Foreign Exchange Student?

I live in the US and am looking for a program that will take me to Australia or England. So im looking for people that have been an exchange student before.

What program did you use?

How expensive was it?

Do you recommend me using that program?

And Was there anything you didn't like about it?

And if you have any websites that could direct me to there website that would be AMAZING!!!

2 Answers

  • mari
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I was a Rotary exchange student in Ecuador from 1999-2000, and it was an absolutely awesome experience. I would definitely recommend the Rotary exchange program, although if you're set on going to either Australia or England, it might not be the best choice for you. The Rotary program is not very well developed in England, and consequently very few exchange students go there every year. Some students do exchange to Australia, but not a ton I don't think.

    I know that it might be scary to think about throwing yourself headfirst into another culture where you don't speak the language, but I encourage you to at least consider going to a non-English speaking country. It's an amazing, albeit challenging, experience that I would not trade for anything. I took four years of Spanish in high school, so I knew some Spanish when I got to Ecuador, but there were people who were in my exchange group who knew only a few phrases in Spanish and they were fine! By being immersed in the language, you have no choice but to learn it, and you will learn it much faster than if you tried to just take a class or use CDs or books.

    Like I said above, I went with the Rotary exchange program. There are, in my opinion, huge advantages to the Rotary program, and some potential disadvantages, depending on your preferences. The advantages are that it's much, much cheaper than going with AFS or YFU, which are two other large exchange organizations. Rotary is organized locally (at the club/district level), so price will vary depending on where you live. AFS and YFU are national organizations that have one price for everyone, but unfortunately that's about $10,000 for a year's exchange. When I went, my parents paid $3,500 for the whole year, including airfare, travel insurance, passport, etc. I also got a $40 a month allowance while I was in Ecuador, paid by the local Ecuadorian Rotary Club. Rotary is able to be a less expensive program for two reasons: 1) They don't pay their host families, so they can cut a huge expense out of the costs that families pay, and 2) The organization is largely volunteer-run, whereas AFS and YFU have quite a few paid staff members, recruiters, and of course host families. Rotary arranges host families as a true exchange -- you will almost always be exchanging with a member of the host family you stay with. My host sister did her exchange in Minnesota (although not with my family) while I stayed with her family in Ecuador. The cost that I paid, $3,500, was about 8 years ago, so prices have probably increased, but Rotary has scholarships that it can offer to families who could otherwise not afford to send their child on an exchange. I also knew other Rotary students from the US who had their entire program cost paid for by the sponsoring club. You'll have to check with your local Rotary Club to see how much they charge and which countries they do exchanges with.

    Some of the "disadvantages" of Rotary are that you might not get to pick the exact country that you go to. If you are dead set on a certain country, you probably shouldn't go with Rotary. Most clubs have a similar procedure for assigning students to countries. The students make a short list (mine was 4 countries long), and those are your top choices for countries. Then you make a check by all the other countries that aren't in your top 4, but you would consider going to. The more flexible you are, the more likely they are to pick you for their program. Not only do they have the common problem of too many students wanting to go to a certain host country, but they are also looking for someone who will roll with the punches, which is a mark of a good exchange student. (In my group, a ton of people wanted to go to Europe, but there are only a certain number of spots, so not everyone can go to Europe.) My top 4 countries were Chile, Venezuela, Argentina and Spain, and they sent me to Ecuador! In all honesty, I can't imagine having done my exchange anywhere else, and I am not one bit upset or disappointed I wasn't sent to one of my top 4 countries.

    Another disadvantage of Rotary, for certain people, is that it can be a quite competitive program. You have to be a good student, and there is a fairly lengthy interview process involved. In my opinion though, it's totally worth it. The AFS students I knew in Ecuador didn't like their host families as much, and their host families were hosting multiple students at a time -- one family was hosting 4 students, because obviously they make money doing it. Rotary families tend to be more enthusiastic about the idea of exchange, because they don't have the motivator of being paid to host students. The Rotary Club in Ecuador took the exchange students (there were about 100 of us in Ecuador that year) on a trip once a month, so we pretty much saw the whole country in bits and pieces. That won't necessarily happen in all countries, but Rotary tends to be pretty organized and they will usually have at least one big trip for the exchange students during the year.

    Ummm... well you probably have more information that you ever expected to get on Yahoo Answers, haha! I am really enthusiastic about exchange and think everyone should do it! I think Rotary is a great program, but AFS and YFU are also reputable, and if you can afford them, I don't see any reason you shouldn't consider going with them either.

    Like I said, Rotary exchange isn't a nationally organized thing, at least in terms of specific details like cost, countries, application deadlines, etc., so there's no one website I can point you towards. I recommend calling your local Rotary Club and asking to be put in touch with the Youth Exchange Coordinator, who will be able to give you more specific information about the program in your area.

    AFS's website is:

    YFU's website is:

    Feel free to send me an e-mail with any specific questions you have. I'd be happy to answer them!

    NOTE TO FEISTY: When I was in Ecuador, I was told by AFS students that their families were paid, and I was under the impression that YFU also paid their families. The bottom line is, AFS and YFU are both near $10,000 for a year's exchange, which is not affordable for many families.

    Source(s): Rotary Exchange Student to Ecuador 1999-2000
  • Feisty
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Hey .. While Mari gave some really GREAT info, I do need to correct one thing she said -- that AFS and YFU host families are paid. Host families are NOT paid! There is a $50/month tax deduction (for a charitable organization) that you can claim on your income tax, but that's IT!

    Mari ... please check your sources a bit before putting out information on programs you're not familiar with! Stick to those you know something about!

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