Student Exchange FAQs
Will the country I choose be guaranteed?
Unlike some other student exchange organizations, YFU Student Exchange New Zealand guarantees your country of choice provided you meet the criteria for placement in that country and we still have places available for that country.
Can I choose a particular area in my country of choice?
You can nominate preferences for areas in which you would like to be placed and preferences for the type of placement (large city, urban or rural area or small town) at interview but we cannot guarantee that we can give you your preferences. YFU’s priority in placing you is matching you with a family with similar interests. For students applying to the UK, you may be able to choose your region. Contact us for more details.
Will my family have to host an exchange student?
No, your family does not have to host an exchange student while you are away. Of course we welcome families hosting a student either while you are away, before you go or after you return. If your family hosts a student before you go or while you are away we will give you a hosting discount of up to 10% of the program fee for you to go on exchange if you host a student for 3, 5 or 10 months. Contact us for more details.
Are there any language requirements to go on exchange?
In most countries there is not a language requirement, with introductory language sessions conducted during the arrival orientations. France, Germany, Switzerland (French and German speaking), Belgium (French speaking) and Canada (French speaking) all require 2 years of study of French/German to go on exchange for 3 to 10 months . The two month program to France requires a minimum of 6 months previous study of French. You can still go to Germany or Switzerland if you have not studied German as there are 4 week intensive language camps at the beginning of your exchange at an additional cost of $1000 for those who do not have two years study of the language. For Italy it is recommended that you have studied Italian at school or in an intensive short course before you go but it is not compulsory. For Japan it is necessary to have studied Japanese for at least 2 years to be eligible and for Korea it is necessary to have studied Korean for at least 6 months, Spain will accept students without Spanish knowledge on a case by case basis.
Can a friend and I go together on exchange?
Yes, you can go on exchange with a friend, however you cannot be placed in the same family, as that would reduce your opportunity to meet new people and immerse yourself in the culture and language of the country, which is the main purpose of exchange.
How does YFU choose a host family for me?
Host families come in different shapes and sizes including two parent families with children, single parent families with children or couples without children. YFU works hard to match you with a family with similar interests to you and your family but the primary requirement for a host family is that they are willing to open their home to you. All YFU families are interviewed by YFU staff and are subject to a screening process, criminal and background checks, in accordance with the legal requirements of the host country
If my family knows a family in my country of choice can they host me?
Yes it may be possible to be hosted by a family known to your family provided they meet the requirements of the host family screening process. Close relatives are generally not approved to host. The family must be interviewed by the YFU organisation in the partner country and approved by YFU to host you.
Can I go on exchange if I have finished high school?
Yes you can go on exchange to some countries if you have finished school, sometimes called year 13 but there some restrictions so you should call us on 0800 833 624 (free call) to discuss your particular needs. Unfortunately we can no longer accept graduated students on our USA programs.
What help will I get if I am sick or have other difficulties on exchange?
If you need to see a doctor your host family will arrange for you to see a doctor and assist you so that you can make a claim on insurance for any costs involved. Every YFU organisation around the world maintains a 24 hours a day, seven day a week emergency mobile phone for you and your host family to contact a senior YFU staff member in case of accidents, emergencies or serious illness.
In every country a local representative or support person whose contact details you will be given, will be there to assist you in case of any difficulty or concern you may have either in your host family or at school.
Will my friends or parents be able to visit me while I am in exchange?
YFU worldwide does not permit parents or friends to visit students during their exchange program. Experience has shown us that visits by parents and friends during the student’s exchange unsettles the student and can interrupt schooling.
Your parents or friends may visit towards the end of exchange or at the end of the exchange period. If the visit is just before the end of the exchange period (in the last few weeks) your parents or friends need to seek approval from the YFU New Zealand National Office at least two months in advance. The visit will only be approved if YFU in the host country and the host family agree.
What additional amount of money will I need while I am on exchange?
You will need approximately $250 to $300 NZD per month to pay for personal items (toiletries etc), any personal entertainment expenses, and phone calls. You may also need to pay for school books and school trips and in some cases school uniforms during your time on exchange.
Will I have to repeat a year at school when I come back?
The answer to this question depends on the year you are in at school, the school system requirements and the length of your exchange period. You should speak to your school as soon as possible about how your exchange may affect your school enrolment. YFU New Zealand cannot guarantee that you will be able to access all subjects your current school requires while you are on exchange. Some credits for study overseas may be available in some school systems overseas.
Am I allowed to work while on exchange overseas?
Generally YFU organisations and the laws in particular countries do not permit you to have a part-time job. Some YFU exchange students earn some pocket money mowing lawns, or baby-sitting for family and friends of their host family but such activities should not interfere with your host family’s plans or your school work.
Can I go to two countries in the one exchange year?
Depending on the countries involved, it is possible but there are visa restrictions and additional costs involved. You should call us on our free call number 0800 833 624 (free call) to discuss your particular request.
Am I allowed to travel to other areas of my host country or to other countries while on exchange?
Travel with your host family, with YFU volunteers or with your school is permitted provided the YFU organisation in your host country approves. In some countries your natural parents permission may be required. Independent travel is generally not permitted unless it is to visit a relative or close friend of your natural family. It is then only permitted if your natural parents, your host family and the YFU organization in your host country agree with the travel arrangements.
Can I extend my stay in my host country after finishing my exchange program and travel around before returning home?
Extensions of stay are generally not permitted unless you wish to travel with your natural parents after finishing exchange and your visa allows you to remain longer. If the extension of stay requires YFU to change return airline tickets and extend insurance coverage an additional fee will be charged
Can I arrange my own airfare to travel overseas on exchange?
Generally it is not possible to arrange your own airfare as YFU organizations require inbound students from various countries to arrive together on the same flight on a particular date.
When I am on exchange, will there be any organised activities planned for the exchange students and families?
Apart from arrival and pre-departure orientations in your host country, many YFU organisations organise trips and social activities for exchange students and for host family members. These activities are organised either on a whole country or regional basis and vary from country to country.
Can I talk to someone who has been on exchange about going on exchange?
Yes you can. When you apply and have been accepted for exchange we can put you in touch with a returned exchange student who has been on exchange to your country of choice who can give you advice and answer any questions you may have about being an exchange student in that country
Do you have any suggestions on how to talk to my parents about going on exchange?
On our home page there is a link to our About YFU page. Show your parents this page as it contains information to help them understand exchange and the benefits of going on exchange. Our staff in national office are very happy to talk to your parents about the benefits of going on exchange. Ask them to call us on 0800 833 624 (free call).
I would like to go to a particular country to study particular subjects or participate in particular sports. Is that possible?
YFU has a number of specialised school exchange programs to a number of countries. These include programs in visual arts, music, fashion, dance, drama and sport. Check them out on our destinations pages (specialised) or contact us on or 0800 833 624 (free call) for more information. You can apply for these programs in the same way as a normal school exchange program.
If you want to go to a particular country that does not have a specialised exchange program to study particular subjects or participate in particular sports that will depend on whether or not our partner organisation can arrange such a placement. You need to call us our free call number 0800 833 624 (free call) to discuss your request.
I have a pre-existing health condition. Can I go on exchange?
It depends on the particular pre-existing health condition. Minor health conditions such as allergies will not generally stop you from going on exchange but can restrict where you are placed. More serious health conditions (eg diabetes) if they are controlled by medication will not stop you from going on exchange but you would need to discuss your condition with us and we would need to make sure our organization in your country of choice would accept you. Call us on our free call number at or 0800 833 624 to discuss your particular situation.