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Live with a host family in sunny Portugal for a year or semester while attending a local high school and learning all about this fascinating culture. The Portuguese are very friendly and welcoming of foreigners, and it shouldn’t be long before you feel like you’re a part of the community. By going to a local school you’ll have the opportunity to learn the language and make lots of new friends. Get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!

Things to know

Food is a big part of Portuguese life and most food is purchased fresh daily at local markets. Meals in Portugal involve lots of animated conversations and can last a long time. Be on the look-out for people pinching their earlobes during dinner…it means they’re enjoying their meal! You also may find that the Portuguese sense of punctuality is a bit more casual than you’re used to. If you speak some Spanish, you’ll probably be able to pick up Portuguese. Although they sound totally different, written they’re actually quite similar.

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, 0 months to
18yrs, 0 months at start of program
Language Skills No language requirement
COVID-19 Vaccine Not Required

Your Journey to Portugal

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.

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 Portugal will begin when you land, where you’ll be met by staff, and volunteers, and meet your fellow AFSers from around the world. Shortly after arrival, you will attend an arrival orientation and get a crash course on Portuguese culture, living with a host family, safety, and support structures.

On the way to your host community, you’ll get to experience some of the beautiful Portuguese landscapes. You might see ancient cathedrals and castles, rugged mountains, gorgeous beaches, serene forests, and picturesque farmlands. Everywhere you go you’ll see open-air markets selling fresh produce and seafood. You might even get a chance to see one of the many Portuguese folk festivals or a concert of traditional Portuguese Fado music, which is similar to the blues in the United States.

Lisbon’s Gloria funicular

Meeting Your Portuguese Host Family

AFS students have lived in communities throughout Portugal, but you’re most likely to be in an urban or suburban area. Most Portuguese families are relatively small, with one or two children. It’s rare for people to live with their grandparents but many live close to their extended family. Kids in Portuguese families are generally asked to clean up after themselves and help out with the household chores, and you can expect to be treated just the same. Portuguese families enjoy traveling together when they can and some have a country house where they go on the weekends. When it’s warm out, most Portuguese people go to the beach as much as possible so if you like the beach, you’re in luck!


Settling into daily life in Portugal

Teenage Life in Portugal

You can expect to spend most of your down-time hanging out at cafes, going to the movies, going out to dance clubs, or just relaxing at home and watching a soccer game on TV. While soccer is by far the most popular sport in Portugal, lots of people also like to go surfing, and play field hockey or basketball. You might also get a chance to experience some of Portugal’s numerous celebrations, fairs, and festivals. Every region, even the smallest village, keeps its particular traditions alive through colorful decorations, food, dancing, and music.


Foods You’ll Encounter in Portugal

Seafood is very popular in Portugal and you’ll find that the Portuguese have hundreds of ways to prepare fish, from charcoal-grilled sardines to salt cod. Other staples include meat, bread, cheese, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Pork, lamb, beef, chicken, and rabbit are all common sources of meat. Sweets are also very popular and you’ll find lots of pastry shops.

Your High School

Attending high school in Portugal will give you a unique opportunity to learn the language and share your culture with your friends. You’ll attend a public high school with other students your age, and will be on one of the following tracks based on your interest and previous classes: science and technology, social-economic sciences, social and human sciences, languages and literature, or visual arts.

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.
  • Free Language Proficiency Testing: after your immersive study abroad experience, take an AAPPL (ACTFL Assessment of Performance toward Proficiency in Languages) language proficiency test to be able to add your language skills to your resume or possibly your high school transcript!
  • 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 Portugal? YES. Visa
How do I apply for the visa? (By mail, In-person, In host country) In-person + In host country
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, 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 while attending high school in Portugal.

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