Tips for foreign-exchange visit
FOR THE BRAVE: A YEAR ABROAD
Since the introduction of G8, the decision to complete the Abitur in 12 years, many students have shied away from the traditional year abroad. In the days of G9, most students who went overseas for a year spent year 11 away from home and then returned for year 12. Today, it is not possible to miss years 11 and 12. For this reason, a good time to live abroad is after year 9. Stays of three or six months are also worthwhile: you can get to know a country, its people, the language and the culture and become a little more independent. There are various online portals that provide detailed information about the various options, such as www.weltweiser.de.
Here you can find all the information you need about spending time abroad together with a large number of explanations, useful tips and additional links.
A very practical overview complete with test reports about the most important providers has been put together by Stiftung Warentest and is available online at
Another good place to find a wide range of interesting and useful information when making plans is
FOR THOSE IN A HURRY: LANGUAGE HOLIDAYS
Language holidays are a good way to deepen your knowledge of a language during a short stay overseas. However, the range of organisers and agencies can be very confusing. A clear overview of the various programmes and a list of reputable suppliers is provided on the FDSV website. In this short interview, Julia Richter from FDSV explains what people should look out for.
Bildungsthemen: How can you identify a good language holiday?
Richter: A serious supplier should be a language holiday organiser and not just an agent. With agencies, you are more or less left on your own in terms of the contract that is agreed with the school at the local level. This can sometimes lead to legal difficulties, so you should make sure that you make your booking with an organiser.
What is the best way to inform yourself? After all, the range of offers is quite confusing.
Our website provides the details of most major language holiday providers of any repute. Here you can find a good overview of organisers. You should also seek in-depth advice from the organiser ahead of time. After all, not every language holiday is suitable for everyone, but there is an ideal language holiday for anyone who wants one. It is important for there to be local support on the other side and a point of contact for young people. And a good recreational programme, of course.
Would you recommend staying with a host family or visiting a college?
Naturally, that depends on the individual student and how independent he or she is. For students under 14, it is better to make sure that you don’t choose a host family model but go for a college instead. These places really offer young people a good all-round level of care.
For more information visit www.fdsv.de.
is the managing director of FDSV, a professional association of language holiday organisers in Germany.
FOR THE ACTIVE: Work camps
Work camps bring together young people from different countries for a common project. Volunteers from Germany might help to maintain Jewish cemeteries and memorials in other European countries, for example. They might also work with social organisations in various countries in Africa or Asia, or take part in intercultural projects. There are possibilities on almost every continent. For anyone who wants to do more with their summer holidays than just lie on the beach or go hiking, a volunteer placement would be the right choice. In most cases, participants are required to contribute towards expenses for preparation, travel to and from the destination, accommodation and meals. With reputable providers, however, this fee is relatively low because many projects are subsidised with public money.
The most important providers in Germany can be found at http://workcamps.org
In 2008, the federal government launched its own volunteer programme with a minimum period abroad of six months. This means that the programme is more suitable for students who have completed school: www.weltwaerts.de
FOR EVERYONE: SCHOLARSHIPS
A year abroad can cost a lot of money.
However, students can apply for a large number of scholarships. These range from partial scholarships to full scholarships, and the type of support that is available generally depends on the programme in question and the chosen destination.
The Deutsche Youth for Understanding Komitee e.V. offers an excellent overview of all the main scholarship programmes on its website, listed by federal state and other criteria. It is also possible to apply for financial aid in the form of a repayable grant. All the relevant information and links can be found on the following page: http://www.yfu.de/austauschjahr/stipendien/ueberblick