High School in Germany

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  • Overview

    Willkommen in Deutschland!

    Studying abroad with Greenheart Travel’s high school program in Germany will give you a chance to live and study in a place where gemütlichkeit, or good-naturedness, is a way of life! Immerse yourself in a culture where hiking, cycling, palaces, parks, and gardens are abundant. As an exchange student in Germany, you will experience what it’s like to attend high school with your German peers and receive the wealth of cultural immersion, allowing you to gain a new perspective during your academic adventure abroad!

    Program at a Glance:

    • Host family accommodation provides full language and culture immersion
    • Must have previous German experience
    • You can choose between 1 or 2-months, trimester, semester or academic year length programs
    • A straightforward online application process
    • Start dates available in spring or fall

    Greenheart Travel exchange students celebrating Oktoberfest in Munich!

  • Program Dates

    Spring 2020

    Spring 2020 applications are now closed. Please apply for a Fall 2020 start date. 

    Program Dates:

    • Short Term: Start in January
    • Trimester: January – April
    • Semester: January – June

    Fall 2020

    Apply Early and Save! $300 off Trimester and $500 off Semester/Year Early Application Discount for Fall 2020 Programs: Apply by December 6, 2019.

    Final Deadline to Apply: March 15, 2020

    Program Dates:

    • Short Term: Start in August
    • Trimester: August – November
    • Semester: August – January
    • Academic Year: August – June

    Can’t commit to going during the school year? Check out our 2-4 week summer option in Germany here.

  • Academic Info

    What to know about attending a German high school:

    • Most exchange students study in public schools.
    • The German high school consists of Grades 10-12 and is divided into two semesters, the first beginning in August and the second ending in June.
    • You will go to school from Monday to Friday, from 7:50 in the morning until around 1 o’clock. Sometimes it is longer depending on the day and the subjects chosen.
    • Each session is normally about 45 minutes.
    • Math, German, English, a second language (French or Spanish), Biology, Chemistry, Physics, History, Geography, and/or Social Sciences are typically taught in 10th & 11th grades.
    • Three different tracks (Languages/Literature/Arts; Social Sciences; Mathematics/Sciences) are taught in 12 grade and your host school will determine your track.

    Getting involved in extra-curricular activities is a great way to gain deeper insight into German culture. Every town offers a variety of clubs and activities. So do a little investigative work when you arrive to determine the best option for you!

    Before You Go Abroad

    You should meet with your US high school before you leave and share the general curriculum guidelines of your host country with your guidance counselor and/or teachers. Please consult with them about the credits they will potentially grant you for the classes you take while abroad.

    Because the curriculum will vary by country, it is important that you arrange the required classes required for your graduation, such as U.S. History, before or after your time abroad. There are no guarantees that you can take certain classes at your host school.

    Greenheart Travel will be able to provide information about the general curriculum for your age level in your host country; however, in most cases, you will not be able to sign up for specific courses until AFTER you have arrived in your host country.

    Access your High School Curriculum Guidelines for Germany here!

    Once You’re Abroad

    Please keep in mind that the grading system in other countries is different than the US. Most host schools will not grant grades or transcripts as it is too difficult to evaluate your work due to the language barrier. If your host school is able to award you grades, they won’t be an exact match to what you would get in the US.

    Throughout the year, we offer students small excursions of your choice. Additional fees apply to these excursions, but they are wonderful opportunities to explore more of Germany and meet fellow exchange students! If you are in Germany in the autumn you can opt into the Berlin trip. If you find yourself in Germany in the Spring, join the Munich trip!

  • Eligibility

    In researching a study abroad program, you have already shown you are a leader and open-minded in your academic pursuits. These are just a few of the traits that our exchange students possess. You’re motivated to immerse yourself in another culture and flexible enough to live outside your comfort zone. You should also:

    • Be between 15 and 18 years of age (at the time of travel)
    • Be from the United States or Canada
    • Possess a high school cumulative GPA of at least 2.75/4.0
    • Be in great mental* and physical health
    • Have a genuine interest in becoming a part of your host family and community
    • Have at least 2 years of German language instruction or Be willing to attend a German language course during the first half of the program (not included in program fee)

    Interested in gaining German fluency before you go? Check out our Teen Summer Language Camp in Berlin!

