Frequently Asked Questions

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Every year, the same questions about our exchange program abroad come up. This is why we have the 'to go abroad tab' to answer the most common questions.

You are thinking to host a foreign exchange student? Here are the most common questions under the 'to host' tab.

If you cannot find the answer to your question below, feel free to ask my STS Adivsor on this page!
 

Questions about the registration process and admission requirements

Questions about the host families

Questions about travel, tours and excursions

Questions about school

Questions about leisure time

Questions about visas

Questions about vaccinations

Questions about insurance

Questions about contacts or relationships with other exchange students

Questions about a specific area choice in the host country

Questions about pocket money

Questions about laptops and cells


Questions about the registration process and admission requirements

When can I apply?

You can register at any time up until a few months before the departure date. Proper documentation takes time to gather and there are a lot of paperwork to be filled out by your doctor or your school before your application is complete. You should also be aware that many of the participating countries only have a limited number of spots. We encourage you to apply early.

 

What is the first step in the application process?

To join our program, you can pre-apply online here. Once we have received your pre-application form, you will be invited to a personal interview face to face, in STS, at home or via Skype. The interview is conducted in English wherever you go. The interview lasts about an hour. Your interview will provide additional notes to your file. STS staff will then determine if you meet the requirements to become an exchange student.

 

How can I be sure to meet the conditions to go on an exchange?

Our STS office in Ottawa will quickly tell you if your application is accepted. For special scholarships in partnership with your school board, their recommendation will be very important. There are different criterias depending on the country where you want to go on exchange: age, language proficiency, grade point average ... That's why we recommend a choice of 3 countries in order of preference. This will avoid a waste of time and get a spot in a country of your choice as fast as possible. All accepted exchange students are young people who have a strong desire to travel and learn, whether a new culture and a new language, and who are not afraid of new challenges.

 

 

Questions about the host families

How does STS select the Host Families?

All host families selected by STS go through an application process and acceptance prior to approval. All those who wish to become a host family must complete an application and will also be visited at their home. References are required and in countries where the law allows a criminal check is requested. When a family is allowed to have an exchange student, it is the STS office in the host country that helps the families to choose their student thanks to the student’s complete file. It is always the host family who chooses the student not the opposite.

 

Why do Host Families host?

Families choosing to open their home to an exchange student long to share their country and culture while learning another culture and enriching their knowledge. All our Host Families are volunteers. Only our India program is a program in a student residence with a family immersion on weekends.

 

What will be my daily expenses at the host family?

The room and board are graciously offered by the host family. You must pay for your meals at school unless you can lunch at your Host Family’s home. Host Families often appreciate the fact that you offer to pay for your share when you go out to eat. You must also pay for your personal specific needs such as shampoo, soap and other personal hygiene product. However, this can vary from one family to another.


Will I have my own room in my host family?

In many cases, you will have your own room, but you must be willing to share a room with a brother or sister home (same gender and similar age).


Do I have to help the family with household chores?

As an exchange student, the idea is that you should be on an equal footing with the rest of the family. This means that you need to help for everyday tasks like setting the table, storing, cleaning your room and any similar obligations, such as any other family members.


Can you say no to a family without knowing if it will work well?

Do not say no to your placement prior to departure. STS encourages you to give the host family a chance to show who they are. You cannot evaluate a family on a link or photo.


Can I say no to a single parent placement?

If you are offered a placement with a single father or with a same-sex couple, you will be given the opportunity to refuse for a more traditional placement.


Can I change my host family during my stay?

It takes time to feel comfortable in a new country with a host family. Be ready to give time for the relationship to grow and mature. Your Area Representative is always ready to help you if you need to change host family. STS will find another host family if it is considered that the relationship cannot be maintained. In any case, all parties will be consulted.


Can I change my host family to live closer to school?

If your Host Family has been approved, the distance between the home and the school was considered satisfactory according to local criteria. Some students live within reasonable walking distance of the school, while other students may take a bus or train. Please note that distances in other countries are often very different from those in Canada.


Can I have a family if I have asthma?

If you suffer from asthma or other allergies, you need to let STS know at the beginning of your application. It is important for us to know so that we can find a Host Family that suits you. Allergies or medical conditions are perceived differently from one country to another. Our experience will help us direct you to the perfect place for you.


What should I do if I do not have a Host Family after a few weeks my file has been sent?

At STS, we guarantee the placement of all our accepted students.


Can my natural family visit me on my exchange?

