Quest Exchange in Germany

Germany is a modern, cosmopolitan country where each of the 16 German federal states have their own fascinating landscapes, tourist attractions and culinary delights. Bavaria is the “beer state”, which hosts “Oktoberfest,” Neuschwanstein Castle and the magnificent Alpine scenery that attracts more foreign tourists than any other federal state. With more than 2,000 lakes, numerous waterways and lush green in between, its over 200 miles of Baltic coastline are a major attraction for water sports enthusiasts.

While you can still enjoy heavy traditional cuisine such as roasted pork with dumplings and sauerkraut, Germans have become far more varied and health-conscious. In this vein, Germany has a lot to offer in terms of sports, relaxing nature, festivals, cultural celebrations, holiday resorts, design, fashion, inspiring architecture, and art.

Go take a hike through the wonderful landscapes of Germany, and don’t forget to try German sauerkraut!

3 Fun Facts
  • Berlin is 9 times bigger than Paris and has more bridges than Venice.
  • One-third of the country is still covered in forests and woodlands.
  • Donaudampfschifffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft is the longest word to be published. It is 79 letters long.
Program Dates


Sept – June/July/Aug


Sept – Mid Jan
Mid Jan – June/July/Aug


3 Month
2 Month
1 Month


The school year in Germany varies because each state has it’s own schedule and holidays. But, generally speaking, the school year runs from September through June, July or August. The Fall semester runs from September through January and the Spring semester starts in January and ends in either June, July or August. There are usually three 2-week holidays, one in the Fall, one in the Winter and one in the Spring. The main holiday is during the summer and lasts for about six weeks.

German schooling is based on nine years of compulsory education for all children. There are a variety of secondary schools: Hauptschule, Realschule, Gesamtschule, and Gymnasium. The standards and the balance between practical and theoretical subjects vary between the different types of secondary schools, and so does the number of school years. Gymnasium provides in-depth education and most exchange students attend this type of school.

Exchange students will attend a public Gymnasium and are placed in grade 10, 11, or 12. Every Gymnasium decides which grade the exchange student will attend. Students usually have to take compulsory classes such as math, German, English, social science, natural science and physical education. In addition, students can choose other subjects like music, arts, computer science etc., depending on what the school offers. In German schools, students have the opportunity to learn English, French, Spanish and Latin.

Students are strongly urged to become involved in extra-curricular activities outside of school, such as sports, clubs, social events, art, music, or drama, as long as these activities do not interfere with their academic progress. In Germany these activities are outside of the school arena.


Spending time together is very important to German families. Since Germany is densely populated, entertainment and other activities are always nearby. German infrastructure is well developed and makes traveling easy. Historical sights, top quality concerts, art exhibitions, theater performances, international sporting events, street festivals and atmospheric Christmas markets are just a few of the attractions that can be visited. The Germans love to celebrate, and never miss an opportunity to do so. Many festivals such as Munich’s renowned “Oktoberfest,” Christopher Street Day in Cologne, the Carnival of the Cultures in Berlin, “Fastnacht” in Mainz and Carnival in Cologne have long been an international symbol of high spirits and a cosmopolitan atmosphere.

Like in many European countries, there is no typical family structure in Germany anymore. Nowadays, both parents work and the traditional family exists alongside single parents or so-called “patchwork families.” In their everyday life, people are busy with work and school during the day, and most families have dinner together. In Germany, around two-thirds of the population profess to be of the Christian faith. Nevertheless, most Germans do not attend religious services regularly.

Spare time activities are very popular in Germany and soccer is certainly the biggest sport. Other popular sports are gymnastics, tennis, shooting, athletics and handball. More than 40 % of all Germans regularly do a sport, and sport is one of their preferred hobbies. Since Germans love being active they are always busy doing something. They love traveling and enjoy visiting places in their own country as well as further away.

Exchange students should plan yo help out in the host family’s home and join the family for family activities. In addition to family life, it is important that the student builds his or her own social life and find hobbies. Most German teenagers are taught to be independent and participate in making decisions from an early age.

