High School Programs in Western Europe

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A Guide to High School Programs in Western Europe

The countries of Western Europe feature an all-around global vibe utilizing only the finest ingredients to create modern cities, an artistic culture, and dining to die for. Though more expensive than most alternative high school program destinations, students who choose Western Europe will get what they pay for. Whether adamant language learning, anxious to embark on a European adventure, or seeking inspiring cultural immersion, high school programs in Western Europe are sure to provide students with the experience of a lifetime.


With 17 countries to choose from and a wide array of programs available, students won’t have any trouble finding the perfect high school program in Western Europe. From Austria to Switzerland, and everywhere in between, Western Europe has a little something for everyone, no matter if you want to explore castles or scour the city streets for the best cafes.

England. Though the enticing accent and addictive slang may make it sound like another language at times, high school students hesitant overcoming language barriers will instantly set their worries at ease when they arrive in English-speaking England. Ambitious students may even find high school programs in England at some of the country’s most prestigious universities, like Oxford and Cambridge, giving them the chance to earn valuable college credit. The deep-rooted history fueling England’s modern global eccentricity is obvious on a simple stroll through the city streets, which feature medieval architecture alongside countless modern shops and restaurants. Beyond the city limits, England’s calming countryside and sandy seashore will prove to be a refreshing break from urban life.

France. There is a reason France holds the title as the world’s top tourist destination, it has earned it! With a collection of world class art second to none, a wide variety of regional cuisines and specialty dishes, and an art de vivre (art to living) ensuring everyday feels like vacation, high school programs in France will leave students planning their return trip before their first week even ends. With a world-renowned capital like Paris, exciting futbol matches, pristine Pyrenees peaks, and breezy beaches, high school students won’t be left without extracurricular activities.

Germany. It might not be popular in the ways that England and France are, but it certainly is populous! As the most populous country in the European Union, Germany remains an industry leader, with a powerhouse economy that ranks fourth in the world. Beyond its strong, intense history and thriving reputation, Germany offers a change of scenery for high school students, from modern globalized cities and captivating cobblestone towns to vast valleys and powdery glaciers. Students will thrive in structured high school programs in Germany, where punctuality, formality, and efficiency are highly valued.

Italy. It won’t take high schoolers very long in Italy to conclude that Italians do in fact live la bella vita (the beautiful life). With an obvious respect for the finer things, Italians seem to have effortlessly perfected daily life as an art form. The twenty unique regions of Italy each offer their own dialect, traditions, and areas of emphasis that will excite like-minded students from around the world. Whether fashion, food, history, art, or natural exploration take precedent, high school programs in Italy will provide students with everything they are looking for and more.

Spain. Students with a passion for the Spanish language who are seeking a more contemporary Western experience abroad will thrive among the passionate people of Spain. Living life to the fullest will become second nature to high schoolers who spend time abroad in Spain. The informal atmosphere, flavorful Spanish food, stirring landscapes, tangible influence of civilizations past, and musical heart and soul of Spain will captivate high school students who choose Spain for their study abroad experience. 

High School Programs in Western Europe

With a range of academics, languages, and cultural activities available, students have a number of options to choose from when participating in high school programs in Western Europe.

Exploration Programs are common throughout Europe, and generally feature multiple destinations, last anywhere from two to eight weeks, and entail less of emphasis on academics and more of a focus on adventure. These programs are perfect for students seeking to fill their short trip abroad with as many experiences as possible. Occasionally, students may even find high school programs in Western Europe that offer specific emphases to choose from, further guiding their adventure toward their personalized interests.

Cultural Experience. Culture focused high school programs in Western Europe come in many forms. The most popular options, however, are summer programs that last two to four weeks and combine various immersion activities with general elective options, which includes some level of language learning. Classes may (or may not be) offered for academic credit, with local instruction placing students either alongside their native peers or in settings structured specifically for international students. Some high school programs in Western Europe even offer various cultural focuses, such as history, culinary studies, or art and architecture, so students can choose an academic area that best reflects their interests.

Language Learning. High school programs in Western Europe focused primarily on language acquisition generally require students to spend a large number of hours in the classroom, but likewise, a good amount of time will be specifically set aside for immersion activities. A student’s language of choice will greatly affect their location options in Western Europe, but classes often cater to a range of skill levels, from beginners to advanced foreign language speakers. The majority of language courses will be taken alongside other international students, but immersion activities will put students face to face with locals in various environments and situations.

Student Exchange. The most time-intensive and academically challenging option for high school programs in Western Europe are full, long-term immersion experiences that give students the opportunity to attend local schools in their chosen country. Either through direct-enrollment or participation in a student exchange program, students will have the opportunity to learn alongside locals and typically live with a local host family. The duration and timing of student exchange programs in Western Europe reflect the academic calendar of the country, but high school study abroad programs usually last for a semester or entire year.

Scholarships & Costs

Generally speaking, the cost of living in Western European will be higher than in the United States. With such iconic metropolitan destinations, like Rome and London, high school students should likewise expect the cost of living in larger cities to be even higher still. For example, day-to-day spending in Florence will cost much more than life in smaller, more rural towns, which may therefore be more appropriate for students on a stricter budget. Luckily, fundraising is always a possibility and is increasingly common, not to mention scholarships are often available for extended high school study abroad programs.

Accommodation & Visas

The most popular and readily available form of accommodation in Western Europe is homestays. Not only is living with a host family safe, supervised, and comforting, it also provides incomparable opportunities for immersion and language learning. Occasionally, alternative housing will be available for students who favor dorm life, and sometimes hotel accommodation is also utilized. No matter where students choose to stay, high school program coordinators are dedicated to student safety, so parents of can rest easy while their student is abroad (or as easy as possible).

For nearly all high school programs in Western Europe, the only documents necessary for students to obtain will be a passport valid for three to six months beyond their stay and a return ticket home. In the rare case of programs that last beyond 90 days, additional visas warranting prior planning may be required. If participating in an extended program or study abroad program, students should always check with their program provider to ensure proper documentation is obtained.

Benefits & Challenges

Cost. Though the higher cost comes with high rewards, students on a shoestring budget need to be aware of the reality of costs that will be incurred during high school programs in Western Europe. Financial restrictions should not stop ambitious students from pursuing their ideal program, however; instead this challenge should fuel students to complete thorough research and choose an appropriate destination for their budget or spend time fundraising and applying for scholarships.

Artful Living. If travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer, students passionate the finer things in life will find no better destination for programs abroad than Western Europe. With deep historical context, top-notch cuisine, and an endless collection of inspiring art, students will learn the true value of travel during high school programs in Western Europe, opening themselves up to new experiences and ideas.

Additional Travel. One of the biggest benefits of high school programs in Western Europe as a whole is the close proximity to surrounding countries. No matter which European destination students choose, they will be in a prime location for additional exploration leading up to, during, or following their program. 

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A Guide To
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