    *What does it mean to be in good mental health?

    Moving to a new culture and staying in unfamiliar surroundings without your normal support structure can be very stressful, even to a well-adjusted student. Sending a student with pre-existing conditions on a long-term exchange program could exacerbate whatever challenges the student was previously facing. In order to ensure the safety of our participants, we must be rigorous in our pre-screening of all high school abroad applicants.

    Therefore, we may not be able to accept students who have struggled with any kind of mental illness within the last 2 years and/or are reliant on medication to address their existing mental health condition. Each student will be addressed on a case by case basis.

    These include, but are not limited to:

    • Depression
    • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
    • Debilitating anxiety
    • Eating disorders

    If the student’s mental health issue has been managed (post-medication) for over 2 years, we will ask for a note from his/her relevant practitioner (psychologist, therapist, psychiatrist, etc) as part of the application process.

  • Costs & Inclusions

    • 1 Month Program: $7,110
    • 2-month Program: $7,580
    • Academic Trimester: $8,100
    • Academic Semester: $11,970
    • Academic Year: $13,940

    Destination guarantee available for an additional fee:

    • 250 euros: Bavaria, North, South
    • 750 euros: Hamburg, Munich, Berlin

    Packaged into the Price:

    • Roundtrip international airfare from New York City (JFK) to Germany
    • Airport pickup upon arrival
    • Host family accommodation and 3 meals per day
    • Comprehensive medical/accident insurance
    • 3 Day Arrival Orientation* (only available to Fall participants)
      • Greeting and Transfer from Airport to Orientation Site
      • Accommodation at Orientation Site
      • Traditional German Meals
      • Orientation workshops (covering school life, host family life, German culture, etc)
      • Cultural Tours of Bonn and Cologne (museums, palaces, plazas, cathedrals, etc)
    • Certificate of Completion upon successful completion of the program for use on college applications.
    • Access to Greenheart Travel Facebook groups to connect with alumni and others on your start date ahead of your program.
    • Greenheart Atlas Program 
    • Greenheart Travel T-shirt & Reusable “No Plastic Please” Canvas Tote Bag

    Our Support and Services: 

    • Visa Assistance in applying for the visa ahead of arrival, including visa paperwork and extensive directions and support.
    • Extensive pre-departure advice and support from Allison and Jess, your US-based program coordinators! They will be with you from your first inquiry, all the way through preparing to leave and your arrival in Germany.
    • Support and counseling services from in-country staff upon arrival to Germany.
    • Online pre-departure cultural and logistical orientation before you leave
    • 24-hour in-country and emergency support for the duration of the program, including 24-hour emergency phone numbers to reach a program manager at any time.
    • Opportunity to apply for a Greenheart Grant to give back to your community at home or abroad

    Additional Expenses to Budget for (Estimates):

    • Public transportation if required. In places where public transport is good, students will mostly be expected to use it or ride a bike. The average cost of a bus pass is 60-90 €/month.
    • Extracurricular activities/sports/clubs
    • Personal spending money for cell phones, clothes, toiletries, etc.
    • German courses for beginners (200 euros/month)
    • Textbooks are usually provided by the school, in some cases might have to be purchased.

    Payment Details

    • $1,000 Application Deposit due by the program deadline to formally apply
    • $5,000 Commitment Deposit due after acceptance
    • Remaining balance is due on June 1st for fall departures and November 1st for spring departures.

    Worried about the program fee?

    Our goal is to help make travel accessible to everyone and we are here to help when you are deciding if this experience is financially do-able. Each year we offer scholarships for high school study abroad students! We also have a guide to fundraising your program fee, and many high school students fundraise in their hometown ahead of their program.

    We also offer discounts for applying early (plus there are many other benefits to applying early!) for each start date and for US families that have hosted an exchange student with Greenheart Exchange.

