AFS Year High School Abroad in India

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About

Year: Get a full dose of cultural immersion while studying abroad in India for a full year. This program offers a truly unique opportunity to live with a host family while attending a local high school. Attending school in India for an entire academic year will be an intense and rewarding experience, as Indians take their education very seriously. For teens in India, dating is very unusual, and physical contact or hugging is uncommon, except within the family. Like many other countries, a lot of time is spent at school or studying, so you will have the opportunity to grow very close with classmates. Students in India must choose between a number of “streams” (engineering, medical, commerce, or arts). AFSers may choose one of these streams with their host school based upon interest, academic background, and space available at the school. In the engineering stream, students take physics, chemistry, mathematics, and two electives.

Summer Global Prep: This 2 week program is designed for students who want to get a flavor of India by immersing themselves directly into the local culture. This program offers you the opportunity explore India in a new way; explore what it means to go to school in local communities and how India has become a global leader in education. Additional activities will be offered for insight into various aspects of Indian culture, which include a study in local arts, sports, cuisine and more. India is still a rather hierarchical society based on respect, and teachers and leaders continue to occupy a very high and dignified place in society. This is reflected in the value that Indians place on education, and the amount of time that students spend on academics. The language classes will be complemented by time in the community either independently, with fellow AFSers, or with your host family. Through immersing yourself in Indian culture and daily life, you will be able to contextualize your language lessons and increase their impact further.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

92%
based on 10 reviews
  • Growth 9.5
  • Support 7.5
  • Fun 8.9
  • Housing 8.7
  • Safety 9.4
Showing 1 - 10 of 10
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McKenna
9/10

My Year in India

I would strongly suggest that participants are given more freedom. I wasn’t allowed to go nearly anywhere until February of my exchange which did not leave much time to truly explore my surroundings. But what I did explore I absolutely love. I wasn’t able to see much more than the city where I lived and two other regions and in a country like India it should really be facilitated for students to see more for a complete understanding of Indian culture because there are so many.

How can this program be improved?
The staff of AFS India should be more helpful
Yes, I recommend this program
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Hannah
7/10

White Girl In India

In the Summer of 2017 I packed up a very small bag and headed to New York for my initial student orientation at Long Island University. The orientation was very relaxed and helped to introduce me to my fellow travelers.

We then proceeded to fly across the globe to Delhi, India, where we were greeted by AFS staff and taken to a nearby resort. Our living quarters were quite luxurious and the orientation beyond thorough.

When the program in my host city began, I was without much support from staff or volunteers. This was not the case for most people, and most students had a wonderful AFS family in their host cities. Despite my independence, I managed to create my own network of friends- both foreign and Indian.

AFS India was a smaller entity than many of their other country's operations, so they were visibly limited as to involvement. Despite their size, however, they made sure that we as students were always safe and secure. There was never a moment that I felt lost in the system or in danger.

If I could do the program over again, I would be more vocal to the few volunteers that were with me in my host city regarding the challenges that I was facing, and if anyone is considering embarking on a similar journey, I encourage them to do the same.

India as a location is phenomenal. The people are incredibly diverse and unbelievably welcoming. However, unless you look like an Indian, you will always be noticed, practically wherever you go. It was a difficult adjustment for me, but I soon came to terms with the innocent curiosity that the people had for foreigners.

The food is rumored to be spicy and hard to digest. At first, I agreed with this rumor whole-heartedly. However, after a mere week I came to enjoy it. Compared to American food, it has little diversity, which is also an adjustment. High carb consumption and low calorie intake are also difficult diet factors that I had to adjust to. The taste is great, but it can leave you feeling malnourished to an extent. Be prepared to bring protein powders, and know that Amazon India is a great resource for resupply.

All in all, I saw things that changed my perspective on humanity itself, all the while making relationships that I know will go on for a lifetime.

At the end of my program, we had what felt like two end-stay orientations, the first in Delhi where we spent time reflecting on the past year, and the second visiting the Taj Mahal. Both experiences went smoothly and I regard the memory as a whole as the most fascinating experience of my life thus far, and the beginning of a life-long desire to experience more colorful cultures.

How can this program be improved?
The cities such as my own, where volunteer counts are low, need to be raised. Host families should be more thoroughly prepped as to the challenges that come with hosting a foreign student. AFS should establish a What-To-Bring list that is inclusive of alumni's suggestions. More freedom should be granted to the students who are placed in more ocntorlling chapters, and a greater support base for struggling students should be established. For example, AFS should be quick to identify problems within the host family regarding the student, and help BOTH parties come up with approproate reactions. Finally, the trip to the Taj Mahal was far too short. All students attending agreed that they woul dhave gladly left much earlier in the morning for the opportunity to be there at sunrise and the ability to stay for longer.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Christina
10/10

