नमस्ते! Hello! As you all know, I will be leaving for India in eight days with AFS Intercultural Programs. The excitement and anxiousness is growing each day, but at the same time it doesn’t seem real. Luckily, AFS has been fantastic so far and I know they will take care of me. Today, I thought I’d share with you all what the application process was like in case any of you decide to study abroad with AFS in the future! While it was a shorter and simpler process for me since my program is only two weeks, many elements of my application were similar to those for the year or semester programs.
To get started, you need to go to http://www.afsusa.org or, if you don’t live in the U.S, http://www.afs.org and then select your home country. The site has a ton of resources to learn more about the various programs and I highly recommend looking at them. The possibilities are endless! I started thinking about doing some sort of study abroad in September 2014 when I was still considering spending my junior year abroad, and this website was so incredibly useful and informative. Ideally you’ll be more decisive than I was and decide if and where you’re going a couple months before the application deadline rather than a couple days, but oh well, live and learn. Once you know what you want to apply for, click Apply Now! and fill out the form. You have to choose your top three programs, but you can still change them later so don’t obsess over it! Also, even if you’re not sure that you want to go, open an application anyway! You can always close it and as long as you don’t submit it before you’ve made a decision there’s no harm done. I really wish I had done that sooner. After submitting that primary form, you’ll then receive an email with a link to your full application. Personally, I LOVE how it’s set up. There’s a tab with instructions for each section, a tab with the application itself, a tab with payment info, one with travel info, and one with placement info. It’s all very user-friendly and if you have any questions, just call AFS! I found them to be incredibly helpful and knowledgable as well as wonderfully nice people.
In the application, you have to fill out forms such as a health form, participation agreement, and your self-introduction as well as forms with questions about your family and lifestyle for them to reference when choosing your host family. For longer programs you also need a teacher recommendation, forms filled out by your doctor, a grade transcript, and possibly a few other things I’m forgetting, so it’s definitely a more complex process. You should give yourself at least two weeks to complete it, but the sooner it’s submitted the more likely you’ll get your first choice. For long programs there’s also an early-application date in the winter that increases the likelihood that you’ll get your top choice. This trip was a last-minute decision for me so I completed mine in about three days, but I wouldn’t recommend that, especially for longer programs!
Overall I found the application to be fairly painless and actually kind of fun! However, once you’ve submitted it, you get to play hurry-up-and-wait. Though my application was accepted by AFS-USA within a few days and AFS-India within a week, after that it was a lot of “waiting for further information”. Travel dates, host families, and itineraries for the trip all took a couple months to arrive and because most of them came from AFS-India, AFS-USA couldn’t tell me when I would receive them. But when you’re running and organizing as many programs and students as AFS is, it’s understandable. And while waiting sucks, there’s also a some fun in the anticipation!
Well this was a very info-heavy post, but I hope that it was still interesting and maybe even helped some people! If you have any questions, comment them below! My next post will be about receiving my host family and how I’m feeling about living with essentially strangers for two weeks, eek! अलविदा! Goodbye!