    Please email us at travelabroad@greenheart.org if you have questions about the program fee, scholarships, or fundraising for your program.

  • Orientation

    As a High School in Germany participant, we will support you and welcome you to the program in a variety of orientation activities.

    These Include:

    • 3 Day Arrival Orientation (only available to Fall participants)
      • Greeting and Transfer from Airport to Orientation Site (Hamburg or Duisburg)
      • Accommodation at Orientation Site
      • Traditional German Meals
      • Orientation workshops (covering school life, host family life, German culture, etc)
      • Cultural Tours (museums, palaces, plazas, cathedrals, etc)
    • Online pre-departure cultural and logistical orientation before you leave with the Greenheart Travel staff
    • Greenheart Travel Atlas Program will provide pre-departure activities to complete ahead of arrival, on program, and for reflection after returning home.
    • Local coordinators will meet the student personally after arrival in their host family placement

    2-Day Optional Welcome Camp in London (Extra Cost ~$500 USD)

    For those who are interested, there is an option to buy a 2-Day Welcome Camp in London for an extra cost. This is a fun introduction to Europe with other exchange students.

  • Host Families

    The best way to learn about a new culture and language is to be fully immersed in it which is why all Greenheart Travel high school abroad students live with local host families. All of our host families are volunteers and will treat you as a member of their family. By being a part of your family’s daily life, you will learn to live and speak like a local.

    Prospective host families undergo a rigorous screening process. Participants can rest assured that only suitable host families will be selected. In fact, many of our current host families have hosted students in the past, showing what an impactful experience it was.

    In order to qualify as a host family, the prospective hosts must:

    • Successfully pass a criminal background check
    • Undergo and pass an in-person interview with program staff
    • Agree to and pass a home inspection

    We will connect you with your host family prior to your arrival in your host country. By e-mailing and speaking with them before arriving, it will help break the ice when you finally meet in person. It will also show that you are as excited to live with them as they are to host you!

    Host families have many reasons why they want to welcome you! Our host families are volunteers, meaning they don’t receive compensation for housing and feeding students during their program. Many host families love the experience of cultural exchange – they learn just as much about your country as you do theirs. Many are also former exchange students and want to return the favor, or they have children who have gone or will go to study in the U.S. Having an exchange student exposes their children to new languages and cultures.

    A student meeting her new host family!

  • Activities & Excursions

    Each semester the program offers option trips for exchange students to participate in. Usually, during the fall semester, there is a trip to Hamburg and during the spring, to Munich. These trips are not included in the program and are optional.

    Usually, these trips are from Friday afternoon/evening until Sunday noon. They include entrance fees, snacks, half board and hostel accommodation (transport is an additional cost and organized by students.) The cost is usually around €200.

    Hamburg Trip Highlights

    Sightseeing, ferry tour along the Elbe river, eating local specialties, a live concert in pub, rally, free time for shopping, and the Hamburg Dungeon (a kind of haunted house with scary Hamburg history!)

    Munich Trip Highlights

    Sightseeing, hop-on-hop-off bus tour, hike in Olympic Park, Spring Fest (little Oktoberfest!), local specialties, market, free time for shopping, pedalboat, and museum visits.

    Nymphenburg Palace in Munich

    Trips Outside Germany

    Students are often invited to join our excursions and trips with our exchange students in other countries as well. This past year there were trips to London, Paris/Lille, Amsterdam, Norway, and Edinburgh. The cost ranged between 200-400€ for a (long) weekend. Students can sign up for these once they arrive on the program.

  • FAQs

    I am a parent with questions, where do I go?

    Please head to our Parent Handbook page. You’re also welcome to set up a time to chat with us about your child’s program abroad here. We’re happy to chat with you about this big decision!

    I identify as LGBTQ+. How will I be supported?

    Greenheart Travel welcomes travelers identifying as LGTBQ+, and is committed to helping you find the best program for you. We can provide information on the cultural norms of our destination countries and are prepared to advise you on the best programs based on your needs and interests. 

