AFS-USA

Provider

AFS-USA (formerly the American Field Service), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is a leader in intercultural learning and offers international exchange programs in more than 40 countries around the world through independent, nonprofit AFS Organizations, each with a network of volunteers, a professionally staffed office, and headed up by a volunteer board.

We've been exchanging students throughout the world for more than 65 years. That's six decades of history and experience in international education with an exemplary record of safety, security, and service to students, parents, and educators.

The AFS Network around the World

Programs from AFS

Program Reviews

  • Sophia
    Age: 18 or younger
    Female
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    Japan for 11 months
    05/13/2015

    I went to Japan for 11 months through AFS, and it was a wonderful experience, and I truly believe that I am a better person from doing it. It was extremely difficult to adapt to the culture and the language, and I don't believe that it is for everyone. I had no trouble with my host family, but some things that were done in their house shocked me, like the extreme gender stereotyping going on. Also, the school I went to was wonderful, but as an all-girls private school, it was difficult for me to adapt. On the whole, I think my view of the world has changed through my experience and I have friends in Japan that I would like to keep close to me. I think that everyone should have a chance to go to a foreign country and learn about the different cultures because more understanding leads to more peace.

    How could this program be improved?

    I would put more emphasis on culture shock, and I mean REAL culture shock, not just that the Japanese take showers before bathing.

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  • Jacob Gomez
    Age: 18 or younger
    Male
    Salinas, California
    Lemons and Lemonade
    05/07/2015

    I think about the experiences I had during my time and how they changed me and changed my views on life. I experienced things during my stay both good and bad that affected me deeply. Between the numerous bad times and occasional depression some would ask if it was worth it. But I would say it was absolutely worth it. I never had more fun, learned more things, or grown more as a person than I did during my year in Japan. I think the experiences that feel the hardest at the time can become the most defining aspects of our character. And I am only a stronger person for having gone through it. I think, in a way, that everyone finds something that benefits them from going abroad. Whether it be the relationships we forge, the knowledge we attain, or the lessons we learn, it is something that stays with us for life and something grander than ourselves that we are forever a part of.

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  • Sasha Albano
    Age: 18 or younger
    Female
    Southern California
    Tough year, but worth the struggle
    05/07/2015

    Studying abroad in Japan is not for the faint hearted; the culture shock is very difficult, even if you are prepared for it. Every last person in my chapter switched families at least once, and we were often exhausted and homesick. That being said, and despite me feeling that 90% of my days in Japan weren't so great, the 10% of days that turned out well were worth it. I felt alive, like I'd conquered the world, I felt what true happiness really is like. I learned to open my heart up everyday and try again, and I learned how to love people even if they couldn't love me back. You can survive, you will grow so much, and learn, and become stronger. It's worth it.

    How could this program be improved?

    Support for students on the Japanese side of the program could be a lot better. My liaison stopped communicating with me only 3 months after I got there and I had trouble finding someone to talk to.

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  • Larissa Miller
    Age: 18 or younger
    Female
    Lititz, Pennsylvania
    Messiah College
    Why Switzerland is the Greatest Place on Earth
    05/07/2015

    Besides the obvious reason of Switzerland's superior chocolate, living in that beautiful country close to the Alps is a unique experience. My host family truly valued the importance of mealtime, and we always ate together, even when I had to bike home from school to do so. I absolutely loved my host family because they were so generous and welcomed me with open arms. The biggest challenge for me was having to learn both High German and the local dialect of Swiss German, which are basically two different languages. There are so many little special quirks about the country like how the Swiss turn off their car engines at a red light or how notebook paper is actually graphing paper. Altogether, I fell in love with this country very quickly. My recommendation to anyone thinking about Switzerland, is to go for it. Challenge yourself, do some outdoorsy stuff, and learn about this little-known country in the middle of Europe. This isn't a kind of experience that you will ever regret.

    How could this program be improved?

    Although my overall experience was more than could be asked for, I did have trouble communicating with AFS about extending my stay for a week at the end, and that led to a bit of stress. An improvement would be to have a set hierarchy of people to contact when an exchange student needs something relatively big to be done.

    Photos:
    The best host family on earth and me
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  • Annie
    Age: 18 or younger
    Female
    Berkeley, California
    Great experience but rocky times
    05/07/2015

    I didn't feel as if AFS France was organized and truly cared about their students. Obviously there were lovely volunteers I had met who welcomed me into their home but there were some who didn't bother to learn the names of the students or overall I didn't feel as if they were there to make a positive experience on the students stay. I also had difficulties with AFS when my host family and I were not getting along-it happens when spending so much time together but AFS sent someone to talk to me who didn't improve the situation and promised she would call back to check up on me but never in the 6 months following the incident. I also lived 2 hours away from my fellow AFSers in the region so meeting up for the AFS get togethers next staying at a volunteers house--once the volunteer forgot to pick me up. Lastly because I was further away from most of the AFSers in the group nobody invited me to the meetings until about 2 months into my stay...AFS meetings become an important part of your stay because you get to see your friends so I felt as if I was alone for at least the first 2 months when nobody told me we were having meetings. Overall it was a great experience and I wouldn't change going on the year abroad BUT I may think differently about AFS although I understand all organizations have their faults and unfortunately AFS is the best of the organizations. Lastly not all regions and countries are the same! AFS USA is fantastic where as AFS France is t...it depends where you choose to go and what region you end up with.

    How could this program be improved?

    Organization amongst the French leaders!

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