May 15, 2023
Activities and Tips

Working with Study Abroad Organizations: A Guide for International Students and Host Families

Three students stand in a small group conversing.

Study abroad organizations arrange and facilitate international exchange programs. But what does that mean? In this article, we’ll explore how study abroad organizations connect international students with host families across the world. We’ll look at:

  • What study abroad organizations do
  • How study abroad programs work for international students
  • How study abroad programs work for host families

Ayusa has been connecting international students and host families since 1981. We work with global high schools through our expansive team of representatives, bringing high-achieving students to new places where they can build lifelong connections and have life-changing experiences. Let’s take a closer look at what study abroad organizations do.

What Do Study Abroad Organizations Do?

Study abroad organizations help make international travel and study opportunities available to students. Ayusa works exclusively with high school students to make international study abroad programs accessible. In this section, we’ll cover how Ayusa supports students in:

  1. Program placement assistance
  2. Visa and travel assistance
  3. Partnering international students with host families

As the number of international students in the U.S. begins to rise again, working with an established study abroad organization makes a difference in accessing quality exchange programs. We work with families to navigate the process of finding the perfect program and host family for students. Ayusa also works with prospective host families to understand how study abroad programs work and how to get involved.

Program Placement Assistance

At Ayusa, we focus on connecting high school students to the best international exchange experiences. We offer program placement assistance for international students who are interested in studying in the U.S., and for American students who are interested in studying in Germany or Japan. 

We work with international offices and partners to help students commence overseas studies. We guide students through our application process to determine their eligibility, destination of interest, and program options. Our team of community representatives coordinates with our host families and local schools to help place students in the U.S. 

Our program placement assistance goes beyond just finding the right exchange program. As part of our services, we are driven to help high-achieving international students break stereotypes and attain YES Grants. We are proud to work with the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange & Study Program to help extend exciting study abroad opportunities to students from predominantly Muslim countries.. 

Visa and Travel Assistance

Ayusa has worked with the State Department for decades to bring driven students to the U.S. through the Exchange Visitors Program (EVP). Once students are approved for their exchange visitor program visa, also known as a J-1 visa, they’ll work with the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). 

Understanding the EVP and SVP processes can be daunting for students. We work with international students and host families to understand what the SEVP is and how the process works.

Our team of community representatives play a pivotal role in this process as they work with students early in their application with Ayusa. 

Your community representative will: 

  • Assist with coordinating all necessary paperwork
  • Work with you on your visa application
  • Assist you with fee payments
  • Organize health insurance coverage

In addition to assisting you prior to your travel to the U.S., community representatives play a key role in supporting students during their exchange. Community representatives meet with families and students monthly to offer advice and support where needed. 

Other ways community representatives offer support include:

  • Maintaining  regular contact with your American high school 
  • Conducting quarterly reports on your exchange achievements and progression
  • Evaluating your progress in family life, academic achievement, and social activities

Consider your community representative your partner throughout the visa and travel arrangements process. They make sure study abroad organizations run smoothly for all of our host students!

Partnering International Students with Host Families

A key responsibility of your community representative is connecting students with host families through community outreach. Once you’ve submitted your application to become an Ayusa student, you will be asked to share your destination preferences for study options in the United States. During this process, your community representative will get to work and find the host family that best suits your needs. 

Host families come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s important to find one that fits you well. Whether you have an interest in living on a farm or in a major city, our team will find the exact family to support you. 

For U.S. students looking to study abroad, Ayusa offers a variety of programs in Germany and Japan. Before choosing which program you’re most interested in, it’s worth considering the expectations you have for your study abroad program. Do you want to study for a semester? Or something longer, like the summer or full school year?

Having a clear idea of how long you’re comfortable being away from home, and what you’d like to gain from your study abroad experience, helps in partnering you with the right program and host family.

Study Abroad Programs and International Students

For international students, study abroad organizations simplify the process of finding the right exchange program. But what does it take to actually get into a study abroad program? At Ayusa, our eligibility requirements ensure we’re working with exceptional students who are enthusiastic to study overseas.

We’re committed to bringing students together with host families to create unforgettable study abroad experiences, fostering global connections and encouraging diversity.

In this section, we’ll cover the eligibility requirements for international students and U.S. students applying with Ayusa. We’ll also look at the different program options available for American students interested in studying in Germany and Japan, and the benefits of becoming an Ayusa student.


At Ayusa, we determine the eligibility of our students on three key factors:

  1. Character
  2. Language proficiency
  3. A health assessment


We look for students who exhibit strong character and demonstrate leadership skills. International exchange programs rely on your ability to be mature and open-minded. International exchange programs are experiences that foster a lot of personal development. It’s important that as an Ayusa student, you are well-rounded and adaptive to the change in the environment that comes with a study abroad program. 

Students must be strong academic performers who are enthusiastic to learn in a new setting and gain cultural experiences through their exchange program.

Language Proficiency

Students must have an ELTiS English proficiency score of 212. It’s essential for international students who are interested in pursuing study abroad programs in the U.S. to have a strong understanding of English. As you’ll be living with an American host family and attending an American school, having a firm grasp of English is an important factor when we consider a student’s eligibility. 

Health Assessment

Students must have all required immunizations ahead of their international travel. It’s important that students share any health conditions or concerns with their community representative, as they will be your point of contact for any health coverage you may need access to. For example, if you have a preexisting health condition, such as asthma, you need to make sure you advise your community representative so your host family will be aware of your needs.

Your eligibility is the first step in starting your study abroad program application. Study abroad organizations look at these factors to ensure that students are able to handle the exchange program experience. It’s important that you meet the eligibility requirements in order to be a successful international student applicant. 


