G'day mate! Welcome to the land down under, Australia! Home to the friendly Aussies, the Great Barrier Reef, kangaroos and cuddly koalas! If you're looking for a fun and exciting study abroad destination and find yourself morbidly curious about that Vegemite stuff, consider Oz! Australia is a fun option for anyone looking to study abroad, but a great destination for high school students. If you're looking to ease yourself into life abroad while still experiencing a fun new culture, fly around the world to Australia!
When planning to study abroad, it's important to pick a program that best suits your needs and offers the amount of support you want. Programs such as CIEE, AFS-USA Intercultural Programs and CCI Greenheart are popular options among high school students studying abroad. Some examples of different programs are:
- Exchange Student Program: One of the most popular options for high school study abroad is to take part in an exchange program. Students attend the local public (or private) high school and take classes such as English, math, science, history, art and a foreign language with their Aussie peers. Exchange programs are typically either for a semester (about six months) or the academic year (about 11 months).
- Summer Classes Abroad: If you want to visit down under but don't want to spend six months to a year abroad, a summer program may be a better fit for you. Summer programs typically last for a month and many include a service project or volunteer opportunity with the main focus on traveling and sightseeing. While some summer programs offer academic credit for those interested, you'll still have plenty of time to practice the didgeridoo and work on your boomerang toss!
Planning Your Trip
Before you sign up for that amazing trip abroad, think about the requirements and pre-departure planning. Many high school programs are very helpful and will do a lot of the preparation for you, such as securing accommodations, but there are a few things that only you can do before you leave.
For most high school study abroad programs, participants must be currently enrolled in high school and be between the ages of 15 to 18. Students must also have a GPA of roughly 2.75 (out of 4.0) and have a passport at the time of applying.
For students taking part in an exchange program, it is common to stay with a host family. Typically this family will live near your school (and possibly have kids about your age!) and provide three meals a day. A short home stay is also a possibility for those who are participating in a summer program. However, if your itinerary involves a lot of traveling, you may be staying in hotels, hostels or camping in the Australian Outback! If you do have a home stay, here's a tip- bring your family a gift. It doesn't need to be expensive, but something that represents your home. Are you from New York? How about an “I
One of the most time consuming pre-departure activities for students is applying for a passport and a visa. Anyone traveling to Australia from outside the country will need a passport. The passport application process takes about six to eight weeks and can cost roughly $135. For students studying down under for a semester or full academic year, you will probably need a student visa. Australia has several different tiers of student visas, but high school students taking part in an approved exchange in Australia will most likely need to apply for a Schools Sector: Temporary Visa (Subclass 571). Students who opt to travel below the equator for a summer program may not need a visa. However, if you are taking part in any kind of volunteer work, a visitor visa may be required, in which case your program should notify you. When applying for any visa, remember the entire process can take about six to eight weeks and cost from $100 to $350, so budget accordingly!
Before you jet off for your amazing study abroad sesh' with the koalas, wallabies and dingos, be sure to crunch some numbers. Program fees for a semester abroad are roughly $11,000 to $13,000, while a full academic year program can cost around $14,000 but can be as high as $30,000. A summer program can range from $3,000 to $7,000. This program fee typically includes round-trip airfare, transportation to and from the airport, three meals a day with your host family and health insurance. The cost of living down under is slightly higher than that in America, so it's important to budget wisely to ensure you have enough spending cash.
Several programs recommend budgeting $100 to $300 spending cash per month, although with the currency exchange to the Australian Dollar, it may be smart to budget on the high end. Don't forget most high school students in Australia wear uniforms, so save about $300 for yours! If funds are tight, several programs offer early bird program fees and offer scholarships specifically for their program, such as the High School Abroad scholarship offered by Greenheart Travel. Also consider fundraising for your trip by using a site like GoFundMe!
Top Reasons to Study Abroad in Australia
Studying abroad is typically associated with college, but there is no reason why high school students should miss out on the fun! Here are a few reasons why you should consider going abroad while you're still in high school (you can go again in college, don't worry!).
- It will look great on a college application. Whether you studied down under for a year, six months or spent a month traveling and volunteering over the summer, taking the initiative to explore the world at a young age will make you a standout applicant when applying to college! Think about it, you can write your college essay about your struggles learning to play the didgeridoo or the time you volunteered with baby koalas!
- You may discover what you are passionate about. Maybe after visiting an Aboriginal Dreamtime Cultural Center in Australia, you discover a love for anthropology. Or maybe after volunteering on a nature preserve, an interest in environmental science emerges. Traveling at a young age is an awesome way to discover what you're interested in, and maybe help you decide on a college major and potential career path!
- Broaden your social circle. In high school, it's easy to make a group of friends and stick with 'em for the next four years. That's awesome, but you know what else is really cool? Meeting students (just like you!) from around the world. Wouldn't it be great if you made some life-long fair dinkum Aussie friends? Think about it, you would always have a place to stay in Oz!
- Learn a new language. If English isn't your first language, Australia is a great destination for working on your language skills. However, even if English is your native tongue, you'll have to learn the language of the locals! For example: "Ah, Sheila, I'm such a dag! I got a cuppa on my daks during brekkie! Strike a light!" Understand? EXACTLY.