Program Requirements

Students must have a basic level of German language skills to participate in this program. The students may be required to attend extra language classes upon arrival in Germany if their language skills are not where they need to be. The cost for these classes is not included in Quest program fees.


For stays over 90 days, students will need a visa. Students and parents should research visa requirements through the German consulate or embassy nearest to their home as soon as possible, as this is the most time-intensive component of the study abroad application process. It usually takes four to eight weeks to obtain a German visa. As the details of this process vary greatly by location, neither Quest nor our German partner office can confirm the exact requirements. For this reason, Quest is not able to assist with legal visa documents. It is the student’s responsibility to research the current visa requirements and to obtain and submit the visa application.

Will students have access to Internet/WiFi at their home and school?

Yes, students will have WiFi in their host family home. Schools may or may not allow Internet access.

Can students bring their own cell phones?

Yes, if students have an unlocked cell phone, they could use their personal phone with a German carrier/SIM card.

Can students travel without an adult chaperone if given permission?

Yes, students can travel outside of the host area as long as the required release form is signed by the natural parents, host family, local school, local partner office and Quest.

How much money should students have for spending money?

Students should budget around $250-$250/month for personal expenses, which include entertainment, personal hygiene items, long-distance calls, etc. Additional money should be budgeted for start-up school expenses, such as books and supplies. These fees are in addition to Quest program fees.

What are some cultural norms that describe a typical host family in Germany?

German families really like independent, reliable teenagers. So, if the student demonstrates reliability and maturity, the host family will be much more apt to trust the student and give them more independence. That said, much like American families, German families are very diverse. So, the student should be open-minded and ready to adapt to different families.

How are host families chosen?

Quest’s in-country partner is responsible for locating, screening and matching host families with our students. Host families go through a careful screening process, which typically involves in-person interviews, home inspections and references.

How do students apply for the visa and how long does it take?

For stays over 90 days, students will need a visa. Students and parents should research visa requirements through the German consulate or embassy nearest to their home as soon as possible, as this is the most time-intensive component of the study abroad application process. It usually takes four to eight weeks to obtain a German visa. As the details of this process vary greatly by location, neither Quest nor our German partner office can confirm the exact requirements. For this reason, Quest is not able to assist with legal visa documents. It is the student’s responsibility to research the current visa requirements and to obtain and submit the visa application.

How will the student get to and from school?

Students will generally walk, bike or take the public bus. Transportation fees are the student’s responsibility and are not included in Quest program fees. A monthly bus pass is approximately $35-$70/month.

Is it possible for students to get tutors during their program?

Yes, tutors are available and prices vary based on the subject and duration of tutoring sessions. Costs range from $25-$50/hour.

Can students receive an official document with grades and completed classes after finishing their program? 

Exchange students in Germany do not generally receive grade reports, but they can if they are able to complete all assignments and exams in German. Otherwise, schools will give students a certificate stating that they have attended classes and completed the specified duration of study in Germany. In order to receive either of these documents, students must proactively seek them out. Obtaining this documentation is the student’s responsibility before s/he leaves Germany.

Do schools offer different sports/activities? 

Schools offer PE classes, but sports are usually played at a local club with competitions on some weekends. Some schools offer different types of extracurricular activities like school journal, international club, debate, or school orchestra. Students can also join a music school outside of school.


The rewards of life abroad are amazing and wonderful, but are you up for the unique challenges that come with this experience? You will be away from your friends, family and the lifestyle you are accustomed to. You will have to adapt to a new language, culture, school and family. You will have to make decisions on your own and make new friends. Think about it and do some research on the country you want to study in. There is a wealth of information on the Internet that can better prepare you for your adventure!


Your parent(s) or guardian(s) need to help you make your dream happen. The application process takes time and effort, so it is important, at this stage, to make sure your parents support your decision to study abroad and have given you approval to move forward. If they feel that you are prepared and understand what’s required from them, you are ready to move to the next step.


