Here are some of the most common questions about an exchange with STS – and their answers.
If you have other questions or need more answers, contact us. We will gladly help you!
Our students need to be achieving at an average to above level across all subjects during the last three years (or the years that they have received grades). If you have below average results please contact us and we will do an individual evaluation. Maybe you can be an exception to the rule.
Health is important, but we always want to help students with allergies or previous medical problems. Everyone is unique and we will make an individual evaluation of your possibilities.
Of course! Let us know which sport you would like to play when you apply and we will do our best to find a school where you can practice your interest.
This is completely up to each and every school. They all have their own rules and regulations. Some schools let their exchange students participate in the graduation ceremony, but without getting an official diploma. In some cases, you can ask your school for a transcript of your courses and grades.
In most countries, you will attend public schools. The difference between public and private schools differs between countries.
That is something you need to discuss with your school before you depart New Zealand. We do recommend you keep a record of all that you study while on exchange to bring back to New Zealand with you to show to your school.
Yes, in some of our host countries you can state in your application that you wish to be placed in a certain region or city. There will be an additional fee if you get the placement you wished for.
In most cases, this is fine. If you want to organize your own host family, let us know and we will be happy to help you and give you all the information you need. However, your own host family will have to undergo the same inspections that we carry out for our host families, even if you organize it yourself.
This depends on which country you are going to and when you applied to the program. The sooner we receive your application, the sooner we can start the process of finding you a suitable host family. Most of our exchange students who leave in early autumn are placed in June-August, sometimes earlier. However, it's not uncommon to find out who your host family is just a week or so before you leave, so don't worry if you don't know who your host family is even if you're only a few weeks away from leaving. Our colleagues in each country take great care to match you with the ideal host family to give you the best possible conditions for your exchange.
Congratulations, you're accepted to the programme! Once accepted you will be guided in applying for your visa and we will notify you as soon as your placement has been confirmed. You are on your way to the adventure of your life!
Yes, no matter where you go, we have a local representative at your location. It is the local area representative who works to approve our host families, have contact with schools and will be your supporter and advisor during your exchange year.
Of course! Your local area representative and school often arrange trips that are very popular to join. When your exchange year is over you can use the extra month that is included in your visa to travel around.
As a part of your application you write a personal letter, and give a presentation of who you are and what you like. Our host families choose the student that they feel will fit the best into their family and routines. Give your personal letter some extra attention to enhance the chances of the perfect match. Be sure to explain all your interests and weekly activities!
We put a lot of emphasis on accepting the right host families. After the host families apply, we interview them, visit their home and collect references. Many of our host families are experienced and used to having an exchange student in their home. What they all have in common is a genuine interest in cultural exchange. Just like you!
The process of applying for an STS Exchange is very straight forward and we are there, at your side, all the way if you have any questions. Here you can read more about the steps in the process.
We recommend that you apply nice and early to secure your spot. The earlier you register the better, to allow plenty of time for the right host family to be located for you. Our recommendation is to apply well in advance, preferably one year before you plan to leave, to be guaranteed a spot. Of course, you can also apply at a later date, but no later than the end of April. A late application may also be subject to an additional fee.
The easiest way to apply is to visit the page of your favourite destination and click the "Apply now" button. You will then receive more information on how to book a personal interview with us. Your application is not binding, and you make your final decision once you have been accepted.
There are some costs in addition to the program fee that you are responsible for as a customer. These include insurance, visa costs, health screening, possible currency surcharges and costs for a possible school uniform, school lunch, school bus, club fees, optional trips during your exchange year, pocket money and personal expenses. Late application fees for an exchange year may also entail additional costs. Please contact us if you would like to know more and we can tell you what applies to the destination you are interested in.
Whether or not you can get credit for your year as an exchange student depends on your home country and where you go. This means that some people can continue their high school studies as usual in the same class they left when they return home, and others need to start where they left off before they left for their year abroad. Contact us or talk to your school to find out what applies to you.
Yes, you must have a valid passport to go on a high school exchange whether you go for 3 months or 10 months. When you travel to the US, you must have a biometric passport (i.e. with a data chip). The passport must also be valid for at least 6 months after you return home. If your passport expires before then, you should get a new one as soon as possible. Also make sure that your passport is not damaged in any way and that it does not have any missing pages. Repairs with tape and glue are of no use – you will need a new passport.
It is compulsory for anyone traveling to the US under the Visa Waiver Program to register their trip online (ESTA) at least 72 hours before departure. We will send visa information to our US students when it is time to do ESTA. The cost of the visa is your responsibility.
If you are going to Canada for a study trip, you must apply for an ETA before you leave. This is done online, and we will send you information when it is time. The cost is your responsibility.