STS strongly discourages your natural family to stay at your host family’s home. By experience, we know that it can destroy the natural process of your integration and exchange. Natural family and friends should generally not visit before the end of the program.


Can I go home during my school holidays?

You cannot go home during school holidays. The idea of the exchange is also to discover other traditions that your host family is eager to show you.


Can I be placed with a family I know?

Yes, this is what STS calls a direct placement. However, this requires that the known family is approved as an STS Host Family, that there is a secondary school and an STS Area Rep nearby.

 

 

Questions about travel, tours and excursions

Am I traveling with other students to my STS host country?

All departures to the same country are performed simultaneously. We strive to ensure that all departures abroad are held in groups. For the same country, young people may have different final destinations. It is possible that you have to take your last leg by yourself. STS staff will be present at the arrival airport as to help you take a domestic correspondence alone or with other STS exchange students. We will ensure that you are reassured. When you arrive in the host country, you will be greeted by your Area Rep and/or your host family.


Is there an STS staff member during the journey?

Departures of more than 20 students to the same country have an escort on the long-haul flight. This service is free for all groups of over 20. However, each year, many students travel alone or in small groups. If this is the case, you will have in hand all the necessary information for an easy flight and STS staff will be at your arrival in the host country.


When to go and when to start the optional Preparation Course?

The departure date is provided to you when you receive your placement. This date varies depending on your back-to-school date in your host country. STS offers optional Preparation Course for students going to the USA (New York), Australia (Sydney), France (Paris), Italy (Milan) and Spain (Barcelona). Most students come up to one week before school starts.


How long in advance do I know my departure date?

Your departure date is provided to you when you receive your placement. Placements happen from a few months until a few days before departure.


Will I get a direct flight?

This varies from one country to another. Often a domestic leg in the host country is expected. STS does its best to find the most direct flight to your final destination.


How many luggage can I have?

The number of suitcases and their maximum weight vary from one company to another. Refer to the website of the airline regarding your trip. The flight details are given to you when your departure gets closer.

 

 

Questions about school

Can I get credit for my time spent abroad?

Initially, it is not possible to obtain a credit for an exchange abroad. However talk to your school guidance to know the rules that apply and how to validate some credits.


Will I have the opportunity to take an exam and receive a diploma?

Only the direction of the host school can decide if you meet the prerequisites to participate in the final exams. For sure, you must go on an exchange at least one school year to qualify. STS cannot interact with the school decision.


Which subjects do I follow?

This varies depending on the country and the curriculum. Generally, schools exchange students attend offer some compulsory subjects. Examples of mandatory subjects: History, English, the national language and Mathematics. In addition, it is often possible to choose elective courses offered at the school.


Will there other exchange students in my school?

Sometimes there are other exchange students in the same school as yours. If by chance there is another Canadian exchange student in your school, you should do your best to connect with locals rather than sticking together.


Will I get grades?

Only the Direction and teachers of your host school will decide. STS cannot influence this decision. Generally speaking exchange students do get grades.


What kind of school will I attend?

STS works with secondary schools, large and small, and every year new schools integrate our programs. So we cannot say in advance which school you may attend.

 

 

Questions about leisure time

Can I take the driver's license test, if local regulations permit?

If a school offers driving lessons and if your parents and your host family agree to it along with STS approval, you can. However, as an exchange student, you are not allowed to drive and use your driver's license after class, which means you can only keep it as a souvenir. This is especially true for the United States. Also, taking the license test can be very expensive.


Can I practice my favorite activity?

If you play a particular sport or you have other interests, it is important that you mention it in your file. In this way, we try to find a Host Family who might have the same interest. You should also seize the opportunity to try new sports and activities while abroad. STS does hope that all students are open to new possibilities.


Will there be organized trips with other exchange students?

Yes, in most countries of our programs, organized tours and trips are offered during your holidays. It is always optional. You can get more information on locations and dates when you arrive in your host country. It should be noted that these visits are not included in the program cost.

 

Can I travel alone?

As an exchange student, you can participate in excursions organized by the school or through a local organization, if approved by the host family and your parents. You can also travel with your host family, but for safety reasons you cannot do so on your own or with a friend.

 


Questions about visas

Will I have to apply for visa myself?

If you are traveling to a country where it is necessary to have a visa, it is your responsibility to obtain it. STS will help you with what you need to start your visa application, but we cannot do it for you as authorities do not allow anyone to do it for someone else’s. It is therefore your responsibility to prepare all documents, and even make an appointment for your interview at the embassy if necessary. Documents and instructions will be sent to you by STS.