My India

India, as cheesy as it sounds, was completely life changing. A lot of my personal growth has occurred since I have returned back to the U.S., my home country. While I was in India, I was able to meet so many different people, including exchange students from other countries. This international experience was not like traveling to Europe over the summer with my family, but it truly immersed me in Indian culture and encouraged me to test my own beliefs and values. Often, I came across a person I did not agree with. In the beginning I would always try and prove to them why my opinion was correct, and theirs was wrong. Throughout my exchange, I learned how ineffective this was. Instead, my goal of a conversation would be to help them understand why I believed what I believed as well as for me to understand their thinking. This is one of the most critical things I learned from my time in India. How to not only tolerate but respect others especially when their views or opinions differed from my own. In addition, I suffered from ethnocentric views. This inhibited me from curly being able to see the beauty of other cultures. Living in India for 11 months showed me so much of India which is not usually showed in media in the U.S. which helped develop my genuine love for the country. Finally, the most important part of exchange were the people. Whether I'm talking about my host family, friends, other exchange students, AFS staff, all these people made such a detrimental impact to my exchange and who I am today. As I grow and create new relationships I start to see bits and pieces of other people in myself. Growing in India helped me to become a better person and these bits and pieces have developed me into a more conscious, kind, empathetic and critically thinking human. Of course, I have to give a shoutout to all the amazing people I met through AFS. I will never stop believing that the president of my local AFS chapter in India was the kindest most considerate human I have ever met. Ajay Mehta of the Rajkot, Gujarat chapter showed me more kindness in a time that I needed it most than anyone else. Ajay uncle was someone who all the exchange students agreed always had our best interest at heart. We always knew he would do whatever he could to help any situation possible. Ajay uncle made a difference in my exchange as I felt I have someone who would advocate for me when needed. a year after my exchange, Ajay uncle was in Oregon (where my parents live) for an AFS conference. When he came he was able to stay for dinner with my family which was such an amazing experience. Other people that were important to my exchange were my host family. My host family was the highlight of my time in India. I truly could argue that nobody had a better host family than the Vadgamas! Living with my grandmother, aunt, uncle, two cousins, mom, dad, three sisters and my younger brother, I truly got the traditional Gujarati experience. One of my favorite parts was sleeping on the floor in a common space with my three sisters and little brother all under the same mosquito net. Of course I was offered a bed, but I preferred to sleep with them because it meant I was not getting special treatment, I was a part of the family. My family was so kind and always tried to do things that would expose me to their culture. Living in a big family never got bored and I became incredibly close with my mom and three sisters. We were all the same size so we all shared clothes. Getting ready for festivals was so much fun because they got to dress me up in whatever they had. My sisters were so interested in American culture so we would dress up in my western clothes whenever we got the chance.
I could go on for forever and talk about specific times that were life changing like the time I climbed a mountain in the northern part of India in the middle of winter to the famous Vaishno Devi temple, celebrated 9 days of dancing (Navratri), got off at the wrong bus stop in the middle of nowhere, saw the Taj Mahal and so much more.
India was incredible.

How can this program be improved?
I can only speak to my own experience, but I had no correspondence with AFS USA. I think this was due to the fact that I went through the K-L YES Abroad scholarship, however, there were some complaints that were never completely acknowledged. While I was in India I was in a boarding school. My family and local chapter encouraged me to change to full time with my family. No part of AFS worked with me on changing this.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Natalie
9/10

AFS India

AFS India was good. We had trips organized for us to get a better understand of what India is outside of our home location. The volunteers were kind and willing to help. My year, the YES Abroad participants there were put in boarding schools, which I feel was a mistake. They have since corrected that mistake and Americans are put with normal host families now. They were willing to listen to the pitfalls of my experience and make it better for others. Altogether, I was impressed with AFS India.

How can this program be improved?
I believe that just continuously talking with students there to see what problems are part of day to day life could improve things dramatically.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Megan
10/10

Holi, Cows, and Holy Cows

I just finished my exchange year in Indore, India and I am already missing everything about my life in my second home! I was on a somewhat different program called National Security Language Initiative for Youth, so while I was included in all the typical AFS events and trips, my main focus was learning Hindi at my host school. I loved learning Hindi and spending time with the other exchange students at my school. As a gap year student, I was able to take more cultural classes (classical dance, art, etc.) after my Hindi class each day. I learned so much about the Indian culture so quickly! I loved when I started to understand Hindi--it gave me a much deeper understanding of the culture and allowed me to connect with people I would not have been able to communicate with before due to the language barrier. NSLIY is a great program for anyone who loves language-learning and wants to really get to know a different culture up close. It is for a truly passionate language lover, though. I spent 3 hours a day in Hindi class which was fun for me, but could be too much for someone looking to take a more diverse range of classes with Indian peers.

I am already looking forward to returning to Indore to visit my host family and friends! And, most importantly, eat my favorite street food, pani puri!

