Spend a year or semester near “Santa’s hometown” (Rovaniemi, Finland) and immerse yourself in the daily life of one of Europe’s most magical countries.

Get an inside look at a country that celebrates summers of seemingly endless sun and finds light in the near total darkness of winter.  With nearly 200,000 lakes, saunas and art festivals make up the unique Finnish culture.  Finns tend to be shy and reserved at first, but will open up when they meet you. You can enjoy a unique experience of 24 hours of daylight in the summer and all-day darkness during the Arctic winter.

Teenagers in Finland have a lot of independence and enjoy spending time outdoors, even in the winter. Your Finnish friends will attend high school formal dances called vanhojen tanssit with both modern and traditional music.

Host Family & Community

Family is very important, and everyone shares in the household chores. 


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.

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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.


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.

Fresh cloudberries harvested from the forest.

Let AFS guide your intercultural adventure

Go abroad with AFS to discover who you really are, make new lifetime friendships and immerse yourself in a fascinating intercultural experience.
Year Exchange PROGRAM

Program Date: August/September, 2020 – June/July, 2021
Birth Date Range: 14 December 2001 to 14 December 2004

Our learning program will prepare you for an amazing AFS intercultural experience. The program begins at your home country with a pre-departure orientation and continues with orientations and other supported learning activities and facilitated conversations will help you maximize your experience, cope the challenges of navigating a new culture and community and 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 through your learning journey abroad.

Program dates may vary and are meant to help with general scheduling only.
All programs, prices, and travel dates are subject to change without notice.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and programs are filled first-come, first-serve.

Apply Now!