You may receive credit from your program, but it is your responsibility to make this happen. Only your U.S. school can decide which credits you can receive. You must approach your guidance counselor to determine if you can get the credits you are hoping to receive. Bring Quest’s Academic Guide with you, and be certain of what you will be responsible for.


Fill out our online information request form in order to receive important program information from Quest via email. This email will contain Quest’s Program Agreement and Program Guidelines for your review and signature. Carefully review all of this information with your parents and contact Quest if you have any questions. We are here to help guide you through the process so you can make decisions that fit your needs.


The Quest Program Coordinator will confirm with you the program details submitted on your original request form. If you’re unsure of your destination, we’ll help you narrow down your choices to the country and program season that works for you. We will speak with your parents and make sure that everybody feels informed and ready to proceed with the decisions made.


You and your parents will receive the online Payment Agreement, which states the total program price for your selected destination country and Quest’s payment process. Your parents will receive an invoice for the application deposit, which is due before you submit your student application.


Quest will send you a full student application for the program you have chosen. This application can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to complete. Make sure you give yourself ample time prior to the application deadline to complete the application and supplemental documents.


This is when you get to meet your Quest Program Coordinator and talk face to (virtual) face. During the interview, the Program Coordinator will assess your suitability for the Quest Study Abroad program. This call lasts 30-60 minutes. Parents will speak with us at the end of the call, but the first part of the interview questions must be answered by the student alone. There is no preparation needed other than to talk about yourself, your desire to participate in the program and why you feel you are ready.


Your Quest Program Coordinator will review your application and interview documentation to determine acceptance. Our team members put a lot of thought into the decisions they make, and not all students are accepted into the program. In order to make our decision, Quest must review complete and accurate application materials. We choose students who are emotionally, socially and academically prepared for the study abroad program. We look at each student’s level of maturity, independence and ability to adapt to life in a foreign country.


You will receive a letter of acceptance from Quest via email. Your parents will receive an invoice outlining the total cost with only the first 50% of the total due within 10 days. The final 50% of the remaining program fees are due within 30 days of the invoice date.


This is a very important step in the process and can be very time-intensive. We suggest that you get started researching the requirements as soon as possible with the nearest embassy or consulate for your destination country, as requirements vary by location. Because the process does vary considerably, Quest and our foreign partner office are not able to assist with legal visa documents. It is the student’s responsibility to research the current visa requirements and to obtain and submit the visa application. Start filling out all of the paperwork well in advance, as visa approval can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to obtain.


This is the hardest part: waiting for your school and host family placement information! Making quality placements takes time, and we will need your patience during this important step. Quest will notify you and your parents of a confirmed placement in a school and then again when you are placed with your host family. Write to your host family as soon as possible to introduce yourself, and let them know how excited you are to meet them.


Working together with you and your parents, Quest will confirm your arrival date and book your roundtrip international flight to your placement area. We will also book your student travel and medical insurance for your trip, so you can rest easier while abroad!


Your Quest Program Coordinator will help you get prepped for your trip with a pre-departure orientation prior to your departure. You’ll receive an agenda before the call. We encourage you to write all of your remaining questions down so that we can make you and your parents feel prepared for your trip abroad. We will go over the program rules, what to pack, what to do if you need support once you arrive, and more!


Congratulate yourself and your family for making this happen. You are on your way to the study abroad adventure that you’ve earned!

Balance your time abroad — keep in touch with those back home, but remember that the point of studying abroad is to be present and active in your host country. Keep a blog or an online photo album so you can show all of the revelations you have had and the sights you have seen. On a rainy day, you’ll be happy to reflect on your growing experience abroad. Stay in touch with Local Coordinators and with Quest. We’d love to hear how you are doing!

Programs Available
  • Year
  • Semester
  • 3 Months
  • 2 Months
  • 1 Month
Application Deadline
  • Year/Fall Semester: April 1st
  • Spring Semester: October 1st
  • Short-Term: Variable
Apply Now

Quest International, a nonprofit organization, promoting international cultural awareness and compassion by providing educational programs for American and International students to live and learn together.