States and attend an overnight orientation. Then you’ll travel together to Keflavik, which is near the capital of Reykjavik, where you’ll be met by AFS staff and volunteers. From there you’ll be off to meet your host family!

On your way to your host community you’ll get to see some of Iceland’s breathtaking landscape. Known as “the land of fire and ice,” Iceland is covered by volcanoes, rivers, waterfalls, mountains, glaciers, lakes, and geysers. The powerful geothermal heat generated by the many hot springs even provides energy to greenhouses, which produce all kinds of fruits and vegetables that otherwise could never grow so far north.

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Meeting your Host Family

AFS students have been placed all over Iceland. Some students have lived with families in Reykjavik or in the countryside but you’ll probably live in a community along the coast. You might even have the chance to live with a couple different host families during your year abroad so you can experience life in different parts of the island.

Family in Iceland is especially important, as the country is so small. Icelandic families are often larger then in other Northern European countries and you might end up living with several siblings and stepsiblings. Extended family members usually don’t live together but uncles, aunts, and grandparents often help with childcare. Since most people in Iceland have been there for a very long time, charting family history is a popular hobby for many Icelanders, and you can expect to be brought into the conversation.

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Settling into daily life in Iceland

Teenage Life

You may find that you’re given quite a bit of independence as a teenager attending high school in Iceland and might spend a lot of time socializing with your friends and meeting new people. Icelandic teenagers tend to enjoy the same kinds of activities as teenagers elsewhere around the world, such as going to parties, watching movies, or just hanging out. You’ll also have the opportunity to take music lessons, join a drama group, a choir, or a sports team.

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Food you’ll encounter

Dinner is the most important meal of the day and it’s usually a time for the whole family to get together. Icelanders eat a lot of fish, lamb, cheese, and skyr, the local version of yogurt. Boiled potatoes accompany most meals. Thanks to Iceland’s many greenhouses a wide range of fresh fruits and vegetables are also available.

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Your High School in Iceland

As a high school student in Iceland you’ll most likely attend classes Monday through Friday from 8AM to 3PM. Compared to some countries the relationship between teachers and students in Iceland may seem casual and friendly. Teachers are addressed by their first names and students have a lot of freedom. In general the atmosphere at high schools in Icelandic is creative and supportive. During the school day you’ll have a great opportunity to make new friends and you’ll also have the option to join a variety of school clubs including photography, cinema, radio, mountaineering, and cooking.

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, if you’re like most AFSers, 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 Iceland.

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 Iceland!

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