The two biggest programs are Rotary (the least expensive) and AFS. Both are really good programs, it all comes down to the little details and cost. Rotary places you with 2-3 families, and you switch every few months. Rotary requires you to do a few more things when you get back, like speak about your experience. You don't nessacaraly get to pick your country through Rotary - it is more of a suggestion. They tell you to choose your top 4 usually. My friend wanted to go to Japan, and she is going to S. Korea. Rotary has more country "choices" than AFS. AFS is much larger and has less rules. AFS is about double the cost (from 8,000 to 10,100 just for tuition, you still have to get spending money) Rotary sends you at least $50 a month for spending money. I am personally going with Rotary, but I had a few friends go with AFS and they loved it. They had orientations, and they traveled throughout Europe. Just choose one and GO!
p.s. Rotary can be a lot more selective than AFS - AFS only requires you to have a 2.8 gpa. And you can be 15 to go through AFS
I'm actually hoping to take part in a foreign exchange program next summer... just for a month probably. I've been doing some research for a while now and a lot of people have recomended Rotary and everything about it has been pretty positive- compared to the other organizations its a lot less money too. The only thing I dont like about it is that the person from the other family will have to come to my house as well... its pretty boring where I live though. Some other good programs that I found were the Center for Cultural Interchange and Two Worlds United. Again, there are many great programs... like Youth for Understanding... but everything is really expensive (if money isn't an object then YFU is great too). Also, before you sign up with any program make sure to check it out that its safe... theres a website for it. good luck with everything :)
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