High School


Year — Fall 2019
Aug 20-23, 2019 → Jun 21-24, 2020
  $16,200   Available
Semester — Fall 2019
Aug 20-23, 2019 → Dec 23-26, 2019
  $14,200   Available

*Departure dates may vary within a few days of those listed.


China’s size and diverse population make it an ideal place to explore a new culture. Step outside of your comfort zone and expand your worldview while soaking in the country’s multi-faceted history. With this year or semester program, you’ll be able to join teenagers from across the globe in a place where the ancient and modern intersect every day. By living with a host family and going to a local high school, you’ll be totally immersed in Chinese language and culture. Rewrite your high school experience, become a vital part of your new community, and discover life as a regular Chinese teenager.

Things to know

The Chinese revere tradition, but also embrace many parts of Western popular culture. You might even see a McDonald’s right next to a centuries-old temple! Thanks to the popularity of Confucianism, the Chinese have a strong sense of family and a deep respect for hierarchy. They value harmony and tend to avoid conflict. Most food in China is cooked with meat, so vegetarianism isn’t very common. But get ready to enjoy some delicious dumplings, rice, and pork!

Your journey to China

Arriving in Beijing or Shanghai

Your journey to China will begin in Los Angeles, where you’ll meet your fellow AFSers from the US. You’ll attend an overnight orientation and learn some essentials for your first days in China. Then, you’re off! You’ll travel with a group to Beijing or Shanghai where you’ll be welcomed by AFS staff and volunteers.

Soon you’ll be ready to head to your community. Along the way you might pass towering mountains, ancient pagodas, or imperial palaces, but you’re just as likely to see gleaming skyscrapers and other signs of expanding modernity. As you travel further into your new home, you’re bound to catch sight of some colorful street food tempting you with its mouth-watering flavors.

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Meeting your host family

AFSers have lived in communities all throughout China, but you’ll probably be in an urban area in the Eastern half of the country, such as Shaanxi, Jiangsu, Shanghai, Sichuan, Henan, Anhui, Dalian, Tianjin, or Beijing. If your host family lives in a city, you’ll most likely share an apartment with them in a multi-story building.

Spending time with family is very important in China. Most couples have only one child, and grandparents often live in the home. Because the well-being of the family is viewed as more important than individual success, everyone usually works together as a unit.

See where past AFSers have lived

Settling into daily life

Teenage life

Chinese culture is vibrant and varied, with traditional celebrations like the Lantern festival happening throughout the year. Teenagers enjoy Western fashion, music, and fast food, but they still have to follow strict rules. Parents are usually very involved in students’ lives, so you should always check with your host family before you go out. As a teenager in China, most of your social life will happen at school. You can also get involved in extracurricular activities like sports, martial arts, and dance, in order to make friends and learn more about Chinese culture.

Food you'll encounter

China is a great place to work on perfecting your chopstick skills, and most people will be more than happy to teach you the best techniques. Food usually consists of rice or noodles, fresh vegetables, and meat. Some popular dishes include jiaozi (dumplings with pork, chives, and onions), Peking duck (roasted duck covered with sweet wheat sauce and wrapped in a thin pancake), and Mongolian hotpot, which is like a Chinese version of fondue. You can also learn about the art and tradition of making, serving, and drinking tea.

Your high school

The Chinese place a high value on education and academic achievement. Like students in most parts of the world, high schoolers in China wear uniforms. You’ll go to class Monday through Friday, usually starting around 7:30 or 8 am and finishing around 4 or 4:30 pm. School provides an excellent opportunity to learn Mandarin, which is spoken by 70% of China’s population. You’ll also be provided with Mandarin language courses during the first two months of your stay to help ease your transition.

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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 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.

Meet the people who will be supporting you in China

Hanghang, AFS China Staff Hanghang
Yang, AFS China Volunteer Yang
Yin, AFS China Volunteer Yin

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