Remember not to pack too much. You'll want to buy clothes and other things once you're at your destination. But some things are still good to bring along.
To give you the perfect introduction, your exchange at almost all destinations starts with the STS Welcome Camp, which is included in the program fee. All of our Welcome Camps take place in well-known cities and last for a couple of days. Which city it will be for you depends on where you will be doing your exchange year. The cities in which we hold our Welcome Camps may vary from year to year.
At our Welcome Camp you will meet other students who are also on their adventures of a lifetime. You will all take part in interesting workshops and activities on various topics that may be helpful to you during your exchanges: how to deal with homesickness, adjusting to a new home, what to do if you need help or support and more.
Read more about Welcome Camp under each destination
STS will book your tickets, so you don't have to worry about that. All you need to do is let us know if you want to travel by train or plane to your destination.
As all our students depart from their homes when they start their journeys, most students travel on their own and there will be no STS leaders on your journey to your destination. When changing trains or flights at major destinations, there may be more students on the same trip, so please use your yellow STS backpack provided by us to make it easy to find each other if you end up on the same trip along the way.
When you arrive in your host country, we or your host family will meet you on the train platform or at the airport where together, we will travel to your host family.
Yes, you do. We recommend that you buy insurance with DR-Walter, which specializes in this type of travel and insurance. You can also use your own insurance, but it must first be approved by the school and sometimes also by the host country to which you are going.
Read more under Booking and Payment
We recommend that you have at least USD 400/EUR 400 per month of pocket money. Be prepared that at the beginning of your stay, you may need more than this because you may need to buy books, bus passes, phone cards and more.
Remember never to borrow money from your host family or friends.
As an exchange student, you will be confronted with many new impressions and experiences. Some things may feel different and some things may feel like home. In these situations, it is important that you keep an open mind and respect that you are now experiencing a completely different culture where there are others who set the rules instead of your parents.
You must follow our rules. The rules are there for your safety, and if you don't follow them, you will have to go home no matter how long or short your exchange year is. There is no refund if you have to go home because you have broken the rules.
For example, you can't drink alcohol, take drugs, get a tattoo or get a piercing while you're away. You are also not allowed to drive a car or moped/motorcycle or take a paid job. However, feel free to get involved by volunteering in an area you are passionate about.
At your host family’s home, you’ll be expected to help with everyday chores, as well as joining them for dinner, spending time with the family and joining in their activities. Your host family is responsible for you throughout your stay, and it is important that you listen to what they have to say. With an open dialogue, you will come to an agreement on what is right for you. One tip is to ask your host family on the first day of your stay what their expectations are of you.
Yes, your parents are welcome to visit you and your host family during your exchange year, but only at the end of your exchange. However, your parents cannot expect to stay with the host family and must arrange for their own accommodation during their visit.
No, when you go on an exchange year with STS, we book all your travel. Then, as the departure date approaches, we will send you all your tickets. We will book your trip home only when your return trip is approaching.
All host families are different. Some have children, others do not. Some are religious, others are not. But they have one thing in common. They want this to be the best year of your life!
Your host family is responsible for you throughout your stay, so they set the rules, like when you should be home and what you are expected to help with around the house. They will provide your food and living expenses. Other costs such as hygiene items, bus passes, leisure activities, travel, clothes and more are your own responsibility.
Usually, you must be between 14 and 18 years old when you start your exchange year. This can vary depending on the school system in different countries. You can find more information on the pages of the country you are interested in.
Please note that there may be additional fees if you have reached the age of 18.
High School Classic is the traditional high school exchange program. It’s the perfect program for you if you want a genuine high school experience abroad and are ready to embrace all the surprises and experiences that may bring. Based on your profile, you will be paired with a host family and a school in your chosen country. You will be placed in a class that best suits your age, language skills and academic level.
If you choose the High School Select program, your stay abroad is completely in your own hands and in many cases, you can decide both the city and the exact school you want to attend. For example, if you want to take special lessons in art, media, extra languages, sports, or play a musical instrument, you can find what you're looking for in our wide range of Select schools.
But whatever you choose, both options will give you the best year of your life.
Many students who choose to book their exchange year through our Select program would like to stay in a larger city. But in our experience, it's actually better to stay in a slightly smaller town because it's easier to get to know new people.
At STS we have a placement guarantee. This means that we ensure that all our students can depart and get to experience an exchange year abroad. In the unlikely event that we cannot find a school or host family for you at your chosen destination, you will be offered an alternative destination. It is a great advantage to apply early so that we have more time to find the best possible match between you and the host family.
You can go whenever it suits you! After year 9, to continue high school with the same class, or as a break between your first or second year of high school – as long as you are the right age in the country to which you want to travel.