Year — Fall 2019
With its rich history influenced by both the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires, Bosnia and Herzegovina offers you the opportunity to rewrite your high school experience amid a diverse mix of cultures. Bosnia is an emerging tourist destination, and you can be one of the first to blaze the trail to this dynamic country. By living with a host family and attending a local high school, you’ll be able to learn the language and experience life as a regular teenager. This is more than just a year abroad; it’s a chance to step outside of your comfort zone and build your own adventure in a fascinating and little-known destination.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has three official languages: Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian. That may sound like a lot of vocab to memorize—but don’t worry, once you learn one of these languages, you can basically understand them all. You’ll find that people in Bosnia value honesty and directness. They’re usually very friendly, with a unique brand of unguarded humor.
Your journey to Bosnia and Herzegovina will begin in New York, where you’ll meet your fellow AFSers from the US. Together you’ll attend an overnight orientation and then travel to Sarajevo where you’ll be welcomed by AFS staff and volunteers. Next comes a three-day arrival camp where you’ll have a crash course on Bosnian culture and get to know the local staff who’ll be supporting you.
Soon you’ll be ready to travel to your new community. Along the way you might see towering mountains—the site of the 1984 Winter Olympics—or landscapes dotted with historical fortresses, monasteries, and mosques. You’ll probably pass bustling cities, charming towns, and tiny villages before finally arriving at your new home.
AFSers have lived in communities all throughout Bosnia. The country is full of small towns so you’ll most likely find yourself in a somewhat rural area.
Like anywhere in the world, all families in Bosnia are different. Many Bosnians live with their extended family and it’s common for grandparents to care for children while parents are at work. Once you settle in, you can expect to be treated like part of the family. That means you’ll be included in your family members’ daily lives, whether it’s by helping your host parents make dinner, doing the dishes, or sharing late-night conversations with your host siblings. Above all, your Bosnian family is a great resource for cultural exchange; they can make you feel at home in their country while you teach them traditions from yours.See where past AFSers have lived
In Bosnia you’ll probably spend most of your time with friends hanging out in cafes, parks, and town squares. Since most AFSers live in small communities, you’ll have the chance to grow close with your classmates and neighbors. Sports are popular, especially soccer, and are a good way to meet new people. School clubs and activities usually meet on Saturdays. You might also be able to take advantage of the country’s sloping landscape by going skiing or rafting.
If you love coffee, you’ll be happy to know that most Bosnians drink it every day. Food in Bosnia is similar to Turkish, Greek, and other Mediterranean cuisines. Typical dishes include pilav (rice pilaf, or rice cooked in broth), ćevapi (grilled, minced sausage), dolma (vegetables stuffed with meat and rice), and baklava (a pastry with syrup or honey) for dessert. Some other ingredients you’ll encounter are beef, lamb, and potatoes. Before eating, your Bosnian host family might say, “Prijatno,” which means, “enjoy your meal.”
You’ll most likely be enrolled in an academic high school, called a gymnasium. Most gymnasiums offer four directions: natural subjects (chemistry, biology, and physics), math informatics (math, computer science, and physics), languages (English, German, French, Spanish, or Latin) and social subjects (Geography, History and Sociology). In some schools students only have classes in the morning or afternoon, not both, so you’ll get time each day to relax and explore your community. You’ll also want to take advantage of the intensive language courses provided in the first two months of your stay.
"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 feel like you can do anything you set your mind to. That transformation isn’t visible only to you, though - others see it as well. AFSers gain critical skills for college and careers, ranging from language fluency to intercultural competence and critical reasoning. "Life-changing" means it’s only the beginning.
Please Note: Travel date ranges are meant to help with general scheduling and are subject to change; please don’t book any travel based on these dates until you’ve received confirmation from AFS. All programs, prices, and travel dates are subject to change without notice.