How can this program be improved?
At times I felt overly protected. I would have really appreciated it if I could have taken public transportation around the city. Ola (like Uber) is a great way to get around Indore; however, my program officials did not allow us to go around the city on our own. I think that with my Hindi and street smarts I could have easily and safely gotten around the city had I been given the chance. At times I was frustrated because I felt sort of stuck and at the mercy of my school officials to drive me around.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Colin
8/10

The Best Experience Of My Life

I spent my junior year of high school abroad in India through AFS. As the title says, it was the best experience of my life. I can't even picture myself in my old body & soul. I'm a new person thanks to my Indian adventure.

While my experience with AFS was pretty good overall, I do know some people from the same cohort who just didn't click well with the staff at all. There was also a case or two of kids who ended up in horrible host families and were miserable without receiving any help. These scenarios are mostly chapter-specific. Whenever kids tried to contact national office they were given a reply that basically told them to talk to their chapters, which had already yielded nothing, so an infinite loop occurred.

Overall, I did love the program though. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Good or bad, you'll change for the better.

How can this program be improved?
Better support of Liaisons. Sometimes they can be a little overbearing. Also, it could get annoying as we accustomed ourselves to use indirect communication following the host country's styles yet AFS, who encouraged this, also didn't pick up a SINGLE indirect message.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Brooke
10/10

My life changed in India!

Going to India was absolutely incredible! I will never be able to express how much it did for me. I'll always remember arriving to a birthday cake and gift from my sweet host family. Then, the first day, I found myself doing a dance in front of some underprivileged children. For those who know me, I don't dance. So I really was able to do things in India that got me out of my comfort zone. I realized in going to India that it wasn't the Taj Mahal and places that I visited that made India cool, it was the people I met and the culture that I experienced. I learned a ton and will always be grateful for the hospitality of the people there and the friendships I made.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Brita
9/10

Cherished Moments

I never really appreciated all the time I spent in India until a week or two before I left. It happened in a rush, while I was watching a performance with my host family. It was a traditional religious story, complete with dancing and singing. During a short break, we were given a blessed snack. I was lucky enough to receive a mango, a favorite fruit of mine. It was at that moment that I realized that I will truly miss India. I'll miss the unmistakeable, vibrantly colorful culture, represented by the many festivals, or even just the buildings and typical shops. Not to mention my host family and new friends, who supported and cared for me, giving me such valuable memories and teaching me more about myself than I could ever learn on my own. Every day that I spent there became something irreplaceable, and nothing can give you another experience quite like that.

How can this program be improved?
I would change the political structure (the chapter presidents and country president). There was a lot of tension between different groups of people in my city, and it was tied to who held the top power within the city. It should be resolved by this time, but it was a little chaotic while I was there. The rare times I met someone from the headquarters in India, it sometimes didn't go very well. There were some people who weren't very understanding and almost rude.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Abigail
10/10

AFS India Exchange

Going to India was an experience like no other. I met amazing people and experienced some pretty cool things. One of my favorite experiences was exploring the Udai Bilas Palace, which is located in Dungarpur, Rajasthan. A few of my classmates and I took a field trip to the palace one weekend, there we met the Queen and King and their young son who lives in the palace. Though the family no longer rules over anything, except the few acres of land they own, they still keep their titles. While the palace they live in now is stunning, my favorite part was exploring the old palace that was built in the 13th century. Abandoned a few hundred years ago, it is in ruins but the beauty and history can still be seen everywhere. It is five stories high, and with no warning signs or roped off areas in site we were free to explore anywhere we wanted. This was a new experience for me because most historical sites I've been to in my life are carefully monitored by a government or state park. My favorite parts were the elaborate mosaics on the walls and the beautiful views. The thing I found most interesting was a platform near the entrance used for getting on elephants, their form of transportation back then.

How can this program be improved?
I wanted a shorter program but this almost seemed too short. My days always seemed a little rushed because I was trying to do as much as I could before I had to go home. I experienced so many wonderful things in India but I felt like there was so much more I could have experienced if I had been there a little bit longer.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Margaret
10/10

Why I LOVED AFS GP India Summer 2015

In July of 2015, I embarked on the most amazing two weeks of my life with AFS's inaugural Global Prep trip to Ahmedabad, India. My group consisted of myself, four other American students, and our awesome chaperone from the New York AFS office. I had the time of my life on this trip. My host family was welcoming and accommodating, the host school was the most inviting and friendly place I've ever been, and the people were incredibly kind and generous. My favorite memories include learning Hindi from a teacher who refused to speak English to us -- thereby forcing us to be quick students -- and being sent on a bus ride around the city with the other students from school to enjoy the magic of monsoon season. All in all, it was a life-changing experience and I only wish it had lasted much, much longer.

How can this program be improved?
Longer option! I couldn't manage a full summer trip with my schedule, but a month would have been great!

A more detailed itinerary to be given to students before departure would have helped me know what to expect.
Yes, I recommend this program

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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...