AFS Year and Semester High School Abroad in Germany

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About

Known for their direct communication, Germans love spirited conversation about politics, economics, environmental issues and any other issue one can take a side on. They also passionately follow their soccer teams, especially after hosting the World Cup in 2006. You could be placed in one of three types of German schools, though most likely will be enrolled in a Gymnasium (college preparatory), a program that includes the classics, modern languages, math, or the natural sciences. Teenagers generally devote their time to academics during the week. Because there is no school in the afternoon, school-based extracurricular activities are not commonly offered; instead, communities organize activities for teens, and there are frequently festivals year-round in towns and villages.

Highlights
  • Live with a host family and experience German hospitality
  • Attend a local high school and participate in the German educational system
  • Develop your language skills and learn the ins-and-outs of everyday German life
  • Gift shop or browse a world-famous Christmas markets during the winter months
  • Enjoy some of the heartiest cuisines on the planet (think schnitzel, bratwurst and thick bread)

Questions & Answers

Reviews

99%
based on 8 reviews
  • Growth 9.5
  • Support 8.4
  • Fun 8.6
  • Housing 9.8
  • Safety 9.1
Showing 1 - 8 of 8
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Landon
10/10

Life Changing

Hugging my mother goodbye is how I began my journey. It was like a scene of a movie, every moment seemed surreal. To separate yourself from your loved ones for 9+ months seems impossible at first but I found that with separation you are able to mold yourself into the person you want to be. I wouldn’t trade the world for the months I spent in Germany. Not only did I meet new people, I made lifelong relationships with people from around the world. When I reached the end of my program I was emotional, not only to leave but to continue my life at home as a changed person. If I learned anything it was that leaving is never a “goodbye” it’s a “see you later.”

How can this program be improved?
I would have liked it if there would have been more exchange students in my region.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Erica
10/10

Most unforgettable year of my life

Truly one of the most memorable and life changing things I have had the opportunity to experience. I lived in Germany for 10 months through AFS and although I had no previous german language skills I worked really hard and picked it up relatively fast. At the end of my year I couldn’t imagine leaving my amazing friends, my host family, the amazing culture and everything else I experienced in Germany behind. I was home in the us the next year and decided I wanted to go back. So I applied and was accepted and am now attending college in berlin and plan to complete my entire bachelor here. Without my exchange year in Germany I would have never known what an amazing country it is and would have never ended up where I am right now. Throughout my exchange year I matured more than I realized and genuinely felt as though I was more aware of the world and my presence in it. Wouldn’t be the person I am today without it and highly recommend AFS (CBYX) to any students considering a year abroad.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Alison
10/10

Learning my own Strength

Spontaneous and craving the life of a global citizen, I set out on my study abroad to Germany. I am fortunate to have been on very many vacations, and I’ve loved every one of them, but have always felt I needed something more. Living abroad was the “more” I always needed.

Without knowing more than a sentence in German, my flight to a land I had never been took off. I slept in a bed I never had, in a house I had walked into for the first time, owned by a family I did not know would become my own.

I could tell you the amazing parts; almost everything was amazing. It shaped who I am today. Living one hour from my dream city of Berlin, making my best friends in the world who don’t speak my native language, experiencing a completely different culture, language, and foods... but living abroad does not come without its challenges. Being an american living in a foreign country, I had to find a balance between defending my country and explaining how we could do better. I lived through every single day trying to not have a panic attack when people got frustrated with me for having no idea what they were saying. I even went through a breakup while on exchange with nearly no friends at the time, feeling like no one understood me. I could’ve given up, but I didn’t.

I rose from my experiences. I challenged myself everyday to stop speaking English, and one day, I finally could. I overcame my incredible fear of being alone and vulnerable, and traveled alone hours many times a month to visit friends or explore new places. I found the strength inside of me I never knew was there. I gained so much responsibility, patience, and such a strong spirit of adventure that drove me to plan 3 vacations when I came back from exchange, which I am working everyday to pay for myself.

Through all the ups and downs, through my triumphs in school and with my host family to finally not missing my train, to solving problems in a language that was completely new to me, I did it. I did it and I would suffer again one million times to gain what I gained out of my incredible experience. An experience that shaped me entire life, myself as a person and my future.

How can this program be improved?
I believe the rule about traveling alone could be made a little more easy to accomplish, considering it is almost impossible to travel alone without waiting 3 months for an answer. I also believe liesans could be more in contact with student.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Julia
9/10

Bittersweet: A Year that Changed the Direction of my Life

When I had decided to board a flight to Frankfurt and live with a family I had never met before, I was more than ecstatic. The unknown, for the first time ever, seemed more exciting than anything else I could have looked forward to! It is a year that I laughed, cried, while even doing both at the same time. I fell in love with the city of Augsburg, met lifelong friends, and made everlasting memories that I reference in my day-to-day life, now two years later. Thanks to my exchange experience with AFS, I made my way to study at a university in Germany and learned a second language, and I am thankful everyday for the support of my Host Family, my exchange friends and all the other people I met along the way.
Doing an exchange is an experience that affects every aspect of one's life: I have put on a new lense and I view the world more mature and more aware than I had been two years ago. Sometimes it can be a difficult adjustment, particularly when I experience culture shock with the culture I grew up with and confuse both languages, but stepping out of my comfort-zone has been, hands-down, the most influential decision of my life.
For those who are considering doing an exchange, just do it! As long as you push forward, aim to be the best version you can be and take it every day at a time, you will gain skills and experiences that you can only be proud of, and with amazing people from all over the world!
-The world is your playground

