Life in Germany

Germany is fantastic, but you have to throw yourself into your community! Get involved! Go to class and participate as much as you can, even if your German isn't that great! I did and when the other students saw that I was trying and putting effort into being there, they all wanted to get to know me and I made great friends! Erin from MA, Year Program
I found the German bluntness incredibly hard to get used to at the beginning. I thought people were just being incredibly rude, when in fact they were trying to help me out and had my best interests at heart. Claire from PA, Year Program
Even if you are tired, if you are invited to hang out or to some kind of activity, always, always say yes, at least in the first month or two. That sets you up for success. Marios from CT, Year Program
German kids are expected to be very self-reliant versus the family unit oriented structure. Do not take direct communication as an insult, but rather as a desire to efficiently accomplish a task. Stephen from TX, Year Program
Be outgoing and loud from the first day and don't be discouraged if it takes a really long time to make friends. Be pushy and on time. Darcy from OR, Year Program
The school expects the students to learn for themselves, putting their future into their own hands. Your host family will expect you to be responsible for yourself and your commitments.Lauren from OH, Year Program
Learn how to read the schedules and the bus plans, and don't be late for your bus. Get to know your area yourself - that's the best way to become comfortable with yourself and your surroundings. It also proves to your host family that you can be trusted to not get lost, and that you can be independent and reliable, which are very important qualities to the German.Lauren from OH, Year Program
Germans are very honest and will share their opinions. They also expect people to invite themselves along, which is very different to how things in the US are done. Rebecca from ME, Year Program
German teenagers interact differently than we do. It can take someone quite a long while to warm up to you, but with time it does happen. In Germany, if you do not talk to other students in the class or make an effort to start a conversation, then they will go ahead and assume that you do not want to talk with them.Hannah from VA, Year Program
Learn as much German as you can! I know, everyone says this but it is SO important. I knew nothing when I left, and it took me forever to be comfortable enough to start speaking. Hannah from VA, Year Program
DO NOT let people speak only English with you. Everyone seemed to want to "practice their English" with me. While this is nice, don't fall into this trap. Hannah from VA, Year Program
Don't be afraid to get involved in your school! I was in two choirs and a musical and it helped me meet tons of new people and make lots of new friends. Madeline from MA, Year Program

Digging Deeper

Language Resources
Cultural Resources
News and Media
Movies and Documentaries
  • Pappa Ante Portas (1991)
  • The Miracle of Bern (2003)
  • The Tunnel (2001)
  • Make me a German (BBC 2013)
  • The Rural Exodus in Germany (2014)
  • Hitler’s Children (2011)
  • Half a Century in Germany: Alamanya Alamanya (2011)
  • The First World War (2005)
  •  Apocalypse: the Second World War (2009) (6-part series)
  • The Book Thief
  • The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
  • Oh, wie schön ist Panama
  • All Souls day
  • Stones from the River
  • A Concise History of Germany
  • Cambridge Illustrated History of Germany
  • The Meaning of Hitler
  • Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall
  • Germany: Unraveling an Enigma
  • The German way: Aspects of Behavior, Attitudes, and Customs in the German-Speaking World
  • When in Germany, Do as the Germans Do
  • The Bells in Their Silence: Travels through Germany
  • Spoonfuls of Germany: German Regional Cuisine
LGBTQ Resources (Diversity) Heritage and Ethnicity Resources (Diversity)

Language Requirements

Year High School Program
AFS Germany offers language training both prior to departure and upon arrival in Germany.  Applicants are expected to enroll in an online Rosetta Stone language course and study independently prior to departure.  The mandatory online course will be organized and monitored by AFS Germany who will email registration and login instructions to each student approximately 2 months prior to the start of the program.  AFS Germany requires that all students complete at least one level of the course (approx. 40 hours) BEFORE their arrival in Germany. There is no cost to the participant.

Upon arrival in Germany, the language training will take place locally and the format will vary depending on each local chapter, family and student. It may take place in a small group, with a private teacher, or with local school teachers. Language acquisition plays a big role in helping the students to assimilate to life in Germany, and AFS Germany generously provides stipends for any student who wishes to use this towards their language lessons. Transportation to and from the courses are also provided.

Semester High School Program 
AFS Germany requires applicants to have completed a minimum 1 year of German - or the equivalent - prior to departure. This requirement can be met in 3 ways (in order of preference):

Formal Study - If you have taken German language courses in high school or at a community college, please indicate this on the Academic Record (form 7) portion of Online Application or by providing a school transcript. One semester of class is sufficient.  A certificate of completion from a language school course is also acceptable.

Private Tutor - If formal language classes are not available in your community, AFS Germany prefers that you study with a private tutor. If this is how you plan to meet the requirement, please submit a signed statement from your tutor confirming that they have given, or will be offering, language instruction to you. The statement should include details such as hours of class time, hours of independent study per day, the study materials used, and the language level attained - with examples of the student's speaking ability at the end of the course.

Independent Study - If no formal classes or private tutor are available then you can study independently. You must submit a statement signed by both you and a parent that outlines exactly how you will complete the independent study. Please detail the materials you plan to use (whether it's a book, a website, a multimedia course, etc.), the amount of time you intend to devote to language study each day or week, the level you plan to complete (Level 2 of Rosetta Stone, for example), and examples of your anticipated language speaking ability at departure (i.e. "I will be able to greet people, ask simple questions and understand the answers, order from a menu, and get directions"). If possible, we encourage you to speak with a native-speaker so that you can practice your newly acquired language skills. 

Note: The links and resources listed in "Digging Deeper" have been provided to AFS by people involved with our organization, including alumni members, volunteers, etc. AFS has not reviewed the resources in their entirety and presents them "as is" for your own information. As such, the sites, publications, films, etc. do not necessarily reflect the approval of nor the views, opinions, and/or values of AFS.