    Please read more here.

    Can I choose where I will be placed with my host family?

    No. You must be flexible about where you are placed within Germany. We make it a priority to place students with host families that closely match your interests and personality. For this reason, we work first to find a suitable family rather than a destination preference. We can never guarantee placements in any specific city or region, and we match based on compatibility with the host family.

    I know a family in my program country that would like to host me. Is this possible?

    This is possible as long as we have a support network in the family’s host community and there is an available nearby host school.

    What if I don’t like my host family? Can I request a new one?

    No. We do not change host families based on preferences or location. However, if issues arise once you are on the program, we will handle them on a case-by-case basis and may make changes if necessary.

    Will I be placed in a city like Berlin?

    Unless you choose a destination guarantee in Berlin, Munich, or Hamburg (750 euro extra fee), it is very unlikely you will be placed in a major city. A majority of our families live in small to medium sized towns outside of major cities, and it is important you be open-minded to small town life.

    The cost of living is much lower in smaller towns, and therefore families in these areas are able to host more frequently (and have more room in their homes!)

    Will I have a host sibling my age?

    There is no guarantee that you will have a host sibling your age. Your host family may have young children, teenage children, or grown children who no longer live at home. Regardless of the age of your host siblings, they’ll be excited to welcome into the family!

    Depending on your host family,  you may be expected to share a room with a host sibling of the same gender.

    Are flights included?

    Round trip airfare from New York (JFK) to Germany is included in the cost of the program. If JFK is not convenient for you and you wish to book flights on your own we will deduct the flight from your total fee.

    Will someone pick me up at the airport?

    Yes! Our in-country partner staff or your host family will be eagerly waiting for you when you arrive!

    What year in school will I be placed in?

    Exchange students will be placed in Gesamtschule or Gymnasium grades 9-11, depending on student age, level of German and type of school (some gymnasiums end after year 12, some after year 13. Students are almost never placed in the final 2 years that lead to Abitur (HS diploma).

    Will anyone at my school speak English?

    It’s very likely that teachers and students at your school will speak English, as it’s very common for most Germans to speak English. However, remember that you’re there to learn German!

    All classes will be taught in German as this is a full immersion program.

    What is the insurance?

    Comprehensive medical and accident insurance will be included in the cost of your program. This will cover you for most medical expenses you might incur, like prescriptions, ER visits, doctor visits, dental accidents, and hospitalizations.

    What happens if I get sick or have an emergency?

    If you get sick, your host family or local coordinator will help you go to the doctor.

    If you have an emergency on program, we have a 24/7 emergency number you can call. Our in-country partner staff and your host family will be there to assist you. Greenheart will be in touch with your parents regarding your emergency.

    What visa do I get and how do I apply?

    All students will be required to obtain a student visa to Germany, regardless of their program length. It is the students’ responsibility to apply for this visa, but Greenheart will provide you guidance and the proper documents you’ll need to apply with your local consulate or with the embassy.

    Do you offer any scholarships, financial aid, or special discounts?

    Yes. Every year we offer various scholarships for select high school program destinations. There are two Early Bird Deadline discounts offered each year as well. If you have hosted a student for Greenheart Exchange, you are also eligible for a Greenheart Host Family discount.

    Do I need to be fluent in German?

    No. There are no language requirements for this program, so if you don’t speak any German – that’s fine! Complete beginners will need to enroll in extra German classes for around 200 euro per month.

    One of the main goals of studying abroad is to become fluent in another language while living overseas. The host family and school will not expect you to be fluent when you first arrive and will help you improve your language skills. As long as you try your best, you’ll pick up the language sooner than you might think!

    Can I come home to visit or can my parents visit while I'm abroad?

    No. Visits are not allowed during the high school program. If your family wishes to visit, they should plan to meet you after your program is completed. In this instance, Greenheart Travel’s National office and international partner office should be informed of your family’s plans.

    Will I have a cell phone and internet?

