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Consisting of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom of Great Britain (UK) has long been one of Europe’s most popular destinations to visit. The country’s appeal has much to do with its diverse scenery and rich cultural heritage. The best places to visit include everything from beautifully preserved country estates and castles, to its many world-class art galleries and museums.

The UK is a great place for exchange students to study because of their cosmopolitan and diverse society. The multicultural population of the UK includes many different people and cultures from all over the world:

  • People from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland have their own cultures and customs
  • Many British people can trace their heritage to other parts of the world
  • Nearly 10% of British people are Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi, Afro-Caribbean, Chinese or mixed heritage
  • Over 1 million people in Britain were born in another country in Europe, North America or Australia

As an AFS exchange student, you could be based anywhere in Central England, but have the ability to explore the best of Britain with ease because the country’s top locations and attractions are all so close! In fact, free monthly excursions are available to AFS students. You could visit:

  • Bath – one of the world’s most beautiful cities with its superb Roman remains, glorious Georgian architecture and natural hot springs
  • Chester– walk where Roman Legionnaires marched to war, Viking raiders wreaked havoc and Norman invaders conquered Anglo Saxons in this ancient city. Chester has the most complete city walls, the oldest racecourse and the largest Roman Amphitheatre in Britain, plus a 1000-year-old cathedral with Europe’s finest example of medieval carvings – and of course the one and only 700-year-old Rows shopping galleries
  • Manchester – with a thriving arts and culture scene, stunning architecture and, of course, home of the famous Manchester United Football Club
  • London – the capital city with endless attractions – Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Westminster and the Houses of Parliament plus so much more!
  • Oxford – well known for its university, is one of the most interesting and historic cities in England
  • Liverpool – famous for its musical heritage (home of The Beatles) and arts scene
  • Cardiff – the capital city of Wales and home of the Welsh Dragon
  • Stratford Upon-Avon – the birthplace of William Shakespeare, this quaint and picturesque city is steeped in history and culture
  • Shrewsbury – the town centre has a largely-unspoilt medieval street plan and over 660 listed buildings, including several examples of medieval houses from the 15th and 16th centuries

Eligibility Requirements

16 – 18 years

What's included in your experience

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

What you are responsible for

  • Visa and Passport Fees
  • School Uniform
uk host family

Host Family and Culture

Exchange students who study in the United Kingdom enjoy a high standard of host family accommodation. Most host families in the UK live in houses, whereas in comparison, most host families in other countries in Europe live in flats or apartments.

Exchange students often find that family life in the UK is similar to their own country and way of life. If an exchange student lives with a host family who work, it is often the case that the working day lasts from 9am to 5pm. Students will usually have breakfast with the host family before they go to work, between 7am and 8am. After breakfast, students will usually collect their packed lunch from the host family before they go to school. Students usually have an evening meal with their host family after work, between 5pm and 7pm.

Many host families in the UK prefer healthier options than traditional English food. For breakfast, many host families in the UK prefer to eat toast or cereals with tea and coffee. Some host families occasionally eat a traditional English breakfast of fried bacon and eggs. For lunch, host families in the UK provide exchange students with a packed lunch, which students have at lunchtime at school. The contents of a packed lunch vary, but usually include sandwiches, a packet of crisps, a piece of fruit or confectionery and a soft drink.

For evening meals, host families in the UK often serve a mixture of traditional English food and international cuisine. A traditional English meal includes meat and two vegetables, fish and chips or pie and chips. However, tastes are changing. Nowadays, many host families in the UK eat food from different countries. Spaghetti, pasta, rice, pizza, salads and Indian cuisine are just as likely to be served for evening meal as traditional foods. Curry is now the most popular food in the UK.

In the evening and weekends, teenagers in the UK enjoy music, television, cinema, theatre, surfing the Internet and shopping. Some young people like to play sports and many teenagers in the UK watch football (or soccer) in public venues or on television at home.

UK school

High School

The education system in the United Kingdom is well-respected around the world for high quality teaching and learning and world class facilities.

The academic year starts in September and ends in July. There are generous school holidays, including:

  • 2 week school holiday for Christmas
  • 2 week school holiday for Easter
  • 1 week school holiday in October
  • 1 week school holiday in February

There is also generous study leave in May to help students to prepare for end of year examinations.

Schools in the UK usually start around 9am and end around 3.30pm. However, some schools have more flexible patterns of attendance.

Exchange students in the UK select what subjects they want to study. There are many interesting and exciting subjects for students to choose from.

Although many UK school Sixth Forms no longer have a uniform, many will have a dress code. The dress code can vary considerably between schools from casual to formal, but often a school will stipulate smart business or office wear like if going to work in an office. Many appropriate items of smart school wear suitable for UK high school (white shirt, black trousers, etc) are available at very low discount prices in most UK high street supermarkets and high street chain clothing stores. They are very affordable. No bespoke tailoring or outfitters are required. Therefore, students may prefer to pack just a few items of clothing for school (just enough to last for the first week or two) and then take a look what fellow British pupils are wearing and then visit some of the high street supermarkets or high street clothes stores to acquire similar items of school attire at affordable prices.

Let AFS guide your intercultural experience

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