Spend Transition Year at a Secondary School in Germany!

Summary Information

Accommodation: Host Family
Duration: 8 weeks to a full academic year

Experiment e.V. - Welcome to Germany

Ideal for Transition Year students, this selective programme gives Irish students the chance to live and study alongside other German students while improving language skills and gaining independence.  This programme is offered for as short as 8 weeks and up to a full academic year. Students benefit from full immersion into the language and culture of Germany by living with a German host family and attending a German secondary school. Side-by-side with other German teenagers, students will learn so much more than just a language and make memories that will last a lifetime.

The application deadline for Autumn 2017 is April 1. We are able to consider applications on a case by case basis. Contact Gillian on 021-4551535 to discuss your application.


All German host families are sourced, vetted and screened through our German partner organisation based in Bonn.  They have a team of local coordinators based throughout Germany who live alongside the host families in their local communities. Host families are carefully selected by the local coordinator after an interview and home visit according to very definite selection criteria: open-mindedness, availability, receptiveness, welcoming environment, and good accommodation conditions.

Placements are mostly made in rural areas (countryside) and medium-sized towns, very rarely in the centre of big towns or cities. Students can be placed in any region in Germany, so they must have an open mind to this when applying, as there is no guarantee of geographical preference in the placement process.

Families are volunteers and receive no allowance for hosting international students. This concept of payment is unique to Ireland and Britain. Therefore, the motivation to host international students is not monetarily based; host families have a genuine interest in learning about the countries of their students and exposing themselves and their children to another culture by hosting. Some families hold the belief that hosting a student from Ireland is the next best thing to visiting Ireland itself. Your child will truly be considered a member of the family, equal in rights and duties, and they share the family's day-to-day life, including leisure and outings.  In return, families ask students to comply with family rules, which might include some minor tasks like washing the dishes or cleaning their bedrooms.

The host family is seen as responsible for the students' welfare and our partner office, Experiment e.V., insists on their role as 'parents.'  Host families come in all shapes and sizes: single parents with children living in the house, nuclear families, older couples whose children are no longer at home, as well as young couples who may not have children are all considered potential host families.  Our main criteria is a warm, caring, and comfortable home environment for students to be nurtured and thrive in.  Applicants cannot reject host family placements and must agree to accept them without prejudice and to go into the programme with an open mind.  There is never a dull moment- Irish students are doted on by their host families and are normally taken on trips with the family and are very active on the weekends. These sorts of trips and excursions are organised by the families themselves and are not included as part of the programme.

The German secondary school, either a 'Gymnasium' or 'Realschule,' is chosen by the local coordinator. It may even be the same school attended by host brothers or sisters, but that is not always the case. The student's academic record also plays a role in the choice of school, and the grade that he/she is placed in is also dependent on language skills. A student may be placed in a lower grade than their current equivalent in an Irish school. As education is the responsibility of each state in Germany, the schools are quite different and it is therefore very difficult to foresee the subjects offered by the schools. In general, German, English, a second foreign language, mathematics, biology, physics, chemistry, and history are the key subjects. Some options may include music, crafts, art, or sports. At the beginning of the term the school director will decide in which grade the student will be placed, generally 10th or 11th grade. All participants are required to comply with school rules, as far as the timetables, school attendance and behaviour are concerned.

In general, German schools allow a lot more freedom and expression than Irish schools do. This comes in the form of no uniforms, flexible class choices and scheduling. The responsibility level of German teenagers is also much higher than in Ireland. German students tend to be more independent at a younger age, so more responsibility is placed on them for making their own choices and being quite democratic. Students are welcome to partake in any and all sports and extracurricular activities that their school or community may offer.

Students will be collected by their host family from the nearest airport or railway station to the host community or any alternative one that is agreed upon by the host organisation and host family. Some students may not be able to take a direct flight from Ireland and may need to make a connection through another airport or take a train to their host community. Students will need to make this journey on their own and unassisted. Once a placement has been made, EIL will inform you of the specified airport or railway station and confirm the official dates of the programme. Most often, the best recommendation of how to arrive will come directly from the host family once you make contact with them. Flights and local transport to the agreed station or airport are not covered in programme fees and should be booked by the participant and parents.

Local and international transportation is not included in the programme fees. Students may need to get the bus to school and should ask their host families if they need to budget that into their spending while on the programme

Friends will not be placed together.  This is a programme designed for independent and individual students.  Emphasis is on full language and cultural immersion.  If friends apply together, they will be intentionally separated and placed in different communities and schools.

Students may not return home for the duration of their programme.  This includes Christmas and Easter holidays, and mid-term breaks.  All family visits must be limited to the end of the student's programme, not at the beginning or in the middle.  After years of experience, we find that such visits disrupt the adjustment process and can lead to further homesickness and integration problems.

