Quest Exchange Study Abroad Programs

Quest Exchange

About

Quest Exchange helps high school students expand their worldview through the adventure of study abroad. As a nonprofit, we are able to make international study possible for more students, with affordable prices and various program lengths from a few weeks to an academic year. We have solid partnerships with trusted receiving organizations, where students are paired with supportive host families and local schools. All of our professional staff members have studied abroad, learned new languages and are passionate about bringing the same opportunity to adventurous, independent and mature high school students.

Founded
1999
Headquarters

United States

Reviews

Default avatar
Joanne
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Our son is based in Spain for his senior year in high school. He is having an amazing time. Jeannette and the crew at Quest have been so easy to work with and have answered all of our questions, and believe me we had a lot! They made the whole process almost flawless, the visa for Spain took some work but that is not Quest, it is the Spanish Consulate and their process. Overall, we would use Quest again and we are going to send our youngest son through them when the time comes. I would highly recommend.

What would you improve about this program?
Spanish Visa process needs some help.
Default avatar
Jenna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I remember dreaming of becoming an exchange student months before I thought it was possible. Quest really helped me and my family make this dream a reality! I had the experience of a lifetime, I've made friends I still talk to daily (nearly 2 years later!), I learned, I saw, and I would do it again in a heartbeat! I urge high school students everywhere; if you have the opportunity to study abroad, please, please do it!
I was so lucky to have been placed in the beautiful Vienna, Austria. It was super easy to get around because the public transportation there is super clean and efficient (hard to believe for Americans, I know), the food was delicious and not too unfamiliar, the culture was rich and exciting, and every day I learned something new. I still dream of this wonderful city and I long for the day I can come back.
Quest was very helpful, affordable, and made things a lot easier for me and my family. I strongly recommend using this program when thinking about studying abroad!

Hailey
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Before leaving, I had no worries. I was full of excitement and adventure-until I got there. As soon as I landed, I experienced a feeling I never thought would happen to me:culture shock. I thought I knew everything I needed to know about the country, but still I did not feel well and became very nervous the first week I was there. But please do not let culture shock scare you off. I almost wanted to go home because of it. I would have missed out on so many amazing experiences if I left after my first week. The Quest Exchange staff was there for me and after talking to them and getting help from them, I had a great time for the rest of the time that I was there. In fact, it was the best time of my life. I met so many fantastic people. Eventhough there was a language barrier, I still became close with my host families and friends at school and in the end it was hard to leave. I am very glad I got to have this adventure even if it was only for a short time. I will definitely be back in the future. All in all, Quest Exchange was great in making sure I had a safe and fun time while abroad. If you are reading this and considering going abroad I say: Do it and don't let irrational fear stand in your way.

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Jonas
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Here's some tips, learning a new language is really hard but just have fun with it and it will come, if your teachers feel bad for you they will give you better grades, don't be afraid to talk to random people on the street to make new friends, and if a Spaniard is yelling at you -- that's just how they communicate so get used to it. These are some tips that I picked during my 5 month stay in Spain through Quest. I found Quest while searching for exchange programs for the second half of my senior year. I't turned out Quest was local for me and a great choice. As a smaller company they were able to keep things very personal, leading up to my trip, during my exchange, and after my return. My quest counselor (for lack of a better word) was Mei Jardstrom. From my first information request she kept in contact with me through email, 1 on 1 Skype interviews, and threw my parents. During my time in Spain I mostly worked with the local program for my country but in the background Quest was staying in contact and assisting me throughout my time there. I had a great experience with this program and would highly recommend it if you want a smaller, more personalized experience rather then a large industrial program such as AFS.

What would you improve about this program?
The only issue I had was I did not get much assistance while applying for my student visa which is a difficult and confusing fiasco of bureaucracy and long lines.
Response from Quest Exchange

You're right Jonas that practicing with locals and taking it easy on yourself are key to improving your foreign language. And yes, you may have to adjust to higher volumes while abroad!

We agree that the visa process for Spain is not the most straightforward; we found it difficult to contact the consulate about booking appointments since they outsource their customer service to a different company. Now we are recommending that students secure appointments even before receiving placement information, to avoid any potential backlog.

Thanks for your insight and advice for future students!

Mei

Kaylie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This was truly an experience of a lifetime! There are so many great memories I got to have this summer because of studying abroad. From exploring the Grand Palace, to learning to communicate in Thai, to making new friends, to visiting temples, Thailand has definitely stolen my heart! I think traveling, especially as a high school student, is such an important experience because, at least for me, it has made me so much more confident and excited for the future. Even though the program I participated in was only 2 months long, it gave me insight into living independently, which I can only assume will help in the future. Being exposed to so many new traditions and culture has changed the way I think and see the world. It has allowed me to grow in a way that most people don't ever get to do. I cannot recommend this program enough. I have made so many great memories and lifelong friends and people I can call family, even though they are 1/2 way around the world. If you are looking for a place full of a rich, unique culture, full of happy, kind, and respectful people, the Land of Smiles is a fantastic choice! I think the only advice I can give is to just embrace the opportunity, the opportunity to travel, to be immersed in another culture, and to make lifelong friends. It is an experience of a lifetime that I know I will never forget!

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Programs

Displaying 1 - 3 of 3

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Hailey Strier

Hailey is a junior in high school with a passion for travel and learning languages.

Why did you choose this program?

