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AFS Intercultural Programs: High School Abroad in France

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Social Life

    9

A Wonderful Experience in an Amazing Country

My most memorable experiences are probably the times I spent with the other AFS participants, as it broke the routine of life each time I saw them. We were able to share our lives with the others and give advice. We all became friends so quickly, and I had fun whenever I saw them.

I chose AFS because I was familiar with it. The AFS participants who live in my area of the US convene in my town, and my family has often hosted students for a night or two over those weekends.

I was much younger than most participants, and so many options for countries were closed to me. I wanted to go to Europe because I have a European Union citizenship, and because the culture does not differ from American as much as that of Ghana's. I chose France because of the language.

I lived a large house. I had my own bedroom with a large comfortable bed. The house was kept clean.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    N/A

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    5

A Wonderful Experience in an Amazing Country

First of all, I suggest you read my comments on the academics and program administration. They are fairly concise and important.

I would not say I loved my study abroad experience. It wasn't easy, the stress of thinking about the school year to follow back home was overwhelming, and most of it is simply routine. But what it did was give me insight to the world that I didn't have when I left. I now speak another language, I know things about French politics that most people don't, and I met so many people. Not all of them are the kinds of people I enjoy spending time with, but they all brought something to my year in France.

AFS is nice because you get to meet people from all over the world. There were no other Americans in my area after December, and I managed to bond with people from all over the world, all while speaking another language. I now have faces assigned to things that I used to think of no more than in terms of their political relationships with my own country. My host family was excellent, and I couldn't have been happier with them.

Living Situation:
My host family was the nicest family anyone could ask for. My host mother was a teacher, so her vacations coincided with mine. The kids could be difficult to handle but they were nice. I got very attached to their cats.

Cultural Immersion:
You spend almost no time with anyone from your country.

Program Administration:
AFS has a huge volunteer support that is generally the one to organize and lead outings. They are all very well-meaning people, but they are only volunteers, and errors of communication are relatively common.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health and Safety

    N/A

  • Social Life

    N/A

AFS: A year in France

AFS was an excellent program. The aspect of living with a host family was incredible, it really forces you to completely you to completely immerse yourself in someone else's lifestyle and culture and you really learn a lot, things you would never expect. Everyone I talked to who were on the program really liked the living situation, AFS really excelled. I still go back and visit my host family still today. The school situation in any country, in my case France, is really what you make of it, but it can be a brilliant experience, full of color and different things to what you might be used to, but for just that reason is really lovely. I would recommend AFS to everyone willing to study abroad.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health and Safety

    N/A

  • Social Life

    N/A

Gorgeous campus

I went to Cap d'Ail and Monaco for a month, living at Le Centre mediterranean d'Etudes Francaises. The campus was gorgeous, I met hundreds of students my age from different parts of the world and I was immersed in the culture. After the program I was fluent in French.

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Social Life

    8

10 months in France through AFS

It was a transformative ten months for me. I learned to speak French fluently, I made good friends, and I understood a different way of looking at life through my immersion in French culture. Even though I gained so many beautiful memories from living in France, I think that it's important to say that it was a roller coaster of joy and unhappiness. When every day presents new experiences, you're going to feel a little lost, a little unstable. At the end, you come out knowing yourself and your world better.

AFS is a supportive program that puts an emphasis on safety. I appreciate that I felt well-cared-for throughout my time in France. They have a network of volunteers, and they make sure that there are plenty of people you can talk to. AFS also hosts little get-togethers with the regional AFS students and volunteers. They try to make it fun, but they also check up on how you're doing. At the get-togethers, I could talk with the other AFS students and compare notes about French people, French food, things we loved, and things we didn't like. If you're the only foreign student at a high school, it's good to know that you aren't the only one who finds certain aspects of French culture strange. I made friends with AFS-ers from different states of the U.S., Thailand, Colombia, and Japan, as well as many other countries!

I should mention that my experience with AFS France was a little bit different from the "normal" experience; instead of being matched with a host family, I stayed with a family that my mother knew already. Even with a family connection like I had, it was difficult to adapt to living with different people in a different culture than I was used to. A lot of people I know didn't get along perfectly with their host families. Some people got very young host parents with no children, some people got a bunch of younger siblings, some people ended up in tiny villages with more cows than people, and some people lived in hopping cities. There's really no knowing what kind of experience you'll have because each family is different, and each region has certain things you'll like and some that you won't.

If you're interested in studying in France, I think AFS is a good program to go with. You should know from the beginning that it's going to be a tough, wonderful experience. On the other hand, don't be scared to go for it!

Overall Rating

7/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    6

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    7

Nice Support Network

I really liked my experience in France, although there were more difficult times than I had expected in the beginning. AFS is a really good program if you want to feel safe. On top of having a family, you also have adults who organize parties and check up on you. One of the best parts was getting to meet other students from around the world and exchanging experiences. I'm still in contact with many of them! Yeah, some people complained that AFS wouldn't change their families, and sometimes they made it hard to travel to other countries (I never got permission for a certain country, even after sending the forms and everything!), but I think that all the volunteers are very devoted to helping. Another thing is that the program is kind of expensive, but at least you don't have to worry about having to fend for yourself.

Social Life:
There's a big emphasis on school, but that doesn't mean you can't have a great social life. I think some AFS students had a hard time because they were in tiny villages, but I was at a big school, so it was all right.