STS High School 14–18 years of age
The warmth of Nordic living

High School in Finland

Age 15-18

Finland's stark Nordic scenery is home to fascinating wildlife, pristine forests, some 200,000 lakes and the world's happiest people, not to mention Europe's top educational system and an extremely high quality of life (and don't forget the saunas).

High School Classic

High School Classic is the traditional high school exchange programme, chosen by most of our students. It is the perfect programme for those who long for a genuine high school experience abroad and who are willing to embrace all the surprises it can bring. Here’s how it works: based on your profile, we find you a suitable host family and school, and the best part is, it can be anywhere in Finland! If you are open to adventure and are willing to let yourself be surprised by your exchange experience, this is the programme for you.

Let's meet

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Welcome to Finland

For the past several years, Finland has topped the list of the world's happiest countries, which might catch many people by surprise. Finnish people tend to be rather reserved and must endure long, cold winters. But scratch beneath the surface and you'll find people that love the outdoors, enjoy the pleasures of winter and know how to have a good time.

Population: 5.5 million
Area: 338,000 km2
Lakes: 188,000
Islands: 40,000
Capital: Helsinki (630,000 inhabitants)
Language: Finnish and Swedish (5% of the population)
Currency: Euro
Country code: +358

Finnish fun, funny Finns

The Finns are warm and genuine. Though they may seem a bit shy at first, once you get to know them better, you’ll find loyal friends and a special and quirky Finnish sense of humour. Good examples of this are the numerous festivals and events that are arranged each year throughout the country, which include the Wife Carrying World Championships, the Air Guitar World Championship and the Swamp Soccer World Championships.

Finnish cuisine is rather similar to other Nordic countries, but still has its own specialties. Most Finnish specialties include salmon or reindeer, but vegetables and meat are also commonly used. Clean, natural food is very important to Finns and most dishes are prepared with fresh ingredients. But of course, Finns like to go out for a pizza or a hamburger on occasion, as well.

World-class education

Finland's school system is famously one of the best in the world, promoting critical thinking and intellectual exploration, rather than repetition and memorisation. There are minimal homework assignments and shorter school days, since free time is seen as a vital part of a healthy and complete education. But although the school atmosphere is generally more relaxed, Finnish students consistently rank among the best in the world for reading, maths and science, so they must be doing something right.

A flexible school system

High school education in Finland provides students with extensive general knowledge and critical thinking abilities, and prepares them to begin studies at a university, university of applied sciences or vocational training institute. Most high schools in Finland (known as lukio) have a flexible “classless” system, meaning that students can finish at their own pace over two to four years. Schools are not based on age, but on courses with no specified year classes, so you can find students between 16 and 19 years old in any given study group.

Everyday something new

One academic year is divided into five periods, with a separate schedule for each period concentrating on certain subjects. Each period then ends with a "test week." This way, you’ll get to study a variety of subjects and always be discovering new things and meeting new people.

The school day starts between 8 and 10am and usually finishes around 2 to 4pm. There is normally a 45-minute lunch break, where lunch is provided for free for all students. Mandatory courses include a native language and a foreign language, literature, mathematics, environment and natural science, humanistic and social science and physical education.

Your home away from home

Our wonderful host families can be found all over Finland. They come in all shapes and sizes, but they all share one important trait: they can’t wait to welcome you into their home, show you their country and their way of life, and share incredible experiences together.

Your host family will really become your home away from home. Finnish families spend lots of time together, eat dinner together, and spend their evenings at home enjoying each other’s company or practicing their hobbies. Take the chance to find out about their lives and their interests and don’t be afraid to join in!

Mutual respect and open communication

Exchange students are expected to take part in family activities and help with chores, such as doing the dishes, keeping rooms tidy and shopping for daily groceries. Children and teenagers are afforded a great deal of freedom in Finland, but this freedom comes with a lot of responsibility. Parents trust their children to keep them informed of their whereabouts and to keep their word, in accordance with the Finns’ high ideas of loyalty and reliability.

As a result, Finnish families enjoy free and open communication. They can be straight with one another about all kinds of subjects and respect each other’s opinions. This direct way of communicating can be strange for some exchange students at first, but in the long run it will greatly help you make a connection with your host family and give you the opportunity to express yourself freely.

Quick Facts

  • Who can participate: students age 15–18 on arrival
  • Departure: August and January
  • Language requirements: good English
  • Course length: 5 or 10 months
  • Visa: required for non-European students
  • Welcome Camp: included
  • School year: August to May/June
  • School day: 8/10am–2/4pm
  • Subjects: some mandatory and many elective courses
  • Organized excursions: trips in Finland and other Nordic countries

Free Time in Finland

Finnish people don't lock themselves in during the cold winter. Instead, they adapt and make the most of it. Be sure to try some ice skating and cross-country skiing during your exchange, and don't skip the sauna!

Exchange students are strongly advised to participate in extra-curricular activities in local clubs, since Finnish schools seldom arrange any activities. Popular activities include sports, cultural clubs, social events, art, music and drama. This is perhaps the best way to meet new friends outside of school.

Great adventures in the great outdoors

Finns love the outdoors and enjoy their beautiful country all throughout the year. During the summer many city people head for the countryside to their summer cottages by a lake. The weekends and holidays are spent relaxing, swimming, fishing and, of course, in the sauna. Other popular activities include cycling, jogging, water sports and the national sport, pesäpallo (the Finnish version of baseball).

For many Finns winter is high season for sports. Cross-country and downhill skiing are possible almost everywhere in Finland, and ice-fishing or swimming in ice-cold water are becoming more popular. But the most popular sport of all is certainly ice-hockey.

Explore further

We organise shorter trips for our high school students in order for them to experience more during their time abroad. Contact your local coordinator for more information about trips in and around Finland, as well as other Nordic countries.

STS Welcome Camp in Europe

Your exchange begins with our fun Welcome Camp in Europe! The Welcome Camp gives you the best possible start to your exchange, and is packed with sightseeing, seminars, new friends and lots of fun.

What's included

  • Accommodation in a host family
  • Full board in a host family
  • School spot in a local high school 
  • Personal assistance and contact person in both home and host country
  • STS Welcome Camp 
  • Online pre-departure meeting
  • Emergency support 24/7
  • Free interview
  • Meetings and material to prepare you and your parents
  • STS bag
  • STS Diploma


Please note that the transport to your destination and back is not included the program fee.

Sales Year
5 months
From 9 350 €
3 months
From 8 650 €
5 months
From 9 350 €
10 months
From 10 350 €
5 months
From 9 350 €
3 months
From 8 650 €
5 months
From 9 350 €
10 months
From 10 350 €


About you/the student