Quest Study Abroad in South Korea

I choose this program because I wanted to do something fun and different while still in high school. I also love South Korea and have wanted to experience the culture for a long time.

I wanted to see what life was like in the stunning city of Seoul from a native's perspective.

I wanted to find out what they do on a day-to-day basis, not just what landmarks I'd visit if I was there as a tourist.

Someday, I hope to do this sort of thing with many different countries; experience everyday life in another's shoes.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

The wonderful program providers helped me a lot. They made sure I knew what to pack and they assigned someone to pick me up at the airport and a few host families for me to stay with on the weekends.

They also found me a wonderful school. Considering my age I did not have to organize many things on my own, except for passport information or talking to my home school about the trip.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

My advice would be to stay calm. Even if something doesn't go as planned it will be okay. If there was anything I wish I knew ahead of time it would be to pack light. The program directors told me to pack light, so I did, or so I thought I did.

Turns out my idea of light wasn't as light as I should have packed. If you think it's light enough-pack even lighter.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

I was in a boarding school for this program so a day or week as a participant was spent mostly at school. Everyone at my school was really nice, so I didn't mind spending most of my time there.

We did a lot of fun activities too, like bike riding, soccer, and painting. We went on a lot of school trips to museums, Olympic parks, and even a bowling alley for gym class. This program was great at picking a perfect school for my time in South Korea.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it and/or how did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was getting lost in the country and having my phone die and when I look in my wallet all my money is gone. When I got to Korea I quickly realized I was being overdramatic.

Down every street corner there is an entrance to the best subway system in the world. The subway system is super inexpensive and easy to follow, much easier than Boston's. All you need to have Seoul in the palm of your hand, is a T-money card.

What is your favorite memory from your time abroad?

I can not possibly choose one story, so I will narrow it done to a three:

  • When I met my new friend Yeji. Yeji and I became really close during my time there and spent almost everyday talking and laughing.
  • When my host brother told me I am really good at English, so I told him he is really good at Korean.
  • And finally, when I sat around a campfire with my host family while my host sister played the ukulele.
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Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Mei Jardstrom

Job Title
Program Manager
Mei manages Quest's international study programs for American high school students. She works closely with students and their families to help make these exciting experiences possible for them!
woman smiling at grand canyon

What is your favorite travel memory?

This would be when I did “vendemmia” - the grape harvest - when I lived in Italy. It’s not memorable because it was storybook-like, but precisely because of how different this experience was than how I expected it to be. I had imagined stomping grapes with my bare feet in the gorgeous countryside I Love Lucy-style, but the vendemmia was comical in how unromantic it actually was!

I asked to join in on the harvest of a friend’s family vineyard. For 3 days I got up at the crack of dawn to ride into the country in a car full of his all-male friends. It was over 30°C every day, and we had to dress up head to toe to protect ourselves from the sticky vines and the stinging wasps eating the grapes. The boys complained all day about the work, and in true Italian style my friend’s father would yell and gesticulate at the boys for being lazy, while his saintly wife kept smile on her face, preparing focaccia sandwiches every day for lunch. At the end of each day we were sticky, sweaty and tired. But I loved being an insider in my new home, and doing something that was unromantic, difficult and tiring, but fun!

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

A successful company needs a solid mission that the staff believes in and works toward. Quest staff members are passionate about fulfilling our mission to promote cultural awareness and international understanding through our study programs. We do this not just because it’s a job, but because it makes us feel great! Even if we have to spend a little more time helping a parent or student understand program offerings and prepare them with what to expect from study abroad, that’s okay because this extra time go towards accomplishing the mission.

Remembering how much studying abroad changed me and helped me develop as a person, I’m inspired to bring this opportunity to the independent and mature teenagers that seek this. By forming Quest with other individuals that have shared similar experiences, our mission drives us!

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I have gained so much admiration for the students that choose to participate in the Quest program. It really takes will and courage to do something different from everybody else in your high school.

All Quest staff have lived abroad, but I did not even know that study abroad was an option when I was in high school, and many students that contact us find us through independent research.

I’ve spoken with a student that used her mock trial class skills to formally petition her parents, and another that used some of her own funds from her part-time job and prepared a PowerPoint to convince her parents to let her study abroad! Each qualified student in their own way proved to their family and school that they want and deserve this exciting international experience.

What unique qualities does your company possess?

It doesn’t get much more personal than Quest. As you can see on our website, we’re a small staff. Our numbers are smaller and more manageable than our competitors, which means that students are more than just numbers - we take the time to get to know you. We will be honest about whether this program is a good option for you, because student safety and success are our top priorities. We have solid partnerships with the foreign organizations that make the host family and school placements, because we have to trust them to care for the students we will send under their care.

There are many steps involved in the study abroad process, and Quest guides you from choosing your program to helping you get there. All students should be happy with their decision to live abroad, We often receive pictures and stories of our students abroad that brighten up our day!

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

Our study abroad alumna Madison went to the Netherlands – you can see her testimonial here on our Go Overseas page. She was able to visit the town where her family came from, and it was exciting for her to get back to her roots. Not only did she love her experience and wants to encourage others to study abroad, but she has maintained a very close relationship with her Dutch host sister. Her host sister was able to visit her home in the U.S., and we found out later that the two even have a trip to Thailand planned in the near future! This shows how when you live abroad, you can really make friends for life. It’s up to you to put yourself into new and foreign situations, and when you do you will be amazed at the connections that you can make with people in a completely different part of the world.

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