Can I go on exchange if I do not have a passport?

No. All exchanges require a passport. If you do not have one, you must request yours as soon as possible. If you are not a Canadian citizen, contact the embassy of the country where you want to go to learn about the rules that apply to your nationality. If you hold a European Union passport, you do not need any visa to do an exchange in Europe.

 

 

Questions about vaccinations

Will I pay for my shots?

You are responsible to have all your vaccines updated. It is often a requirement in host countries to attend school. STS, in collaboration with Falck Travel Care, has prepared a document, which is located in the registration application of vaccines needed by the continent where you travel.
If you are traveling to Asia or Latin America, there may be extra vaccines at your own cost.


Questions about insurance

Do I need a travel insurance with STS?

Yes, STS offers an all-inclusive insurance which is specifically adapted for exchange students. You can decide to take your own insurance. In that case, it is important to note that it must have at least the same coverage as the STS one. STS collaborates with Falck Travel Care. Please also keep in mind that an individual insurance does not allow the local team to help the student with anything. We therefore strongly advise to opt for the STS Falck Travel Care Insurance.

 

Does my insurance cover braces or dentures?

Basically, the insurance does not cover dental visits and possible denture settings during the stay. You would even pay to go to the dentist when you are wearing braces. Have you consulted your dentist in Canada to see if adjustments are needed in the next year? This can be handy to get from your dentist a letter in English about what needs to be done so that you can go and see a dentist in your host country. Do you have specific questions about this? Feel free to contact Falck Travel Care and ask them questions about your situation.


Questions about contacts or relationships with other exchange students

How can I get in contact with other exchange students?

There are always many questions about this. STS has created a Facebook profile where alumni share their experiences and you can ask them your questions directly. You will also find information about the meetings organized by STS and all other activities. Of course, you can always contact the STS office for any questions. If you wish to have a private contact with a former STS student, call us and we will share contact details.

 

Questions about a specific area choice in the host country

Is it possible to choose a specific state or city?

You can notify us of your placement preference in the host country. However, this desire cannot be guaranteed as all STS offices will always prefer a good family no matter where in the country rather than a family that is not a good match for you in your preferred location. This is not the place that matters, but the people we live with.


Questions about pocket money

How much pocket money should I have?

STS recommends a monthly allowance of $150 and $400. It varies very much from one country to another and also depending on your habits and needs.

 

Questions about laptops and cells

Can I use my mobile abroad?

Today, almost every cellular works everywhere in the world, but we strongly advise you to contact your provider and check that your cell phone works and how much it would cost in your host country.
Every year, some students have very bad surprises with their Canadian cellphone bill. It may be advantageous to have a cell phone unlocked, because you will be able to buy a local SIM card in your host country and get a local number. This is the cheapest way to call internally in the host country.


Can I bring my laptop?

Yes, you can bring your laptop, we recommend that you talk to your host family. Rules regarding internet and computer usage greatly varies from one family to the next. Some host families do not like teens to spend too much free time on the computer. Enjoy your time abroad to discover the people, language and country. Moderate your online presence.

Can I be a Host Family?

How do I become a host family?

How are students selected?

Who are STS exchange students?

How long do students stay?

Do the students speak English?

Do the students have health insurance?

What are the student's financial responsibilities?

Which Secondary Schools do the STS exchange students go to?

What are the Host Family responsibilities?

Why is the STS Foundation program based on volunteers?

Can we choose the student we will host?

How do I integrate the student into my family life?

What help do Host Families get from STS?

What if it doesn't work out?

Is this experience as unique as you say?

You feel like hearing more about it?

 

 

Can I be a Host Family?

STS host families come from all walks of life. They include urban families, farming families, couples and individuals, with or without children. To be eligible you must be over 25, have a clear police check and able to provide meals and a bed. The most important qualification is the right attitude. STS host parents are caring, open-minded, understanding and interested in learning about other cultures. They are the kind of people you would want your own children to live with if they travelled overseas.

How do I become a host family?

To initiate the process of becoming a host family, complete the application form on our website. We will contact you and give you more information on the program and your obligations. After confirmation of your application, a local STS representative will visit you at your home, talk with all the members of your family and answer your questions. If your family is selected, you will work with the STS Area Representative to choose the student who fits in with your family, local school and community.

How are STS students selected?

Our STS offices and partner organizations around the world work with the same procedures and criterias. Every new student is interviewed, their medical and academic records are checked and references are always required. Students can come from over 20 countries, are aged between 14 and 18 years old and have sufficient financial means to support themselves on their exchange. Each student has pocket money to cover personal expenses and school costs.