    You will be required to have a local German phone number. Please make sure that your U.S. phone is “unlocked” as to accept a SIM card from Germany! We give you tips and advice for communication while abroad during your program.

    All host families (and most every person) in Germany have internet in their homes. There is also 4G internet widely available throughout the country.

    If you have a laptop we recommend bringing it, as it will be helpful for school and for communicating with home.

    Can friends study abroad together?

    Our programs are based on a full, cultural immersion experience so friends are not allowed to study abroad together in the same host town. You’re welcome to both go to Germany at the same time but you would not be placed together. Don’t worry though; making friends in your new host town will happen quickly!

    My school requires service learning in order to graduate. How will I do that abroad?

    Greenheart Travel is proud to offer the Greenheart Club for all of our students. The Greenheart Club challenges our participants to pursue a deeper level of immersion through volunteerism. As a member of the Greenheart Club, you will receive guidance in strategizing creative ways to give back to your community, have access to tools for tracking your impact and receive incentives for your efforts as a global leader. This is a great chance for you to get to know the local community outside of the classroom while you study abroad.

    Can I take the SATs while abroad?

    You will not be able to take the SATs while abroad.  We highly recommend taking the SATs prior to or after the program.

    When should I apply?

    We recommend you apply a minimum of 6 months prior to your desired semester.

    The sooner you can apply the better, as acceptance, gathering documents, etc. can take a long time. Read more about why applying early is a good idea.

    Our final deadlines for fall start dates are March 15, and September 15 for spring departures.

    I have already graduated, am I still eligible?

    We cannot take already graduated student’s on our High School Study Abroad in Germany program. Please look into our Teen Summer Language Camp program in Berlin for a short term German program that can take Gap Year students.

    On a case by case basis, we can accept already graduated students for High School programs in Argentina, Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, and England.

    Can I speak to current high school students or alumni?

    Yes! Check out our blog or you can join our exclusive teen programs Facebook group to talk to current and past students.

    We also have a list of mentors (teens and parents) that are past participants open to chatting about their experience with potential new participants. Please inquire here if you want to be put in touch with a mentor.

  • Why Greenheart Travel?

    Greenheart Travel has been working with high schoolers for many years, and there are advantages of applying for this program through us:

    • 33 years of experience with cultural exchange programs
    • Friendly, responsive, and professional support from your program manager, Allison.
    • Connect with alumni and others on the program via our Greenheart Travel only Facebook forums, before you even leave!
    • We try and make our program fees as inclusive as we can. We include things like medical insurance and flights so you don’t run into any hidden fees down the line.
    • Greenheart Atlas Program. The Greenheart Travel Atlas is a cultural training interactive guidebook alongside five videos where you will find three main topics covered: Personal/Professional Development, Cultural Understanding, & Environmental Awareness.
    • Our alumni recommend us! GoOverseas.com Reviews // GoAbroad.com Reviews
    • Hands-on support and personal attention every step of the way
    • 24/7 emergency phone number to reach a staff member at any time
    • Pre-departure “Culture Shock and Adjustment” Webinar before you leave
    • Discounts for future Greenheart Travel programs
    • We are a non-profit, mission-based organization
    • Continued support throughout your time abroad

    We also have some unique offerings to our Greenheart Travel students and alumni!

    Greenheart Global Impact Grants (GIGs)

    Greenheart GIG Grants are funds awarded to Greenheart Travel participants to use for community development projects in their host or home country. A GIG is the opportunity to create, improve, or maintain an impactful, community-focused project abroad or at home. Grant funds could be applied to supporting women’s cooperatives, schools, community centers, or health clinics, for example. Grant winners will be featured on our website, social media, and blog. You can see our past winners on our blog here.

    Greenheart Alumni Program

    We created the Greenheart Travel Alumni Program to provide resources and a community to support alumni in their advancement as global leaders, and a way to celebrate and reward our participants for being ambitious, inspiring catalysts of cultural exchange!

