I am an eleventh-grade male Canadian high school student. Over the past couple of years, I have found myself very interested in the German language and culture. Recently, in my spare time, I have taken to studying the German language and researching German culture as my primary hobby. More than anything, after I graduate from high school in the summer of 2017, I would like to organize a one-year exchange to a High German-speaking region of Germany. I'm extremely motivated to immerse myself completely in the language and culture of Germany, and feel as though living as a German with a German host family for a year is the best way to achieve this.

I've contacted the Rotary Youth Exchange program in my region to see it would be possible to take part in a youth exchange where I would enrol in a German school to essentially repeat my graduating year of high school. I've been informed, however, that this program is only available to students who have not yet graduated from high school. Due to my current commitments to academics and band, I feel as though missing my final year of high school is not an option. This has led me to seek an alternative way to live in Germany in my post-graduation year before carrying on with my academic career.

In essence, I am motivated to find a way to live with a host family and put myself in a setting where I am exposed to as little English as possible. One of the drawbacks of the Rotary Exchange idea is there are frequent group meetings where many other foreigners speak English as a lingua franca. The idea of having an English-speaking community to fall back on is unappealing to me, as I wish to pursue the study of the language while being immersed in it.

Is there a way that I may be able to pursue such an exchange before I launch into my university career and inevitably settle down and stop dreaming on this scale? I'm open to any ideas that will put me into a situation where I am speaking German on a daily basis. Such an experience, I believe, will massively broaden my horizons and open up opportunities for me that presently I cannot even dream of.

Thanks in advance - I am open to and appreciative of any advice you may be able to give me.

Additional information: I am a Canadian-American dual citizen, so exchange programs that serve American students are not out of the question.


There is a strong assumption in the various programs that school-age children go to a guest family and university-age adults live in a student dorm or whatever.

Student exchange DAAD

You might look into young-adult volunteer programs which are mostly filled with Germans, count endangered birds at the coast or something like that. Some of those are open to non-citizens, but they are generally aimed at residents.

Youth mobility visa

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  • Thank you! I wouldn't be at all opposed to living in a student dorm, though I feel that living with a host family would be a good way to ensure that I'm continuously immersed in the language. I do know a couple of 18-year-old exchange students from Northern Europe on exchange in my hometown in Canada, though, so I don't see it as too much of a stretch for an exchange student to be slightly older than that. The idea of a volunteer program sounds very appealing if I am unable to participate in the German education system. – Bednesti Apr 13 '16 at 6:21
  • @Bednesti host families are somehow overrated. In my experience as I once stayed with a host family in England, I found out that the family was interested in learning foreign languages way more than I was interested in learning English at that time. It's whom you decide to hang out with and where you go is what makes the difference. – Nean Der Thal Apr 13 '16 at 6:26
  • @Heidel That may be true, actually. Being able to engage in the solitary study of the language while being immersed in it most of the time is likely a recipe for success. The problem is that I am currently a teenager with very little financial independence, so I'm unsure of whether I would have the resources to live alone for a year in Germany. – Bednesti Apr 13 '16 at 6:32
  • @Bednesti I was thinking about dorms... I am not sure how this student exchange programs work, but don't they come with some sort of arranged accommodation at least? wish you the best. – Nean Der Thal Apr 13 '16 at 6:33
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    WOW @Bednesti it's actually incredibly easy for Canadian people of your age to take a 12 month working holiday in germany! you are so lucky gls-german-courses.de/2049.html. Nothing whatsoever stands in the way of your plan. you only need about 2 thousand bucks in your pocket as proof (you will easily get a job there). so go get a job bagging at the local supermarket from now until then and you're done, or perhaps your folks can simply loan you a couple thosuand bucks. Enjoy! – Fattie Apr 13 '16 at 17:20

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