Nearly 200,000 lakes, saunas and art festivals make up the unique Finnish culture. If you enjoy skiing, hiking, and even sailing and a balanced mix of small-town life with modern cities, you should immerse yourself in the daily life of one of Europe’s most magical countries. Finns tend to be shy and reserved at first, but will open up when they meet you. Finns focus on common sense, no fuss, and making things work. Enjoy a unique experience of 24 hours of daylight in the summer and all-day darkness during the Arctic winter.

Teenagers in Finland have a lot of independence and enjoy spending time outdoors, even in the winter. Finland’s active culture includes going cycling, boating, skiing, soccer, track-and-field, and pesäpallo (Finnish baseball). Your Finnish friends will attend high school formal dances called vanhojen tanssit with both modern and traditional music.

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Host Family & Community

Family is very important, and everyone shares in the household chores. 


Finland has one of the best education systems in the world, so you can expect classes that are both engaging and challenging. You’ll attend a public high school (lukio) where the year is divided into five or six terms, from mid-August to the end of May. Finnish, Swedish, foreign languages, math, science, psychology, art, music, history and geography are subjects that you will study intensively in each term. There’s no need to be too formal with you teachers, you may even address them by their first names.

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Finnish is the main language of Finland. Swedish is also an official language, and both are spoken in bilingual areas. Having a basic knowledge of English will helpul. AFS will help you find language courses in the first few months or provide you with materials to learn the language on your own before going on your exchange.


Mealtimes in Finland are less formal than in some other countries, so during the weekdays you may prepare and eat food on your own. On weekends, many families dine together and catch up on their activities that week. Meals tend to be simple but nutritious, including meat, fish, potatoes, pasta, bread and dairy products. Coffee is a favorite beverage, even among teenagers, often with a sweet wheat bread called pulla.

Mustikka pie 💜💜 #finland

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Let AFS guide your intercultural adventure

Go abroad with AFS to discover who you really are, make new lifetime friendships and immerse yourself in a fascinating intercultural experience.

Our learning program will prepare you for an amazing AFS intercultural experience. The program begins at your home country with a pre-departure orientation and continues with orientations and other supported learning activities and facilitated conversations will help you maximize your experience, cope the challenges of navigating a new culture and community and gain knowledge, skills, and a global understanding, throughout your time abroad, and as you return to you home country. AFS volunteers will be there to support and guide you and your host family through your learning journey abroad.


The Global Competence Certificate (GCC) program will support your intercultural learning experience. This state-of-the-art program prepares you to successfully navigate new cultural environments—during your AFSNext experience and long after you finish the program. Online intercultural learning modules combined with in-person sessions help you develop practical and global skills, knowledge and attitudes that employers need and mission-driven organizations believe will help achieve their social impact goals. You will receive your certification upon completion of the training program.