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Finland is alive with culture, outdoor activities, lush landscapes, and the midnight sun. There are heaps of arts festivals, sporting events, and a balanced mix of small-town life and modern cities. Common sense, no fuss, and making things work, sums up how the Finns operate. Spending time in the sauna is a national pastime. Finns love the outdoors and spend much of their time skiing, hiking, and even sailing. Finnish and Swedish are both official languages, and the Finns like to preserve their culture, which is what makes Finland so unique. The Finns are also considered to be cool – a bit quiet and reserved. However, they are actually warm, friendly, hospitable and especially honest people once you get to know them.

You can visit Santa Claus in his house in Lapland, eat salt liquorice, compete in or watch events from wife carrying to swamp football, take a dip in a hole in the ice, ride with reindeer and huskies – the list is endless! Believe it or not, Finland is also the place to go for festivals. From numerous rock, jazz, opera and folk festivals to chamber music and theatre events, there’s always a party going on. Of course, you already know the sun never sets…

Eligibility Requirements

You must be 16, 17 or 18.

What's included in your experience

  • Airfare
  • Airport Pick-up
  • Host Family Placement
  • Housing
  • Meals
  • School Placement
  • Medical Insurance
  • 24/7 Emergency Support
  • Assistance with Application Process
  • Visa Application Assistance
  • Pre-Departure Orientation
  • Orientations during your time abroad
  • Access to Alumni Network
  • Continuous Support
  • Worldwide Presence
  • 70 Years Experience

What you are responsible for

  • Vaccinations
  • Visa and Passport Fees
  • School Uniform
AFS USA_Finland2007-2008_2822666885_o

Host family and culture

Family is very important, and everyone shares in the household chores. Mealtimes in Finland are less formal than in some other countries, so during the weekdays you may prepare and eat food on your own. On weekends, many families dine together and catch up on their activities that week. Meals tend to be simple but nutritious, including meat, fish, potatoes, pasta, bread and dairy products. Coffee is a favorite beverage, even among teenagers, often with a sweet wheat bread called pulla.

Jyväskylä, Finland

Language and school

Finnish is the main language of Finland. Swedish is also an official language, and both are spoken in bilingual areas. Having a basic knowledge of English will helpul. AFS will help you find language courses in the first few months or provide you with materials to learn the language on your own before going on your exchange.

Finland has one of the best education systems in the world, so you can expect classes that are both engaging and challenging. You’ll attend a public high school (lukio) where the year is divided into five or six terms, from mid-August to the end of May. Finnish, Swedish, foreign languages, math, science, psychology, art, music, history and geography are subjects that you will study intensively in each term. There’s no need to be too formal with you teachers, you may even address them by their first names.

Let AFS guide your intercultural adventure

Kick-start your future with AFS and discover who you really are, make new lifetime friendships and immerse yourself in a fascinating intercultural experience.

This programme begins at your home country with a pre-departure orientation and continues with orientations, other supported learning activities and facilitated conversations which will help you maximize your experience, cope with the challenges of navigating a new culture and community as well as gain knowledge, skills, and a global understanding throughout your time abroad, and as you return to your home country. AFS volunteers will be there to support and guide you and your host family the whole way through.

Find out more