Students and parents cannot reject a host family placement in favour of a new one.  Once host family details are sent to the student, they are final.  Cancellations will incur loss of deposit.

EIL and Experiment e.V reserve the right to send home any student whose health requires it or whose conduct is considered improper or offensive to the host family, community or school.  Such conduct includes drug use, unacceptable sexual behaviour, excessive drinking, violation of the law or failure in schoolwork.  In the event that the student is returned home, either alone or accompanied, parents or guardians are responsible for all expenses above those covered by the fee.  In such cases, no refunds will be available. If a student chooses to end the programme early on his or her own accord, for reasons including travelling home for a holiday or during mid-term, no refund will be given.

Further conditions of participation are included in the application forms.



  • Will I host a German student in return?

    No, this is a one-way exchange. You will not have to host a German student. Some Irish students remain friends with the host family and siblings and stay in contact, but there is no obligation to have them come to Ireland unless you make a personal arrangement amongst yourselves.

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  • What do the fees pay for?

    Administration costs for the hosting (Experiement e.V.) and sending organisations (EIL), interview, orientation materials, orientation in Germany (if student arrives on programme start dates), insurance with Caremed, support from a local coordinator and EIL Ireland and school enrolment fees. EIL and Experiment e.V. are both not-for-profit exchange organisations.

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  • Can you offer placements in specific types of schools, e.g. music focus, science focus, sports available, equestrian, etc?

    No. The student's interests and hobbies do come into account when finding a host family and school, but we cannot base a search for a family and school based on these type of factors alone. Both student and parents should see this programme as an opportunity to try something new and different.

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  • Can I go with a friend?

    No, students wishing to participate in this programme are accepted on the understanding that they do this independently. Friends can both apply for the programme, but if both are accepted, will be placed in different communities.

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  • Can I get a placement in a city, like Berlin?

    Possibly, but not likely. Students are rarely placed in urban locations. Students must be open to a placement anywhere in Germany, regardless of region. What is offered is a genuine German community and authentic exchange experience. This can be found throughout the country.

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  • How much money will I need in Germany?

    Participants have to bring their own spending money to cover private expenses. Usually we recommend a monthly allowance of about 200-250 euros.

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2017/2018 Academic School Year Prices

Call Gillian on 021-4551535 for more details. 


Full Year: 30th August 2017 - 15th July 2018

1st Semester: 30th August 2017 - 21st January 2018

2nd Semester: 7th February 2018 - 15th July 2018

2 and 3 month application dates flexible and accepted on a case-by-case basis


  • Applications for Autumn start programmes are due by 1st April 2017. 
  • Applications for January start programmes are due by 1st October 2017.

Late applications are considered on a case-by-case basis. Once German schools close for the summer, we cannot accept anymore Autumn applications.

8 and 12 week applications are due at least 4 months prior to the start month requested. Late applications are accepted, however we will charge a €250 late fee, and we cannot guarantee your programme start when you request. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis during the year. If you indicate on your application what duration and when you are available to begin your programme, we will try to find dates that suit.

To apply please fully complete this application form. The student portion should be completed by the student unaided, in German. All letters, photo captions, etc. are to be written in German.

€800/25% of programme fees is asked for as a deposit

Included in addition to filling in the forms as instructed:

  • Official school transcripts for the last 3 years
  • Medical record needs to be completed by your GP, not parents
  • Copy of your passport
  • 5 passport photos

Failure to include any application materials as well as incomplete applications will delay or inhibit your acceptance into the programme. Please make certain that all signatures are completed by student, parents, teachers, and physicians before sending to EIL.

Applications in full must be received at least 4 months in advance, or else you will be charged a €250 late fee.

Seanai's journal, living and going to school in Germany

Heading into my seventh week here with the finish line in sight I think at this stage I have seen what I came here to see and did what I wanted to do, I've gotten so much out of this experience that was truly once in a lifetime! I've seen Berlin,Hamburg,Bremen and Hannover, made so many new friends and over time have become very accustomed to the German way of life. I realise that if you are reading this you too are considering coming here to Germany for a period of time, and I hope I can guide you to the best of my ability!

Seanai's journal, living and going to school in Germany, 1st week settling in

I am very glad to report all is well here in Germany.

The first night was very tough it was late when I arrived in Bremen and met my host family, they are very nice and treat me very well, but I would not recommend arriving late at night as I found it hard when I got to their house we had to go to bed, it was late and I understood this but it was very lonesome in a strange room in a different country with a new family! I felt a small bit homesick the next day but not as much as I would have expected. I have settled in very well and do not feel at all homesick at present.