AFS Study Abroad Summer Program in Finland

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About

Summer Homestay: This five-week program will give you the full host family immersion experience. Your time will be largely unstructured, with an emphasis on engaging with your host family and becoming a true member of the community. Most Finns love the outdoors, so you will have the opportunity to see the unspoiled natural playground of Finland in the summer, with vast forests, almost 200,000 lakes, and long days with late sunsets. Many families have summer cottages by a lake where you may spend your weekends, and English is widely spoken so the language barrier will probably not be an issue. Family life is important to Finns. Though structures are diverse, many families are centered on the nuclear family. As a teenager in Finland, you'll likely enjoy a good deal of independence.

Questions & Answers

Hi, thanks for stopping by! To get a feel for what your time abroad will be like, we recommend reading program reviews. You can read reviews at the bottom of this link, under "Reviews": https://www.gooverseas.com/high-school-abroad/finland/progr… .

Reviews

100%
based on 2 reviews
  • Growth 10
  • Support 10
  • Fun 10
  • Housing 10
  • Safety 10
Showing 1 - 2 of 2
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Jennifer
10/10

Finland Summer Home-stay Review

I absolutely loved my time abroad in Finland! It was the most amazing and educational experience of my entire life and I grew so much even though it was a relatively short 5 week trip. I made lasting friendships with my entire host family and the other students who traveled with me to Finland.
While I was located primarily in Helsinki, students may end up living in cities all over Finland depending on where their host family lives. Students will likely have the opportunity to visit a summer cottage, if their family owns one, as well! Either way everyone will end up with a unique and life changing experience.
I would absolutely encourage anyone considering this trip to just go for it, and to try as many new things as possible while abroad!

How can this program be improved?
The trip itself was absolutely amazing, including the day-long seminars in New York and Helsinki. Some of the preparatory seminars that are mandatory before one even gets to New York are a little bit tedious as they do not provide new information that is not also covered in the New York seminar. However I understand why this choice was made, as it is important to be sure that the students are well educated about cultural differences and safety procedures.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Rachel
10/10

The Best Summer of My Life

I went on this program last summer (summer of 2014), and I was 16. It was absolutely fantastic. However, I'd like to caution you that it could have been a terrible experience if I hadn't gotten so lucky as to get the best host family in the world.

Many of my friends who also went on the program were not well matched with their host families, which resulted in a bad experience for them overall. I don't think that this was the fault of the program; I think it was just because there didn't happen to be host families available that were a good fit for them. If you are considering going on this program (or any study abroad program, really) make sure that you are ready to explore the country and enjoy yourself even if your host family is not the most fun or interesting.

Okay, back to the good stuff. Finland is, in my (very biased) opinion, one of the best places for a teenager to study abroad. This is because Finns spend a lot of time alone and deep in thought. I really changed as a person while in Finland because of all of that thought, and many of my friends did too. We learned more about ourselves and became more mature.

I know that there are a few things that lots of people worry about before they go to Finland, so really quickly, I'm going to tell you the absolute truth (at least, from my experience):
1. Saunas. Don't worry, it's totally acceptable to wear a bathing suit. I always did. You'll probably wind up in the sauna with people who don't wear bathing suits, but it's not a big deal. Seriously, don't overthink it. Girls will be with girls and boys with boys, so there's nothing to be afraid of. Saunas are one of my favorite parts of being in Finland!
2. Weather. For the summer program, you really shouldn't worry. Of the 6 weeks, I was in shorts + T-shirts for about 4-5 of them. Finland does have slightly chillier summers than I'm used to (I'm from Michigan), but you don't need to bundle up or abandon your dreams of going to the beach. I swam every day for the majority of the program, and I was rarely cold. Just bring a couple hoodies and jeans in case.
3. Language. Finnish is hard; there's no other way to put it. But you don't need to worry! Frankly, you don't even need to know any Finnish in Finland because most people know English. Not everyone is fluent, but you will always be able to find someone who speaks enough English to be your friend or to help you if you need it. I didn't know any Finnish when I arrived and had no troubles with that. Sure, it would've been nice to know some Finnish, but it wasn't a big deal.
4. Homesickness. This is a bit of a problem, to be honest. I only got a tad homesick, but I've never gotten homesick before. It's bound to happen when you're so far from home for so long, and the time alone makes it worse. Even still, you'll be fine. AFS is great at giving you advice that will keep you from getting homesick. Trust me, it really works! If you've been away from home for at least 2 weeks without trouble, then you're fine for the program.

If you can't tell, I really like this program, and I definitely recommend it to most anyone. I would not recommend it to anyone who doesn't like the outdoors (Finns LOVE the outdoors), isn't open minded when learning about foreign countries, has had serious problems with being homesick in the past, or isn't ready to step outside of their comfort zones and enjoy themselves even if it's tempting to withdraw from everyone else. If you go on the program, my biggest advice is: be determined to have fun, no matter where you are or what you're doing.

How can this program be improved?
Better host family placement. Some of my friends were poorly matched with their host families or had host families that knew very little English.
Yes, I recommend

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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...