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.


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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
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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
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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
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Hello, my name is Angel Reyes and I was part of the 2016-17 Study Abroad program in Japan and may I say it was absolutely amazing! First off, everything was so carefully planned out and the staff was so nice and caring. All the time I was with them I always felt secure and happy as if I was at home, it was only until I had settled in my japanese parents’ house that it actually hit me that I was in Japan(yes I call them my parents)! Everything was so cool and amazing but there was some things that were kind of off. For example, there would be these reunions with all the AFS people and students and they were cool and all but the activities that were held there were not good. It was kind of boring but it was fun to see everyone! That is actually about it everything else was perfect! If you do read this I want to ask this favor, can you communicate with Mana Hashimoto and the people from San Antonio, Marc Patsnier are the best, nicest, awesomest people ever! Without them, my experience in Japan wouldn’t have happened or been as awesome as it was! Thank you so much!

How can this program be improved?
Is it possible to make the reunions while abroad a more interactive thing with many different cool activities? Thank you!!
Yes, I recommend
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This abroad experience in high school was formative in my growth as a teenager. I now work in international exchanges, because of the overwhelmingly positive experience I had on my semester abroad with AFS. Intercultural experience is so important - I learned so much as an exchange student, and while it wasn't all easy by any stretch of the imagination, through the challenges of going abroad I grew as a person.

Yes, I recommend


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