For U.S. students interested in studying abroad, Ayusa offers a variety of programs in Germany and Japan to choose from. Let’s take a closer look at the types of programs you may be eligible for in Germany.


Our work with program partners in Germany allows U.S. students to visit for any length of time between a few weeks to an entire school year. You’ll have the opportunity to stay with a German host family, attend a German high school, and experience local culture. 

The Berlin Language Camp is a short-stay exchange program that focuses on teaching you German in an immersive environment. Some of the benefits of the Ayusa Berlin Language Camp include:

  • Intensive German courses from Monday-Friday (15 hours per week)
  • Organized additional afternoon activities several times a week
  • Learn the language while living in Germany and spending time with locals

Our Germany Abroad Academic Program offers students a German host family experience. You’ll have independent options to explore your adopted German hometown as you make friends during your stay. Some of the benefits of the Ayusa German Abroad Academic Program include:

  • Attending a local German secondary school
  • Flexibility around the duration of your stay
  • Choose to start your program in summer or winter

For international students interested in studying abroad in the U.S., there are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to locations. You’ll have the option to study in any of the 50 states with a host family that suits your interests and needs. Whether you’re looking for a spot in scenic Colorado or a small family in Pennsylvania, we have a host family that will fit you perfectly.

Benefits of Being An International Student

Study abroad organizations make it their mission to enable programs that provide students with great benefits. From personal achievements to academic development, there’s no shortage of growth for students during exchange programs.

Some key benefits our alumni have reported include:

  • An increase in confidence
  • New language skills
  • Building a global network of friends
  • Gaining a second family

Study abroad programs push you outside of your comfort zone and encourage you to build connections in a new place. You’ll develop exciting language skills and increase your confidence as you get to know people abroad. 

Study abroad programs also encourage international relations. You’ll find as you immerse yourself in a new culture that you’ll be building friendships and relationships with people of different backgrounds. This is a skill that you will carry for life, assisting you in cross-cultural communications that you will use in the future. Whether it’s in your career or future travels, building global connections is a powerful tool for international students. 

Study Abroad Organizations and Host Families

Becoming a host family is an exciting way to get involved with study abroad programs. Opening your home up to an international student brings a range of benefits to your family and your local community. In this section, we’ll look at some of the key benefits of hosting international students, including:

  • Gaining a new family member
  • Learning about different cultures
  • Promoting diversity within your community

We ask that our hosts provide students with a comfortable and safe place to stay during their program. You’ll be responsible for three meals per day, providing adequate transport, and offering emotional support to your exchange student for the duration of their stay. Learn about how to become an Ayusa host or request more information from us about hosting opportunities.

Gain a New Family Member

For new hosts, it’s normal to wonder what it’s like to host an exchange student. According to many of our established host families, it feels as if you’re gaining a new member of the family. Host mother Jennifer Linn of Elk River, when discussing the 13 exchange students her family has taken in, shared:

“We feel VERY blessed to call them our children. They bring so much joy to our family and lives that we couldn't imagine it without them.” 

Bringing a student into your home and introducing them to your community is an exciting time. You’ll see things from a new perspective when you bring an international student into your life. 

Becoming a host allows you to spend time with a foreign teen who is curious to learn about the U.S. You’ll provide access to American rites of passage, such as traditions like prom or celebrating American holidays.

For many international students, host families play a crucial role in developing social relationships within their new community. You are their first point of contact in a new place, and are responsible for their welfare during their stay. As a host, you’ll support your student like you would your own child. Get to know them and their unique personal interests as you share meals, commute, and discuss their days at school. 

Some key ways you can build a close connection with your international student include:

  1. Showing an interest in their hobbies
  2. Encouraging them to participate in extracurricular activities
  3. Introducing them to extended family and friends

Many of our hosts find themselves saying a tearful goodbye to their students at the end of their stay. Having spent up to a year with your students, you’ll find you’ve formed close bonds and wish to stay in touch when your student heads home.

Learn About Different Cultures

When you welcome an international student into your home, you’re also welcoming their culture and traditions. It’s important that hosts are open-minded and curious to learn about their student’s home country. 

Participating in an exchange student's traditions can be a great way to learn about different cultures, helping your student to process any homesickness. Sharing cultures through food and celebrating foreign holidays are great ways to support your exchange student while enriching your cultural knowledge. 

When becoming a host family, it’s also important to remember your role in sharing American cultural experiences. Celebrating holidays like Thanksgiving or introducing new holiday traditions can be an exciting and memorable part of your student’s exchange experience. 

Being curious about your student’s native language is another great way to learn about their culture and expand your global knowledge. Exchange language skills over the dinner table as you get to know your exchange student on a more personal level.

Promote Diversity in Your Community

Introducing a foreign exchange student into your community automatically opens up conversations around diversity. Your student will attend a local high school, hang out with fellow students, and participate in your family’s household routines. While visiting the U.S., students will get to know their adopted hometowns and enrich their own cultural awareness during their stay.

This experience is equally as enriching for the student’s surrounding community. Bringing a foreign exchange student into your local school and day-to-day life encourages tolerance around new cultures and fosters curiosity about the world. 

It’s a chance for your friends and family to get to know someone from another culture that they may not have ever met otherwise. As an exchange student’s host, you are encouraging multiculturalism and expanding your local community’s cultural knowledge by introducing a driven and curious student.

Partner with Ayusa and Work With The Best Study Abroad Organizations

Are you curious about studying abroad? Start your student application with us today!

Do you want to gain an additional family member and learn about a new culture? Discover how to become a host with us and start your application. It’s an exciting way to promote diversity and expand your family’s cultural knowledge. 

Unsure where to begin? Request more information from us so we can help you work with the best study abroad organizations. We can’t wait to get started!

Sharing cultures and building communities with high school exchange.

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