Who are STS exchange students?

STS students are enthusiastic secondary school students aged 14 to 18. Most of them are Europeans (Austrian, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, Swiss). At STS, we can also receive students from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Thailand, South Africa, Brazil, Ecuador... They have a strong desire to learn about Canada and to act as ambassadors for their countries. STS staff carefully screen all students in their home countries to determine whether they have the maturity, academic achievements, language skills and other personal skills to make the most of their experience in Canada.

How long do students stay?

Most of our students come for 10 months. A few are coming for 5 months. They arrive either in late January or late August.

Do the students speak English?

All Students have learning English for a minimum of 3 years. Their English is good enough to perform well in a local secondary school. As with any non-native speaker, there may be a period at the beginning of the exchange where they need extra help and patience as they get used to speaking and hearing English all the time.

Do the students have health insurance?

All STS students have private health insurance cover, it is mandatory for them to enroll in our program. Most of them are covered by the insurance STS partnered with. If they do have a private insurance, STS made sure this insurance covers as much as the insurance STS recommends.

What are the student's financial responsibilities?

Students provide their own spending money for long distance phone calls, local transport costs and other travel expenses, special subjects costs and extra-curricular activities, personal items such as clothing and toiletries. Any school expenses such as eventual school fees and material are the student’s own responsibility. Students are expected to have access to a minimum of $200 a month to cover personal expenses and all ongoing school costs.

Which Secondary schools do the STS exchange students go to?

Our Regional Manager knows which school can approve our student in your area and will arrange the school approval. All STS Exchange students go to a STS-partnered secondary school. A partnership can be arranged with your local school if none are existent. The school may ask you to assist with finalizing the enrolment details upon the student’s arrival.

What are the Host Family responsibilities?

Appreciate, love and care. We could sum up your responsibilities as such. Every Host Family is to welcome the student as a member of your family, not as a guest, and to provide the same care and support you would give to your own children. We ask that you provide a bed and two to three meals a day. Students assume the normal responsibilities as a member of your family and are expected to undertake the same simple chores you would expect your own children to do.

Why is the STS Foundation program based on volunteers?

STS foundation is a registered, non-profit student exchange organization. Our Exchange programs are based and depend on a network of volunteers to offer a low-cost high-quality program throughout the world. Volunteers come in at different level: host families, area representatives, school ambassadors… all of them help us to look after the students while they are here and provide additional support services. The combined result is that many more students can share in the experience of living and studying in another culture. We can also guarantee to natural parents that our Host Families have the right motivation to host and that they will treat our student like a family member.

Can we choose the student we will host?

We will at first draft your family profile. We consider many factors before selecting potential students for your family. We look at the students' interests, personality, attitude and values. Then we match these characteristics to what we know about your family, community and school. We then present you a part of the available matching students’ file. That part includes a Dear-Potential-Host-Family letter along with pictures. This will often give you a special insight into the student which will help your decision. You then make your decision. STS staff can help you with your choice.

How do I integrate the student into my family life?

Treat your student as your own son or daughter. Time spent with friends outside the home is an important part of the student's learning experience but he/she will also have to participate in your family's activities. Establish guidelines for his/her behavior as you would for your own children. Shortly after he/she arrives, explain your rules, as well as your expectations regarding household responsibilities and duties. STS students are not allowed to drink alcoholic beverages, take illegal drugs or drive a vehicle. Students who violate these rules are immediately sent home.

What help do Host Families get from STS?

STS provides an Area Representative who lives nearby. Trained by us, this person provides support to the host family and the student. Our staff is available 24/7 in case of an emergency. We arrange transport for the student to the nearest International airport when they arrive. We also provide you with handbooks and other information.

What if it doesn't work out?

STS staff are fully prepared to find another family for your student if the hosting experience does not work out for you or if the "chemistry" between your family and the student doesn't seem right. Most times misunderstandings or problems are resolved with the help of the STS local representative. If a move becomes necessary, STS places no blame or fault on the student or the family.

Is this experience as unique as you say?

You could talk to families and students who would tell you how their lives changed by participating in our student exchange program. However we wouldn’t dare say that your semester or year would be without problems –after all you are welcoming a teenager into your home. But what you get in return is so rewarding. We find host families cope well and help students through any problems they have and STS is here to support you locally and at the national level.

You feel like hearing more about it?

Feel free to contact us at contact@stsfoundation.ca to request more information.

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