    Junior Greenheart Global Leaders Conference

    Each May Greenheart offers full-ride scholarships to around 10 teen alumni to attend our annual conference in Chicago. You can see more about what Jr. GGLC is and what you could do at the conference here.

  • Application Process

    Committing to studying abroad can feel daunting, but we are here every step of the way to make the application process as simple as possible! Below are the various steps you’ll need to take to be accepted on a high school abroad program.

    1. Start Your Application Here: Greenheart Travel Application. Once the initial form is complete, you will be connected to a High School Abroad program manager who will speak with you and a parent to go over the details of the program.

    2. Sign the Terms & Conditions (Approximately 10 Minutes): After you complete Part 1 of your application, you and one parent will be asked to read through and sign our Terms and Conditions which outline the requirements and policies of the program.

    3. Submit your deposit (Approximately 5 minutes): Next, you will submit your $1,000 non-refundable deposit which reserves your spot on the program and is subtracted from your total program fee.

    4. Skype Interview (Approximately 30-45 Minutes): After submitting your deposit, you will schedule an interview with Allison.  During this interview, Allison will ask you questions about living with a host family, adjusting to new situations and homesickness, among other things. She will also explain the overview of the next few months and what you can expect. This is done via Skype, and at least one parent should also be in attendance. If you do not have Skype, please download it before the interview.

    5. Secondary Application Form (Approximately 30 Minutes): This part of the application process will help us get to know you and assess the best match for your host family abroad. You will need to provide detailed information about yourself, why you want to study abroad, and what you hope to gain from your experience. You can do this prior to the Skype interview should you wish.

    5. Second Parent to Sign the Terms & Conditions (Approximately 5 minutes): Your other parent will be asked to read through and sign our Terms and Conditions which outline the requirements and policies of the program.

    6. Submitting Your Documents: You will also be required to submit documents (outlined below). You can be collecting the documents during the application process, but all documents will be due 14 days after you submit your deposit.

    7. Secondary Skype Interview with Germany staff: The final step is to Skype with in-country Germany staff. Allison will organize this with you after you finish all prior steps.

    Once you’ve completed all the steps, Greenheart Travel will thoroughly review your application and will contact you within 2-3 weeks about your acceptance. Then, you’ll get more information about preparation, visas, and placement.

    Required Documents

    In addition to completing an application, you will also be required to submit documents. You can be collecting the documents during the application process, but all documents will be due 14 days after you submit your deposit.

    The following documents will be required for all destinations:

    • Letter of Recommendation (from a teacher, coach or guidance counselor) – does not need to be sealed, should be scanned and uploaded to the document portal
    • Transcripts from the last 3 years (unofficial transcripts accepted)
    • Student Dear Family Letter
    • Parent Questionnaire & Letter
    • Photo Album (5-7 photos of you on a Word document with captions in English and host country’s language)
    • Medical Form (including immunizations)
    • Copy of your passport
    • 60-90 second self-introduction video sent via YouTube link
    • Secondary rules & expectations document signed by both parents and students

    Payments

    For payments, a $1,000 non-refundable deposit will be due with your submitted application. This is a deposit, not an application fee, and will be deducted from your overall program cost. If your application is submitted after the deadline, the deposit will be $2,000.

    Once you are accepted onto the program, a $5,000 commitment deposit will be due within 7 days of acceptance.  Remaining balance is due on June 1st for fall departures and November 1st for spring departures.

    You’ve Been Accepted, Now What?

    Start getting ready for your adventure! Your program manager will be in regular communication with you to make sure that you are on track in your preparations to go abroad.

    • Upon acceptance, you will receive a student handbook (parents – you get one, too!) and access to the Greenheart Travel Atlas, as well as the Greenheart Club.
    • You will receive your host family and school placement roughly 2-3 month after acceptance.
    • After receiving your host family and school placement, you will receive further instructions on applying for you student visa (if applicable for your program length)
    • We will also schedule an online pre-orientation with other Greenheart students a few weeks before your departure!
  • Schedule a Call

    Have questions or want to talk to one of the program coordinators? Set up a time to have a phone call below.


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