How can this program be improved?
AFS-Germany was very well-organized and offer good support for exchange students with fun excursions. As someone now spending half her time in Germany, I wish there were more ways to get involved in the AFS community for volunteering, or perhaps an alumni portal made available. In terms of AFS-USA (so for students coming to Germany), my family and I unfortunately had a negative experience with hosting and receieved little to no support with our exchange student. The committee overseeing us refused to listen to both sides, and both us and the student were quite miserable. We had done our best to help her integrate and feel comfortable, but with extreme homesickness made worse by her constant contact with unsupportive friends back home and her sister's distancing, she simply was not ready to take on the challenge of being an exchange student. We were heartbroken, confused and offended by the lack of support from our AFS committee. For this reason, we will not host again. But otherwise, my personal experience with AFS-Germany was "ausgezeichnet"!
Yes, I recommend this program
Myiah
10/10

AFS: Better than the rest

When abroad with AFS on the CBYX Department of state scholarship for the 2014-2016 school year, my experience was an A++. AFS matters. We had the opportunity to meet other exchangers, travel around the country, had a support network and attended camps throughout the year. AFS helps students become immersed in their exchange communu=itys while providing paid trips, 24/7 on phone emergency contact, and a mentor who is a part of the respective country of study. Better hope your place in the Leipzig chapter, they're the coolest! I meet Step In, Flag and other exchangers with other programs. No one is happier than an AFSer!

How can this program be improved?
AFS can do a better job of screening students to host families. Its the families which hand pick the students they wish to host. If a student doesn't like their placement, they can always change! AFS is flexable.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Maria
10/10

An unforgettable year

My year abroad to Germany is something I could do over and over again. The events I've witnessed, the scenery I've admired, the people I've crossed paths with, the food I salivated for, the family that became a permanent pillar in my life--an experience like that can't be replicated in any other way.

I was placed in a village in Northeastern Germany. On weekends, I'd bike an hour through the countryside to reach an ancient castle, amidst a garden. I would proceed to eat cake and drink tea and enjoy the nature and history around me. Other times I would take a train to a different city or part of Germany and absorb everything it has to offer.

I plunged into the culture and it accepted me. When living in a different country, you have to let go of your morals, your traditions, and misconceptions. When you let the country's culture overtake your own, you will be treated as part of the community. It's a wonderful, satisfying feeling.

Leaving home at a young age made me learn a lot about myself and how capable I can be in certain situations. A trip abroad will change a person. If someone denies this, they haven't truly immersed themselves in their new life.

I would strongly reccomend going abroad. Especially to Germany. I've been to several countries, I've lived in a few. But my heart belongs to Germany. The people are hearty, warm, and strong. They work but they like to enjoy life too.

AFS was hands on, always there if you needed them. They constantly interacted with the students and helped them see more of Germany.

I know I'm writing about AFS, but I must mention that I recently came from a year exchange in Japan with a different organization. It was horrible. I didn't appreciate AFS as much as I do now. They stay in touch with you even after the program ends and give you opportunities for activities and travels beyond that.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Melissa
10/10

Das Leben der Stadt

My year abroad was--FANTASTIC! I studied abroad on the Speedwell Scholarship through AFS and had the best time of my life. I did face some challenges with my first host family, but overcame them and moved to a wonderful family living in inner city Cologne, Germany. Life in the city was exciting and new for a country bumpkin like myself! Some of the best times I had while abroad were spent at exchange student camps and traveling with amazing people from all over the world. This experience of independence, exploration, and inner-exploration changed my life in amazing ways. Plus, it gives me an edge in school and on college applications! Take the plunge and spend a year abroad! Your life will be changed!

How can this program be improved?
Give the host families more training and really screen them beforehand. My first host family was in no way prepared to take on an exchange student. Should an exchange student be placed in an unfriendly environment such as the one I was placed in, AFS should really help the student in changing the host family. One committee was very helpful and I was very grateful, while my own committee just stood by and watched.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Jessica
10/10

Best year of my life

Not a single day goes by that I don't think about my year abroad. I lived a life of a minority, by attending a school with a predominant Turkish school and living with a Turkish family. By living in another family, I was able to grow into a new person and learn adaptability. I had an experience of having siblings and a HUGE extended family that lived so close by. It was like nothing I was used to. Having my life turned upside down and nothing seeming normal, has made me a better person. The family and friends I now have in Berlin, makes it a magical city, and I would not of had that if it wasn't for

Yes, I recommend this program

About AFS-USA

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...