How to Become an Exchange Student

What kinds of Exchanges are available?

In Rotary District 5010, we offer both Long-Term (about ten months) and Short-Term (Two month Summer) Exchanges.
The 10-to-12-month exchange is open to students ages 14-17, who are attending high school full-time. Most students are 16-17 years old during their exchange year, and students cannot be 18 or over at any time during that year. Students live with more than one family in their host country and are required to attend school. Long-term exchanges, which usually start in the summer, may be extended to include part or all of the holiday and vacation periods immediately before or after the academic year.
Short-Term Exchanges are a person to person experience where families host a teen for about four weeks, then the teens travel to the foreign country for a similar visit. Applicants can choose the country they wish to exchange with, then contacts are made through Rotary to facilitate the experience. Applications are due in January for the summer program.

When and how do I apply for Long Term Youth Exchange?

Applications for our Long Term Exchange Program are received and processed by individual clubs in October. The program is highly selective and the application process can begin more than a year before departure. Interested candidates should click here to fill out the Initial Application Form (due October 15). Interested students are encouraged to contact local Rotarians to learn more. After selection by a local Rotary Club, a more detailed application will be required and submitted with the appropriate fee.

When and how do I apply for Short Term Summer Youth Exchange?

Applications for our Short Term Exchange Program for summer are received and processed by individual clubs in January. The program is open to teens that want a month-long experience in a foreign country and are willing to host an individual for a similar length of time. Interested candidates should click here to fill out the Initial Application Form (due January 31). Interested students are encouraged to contact local Rotarians to learn more. After selection by a local Rotary Club, a more detailed application will be required and submitted with the appropriate fee.

Where can I go on an exchange?

The Rotary Youth Exchange program is active in over 100 countries and geographical areas. District 5010 exchanges students with roughly 20 countries each year. Selected students are placed in communities where a local club has agreed to host a participant AND send a student out on an exchange. Applicants may state a preference for particular countries available to students in District 5010, but placement in that country is not guaranteed. The philosophy of the program is that the success of the exchange depends not on the country but on the students, and their attitude, preparedness and willingness to make their year a success.

How much does it cost?

For the Long Term Program District 5010 has a flat-rate fee system, which is usually around $7,400 per student but is subject to change each year. The fee is payable in three installments: November, March and June before the exchange year begins. The fee includes two or three group orientations, visas, round-trip air transportation, health and travel insurance, a starter slide show or PowerPoint presentation, business cards and a blazer. Parents are responsible for clothing, spending money, optional District-arranged tours and a $500 emergency fund held by the hosting club, which will be returned if not needed. For long-term exchanges, the host club will pay any school tuition fees for required academic programs, orientations or language courses required by the hosting country and provide a modest monthly allowance ($100 U.S. or rough equivalent in other countries). Host families selected by the host club provide room and board.
For the Short Term Program the fee is $400 which covers administration and insurance. The family is responsible for all other costs associated with training and travel, hosting the incoming student, passport and visa fees if applicable, and spending money.

What are the rules?

Each district and club sets rules that students are expected to follow to preserve the exchange structure and ensure safety. To help students understand the rules and expectations, districts conduct mandatory program orientation sessions. In addition to club and district rules, Rotary International has set forth the following expectations:
  • Follow the local laws and customs in the host country
  • Follow the host district and club rules
  • Follow the host family's rules, such as curfews and household chores
  • Do not drive or operate a motorized vehicle of any kind
If a student disobeys agreed-upon rules or an insurmountable problem arises, the host district may decide that it is in the student's best interest to return home early.

What if I am not sure if I want to go on an exchange?

It is normal to be anxious when considering living abroad for an extended period of time. Students must be sure that they are comfortable with the program before they leave on an exchange. Students who have serious reservations about any aspect of the exchange or feel that they cannot meet their obligations should seek the counsel of a local Rotarian or former program participant. Youth exchange is a wonderful opportunity but a major commitment, and students should feel fully comfortable before they embark on their exchange.

Do I need to be fluent in my host country's language?

Though most host districts do not require students to be fluent in the local language on arrival, students are strongly encouraged to enroll in classes to develop a basic competency before departure, and continue their studies in their host country. Language proficiency is sometimes needed to obtain a visa, and host districts may require exchange students to take language classes after they arrive. An ability to understand the language will help students become comfortable with their new surroundings and ease homesickness.