Become fully immersed in American culture on the Classic High School Program with Southern Cross Cultural Exchange. USA is a large country with diverse climates and culture, you experience will depend on where you live.
You can submit a request to study in a specific city, state, or region, but as places are limited, Southern Cross Cultural Exchange cannot guarantee a match. Apply early to avoid disappointment. If you are successfully placed in your preferred destination, you will be charged an additional fee.
No matter where you go on exchange, you’ll have an unforgettable adventure and a well-supported academic experience. We highly recommend adding one of these choices to make sure you have the exchange you are looking for.
Age of students: 14–17 years
Departure: July, August, September, or January (subject to High School start date)
Soft Landing Camp: Yes, optional in New York for an additional fee
School day: Normally 7:30 to 14:30
Subjects: Compulsory and electives
The United States comprises 50 states, the nation’s capital Washington DC (a federal district), and five major territories. They all have something to offer in terms of history, climate, and culture. Check out these brief descriptions to find a state that offers what you’re looking for. Remember that better-known states like California and Florida are popular. To secure your spot, please apply early.
Arizona is a southwestern state with a rich and varied climate. Southern Arizona has a desert climate, with some of the highest summertime temperatures in the country. You’ll find mountains in the North, so expect snowy winters (one reason Arizona is popular with skiers and snowboarders). You’ll also find the Grand Canyon in Arizona. For nature lovers, it’s a playground that offers endless adventures. Phoenix and Tuscon are the state’s largest cities, but many smaller towns can provide urban living within close reach of the state’s dynamic wilderness.
California is a massive state on the west coast of America. There are cities you’ll know from film and TV or read about in books. Fantastic destinations are spread right across the state, so explore the many cities and towns offering a California lifestyle. If you’re set on going to a specific Californian city, choose Select High School for your exchange program to really experience that all American high school experience.
Nature lovers, skiers, and snowboarders will love Colorado, which sits in the heart of America. Most of Colorado’s population resides in lively, friendly cities like Denver, Aspen, and Colorado Springs. From these places, it’s easy to access the many national and state parks in Colorado for hiking, camping, and, in winter, skiing and snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains.
Known as the Sunshine State, Florida welcomes 60 million visitors each year. It’s obvious why when you see the beaches! But Florida is also a popular place to live, with the third-highest population in the country. Making friends will be easy, especially in large cities like Tallahassee, Jacksonville, and Miami. Expect a mix of cultures and cuisines, iconic sights, and ocean-side fun in the sun with new pals.
Georgia has it all. The gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains in the north and charming beaches along the Atlantic coast make it a destination for nature lovers. It’s a state packed with history. Georgia played a central role in the American Civil War and the American civil rights movement led by Georgia-born Martin Luther King Jr., a figure revered worldwide for his peaceful fight for racial equality. Georgia has thriving cities, including the state capital, Atlanta. Now a hub for film, television, and music, it draws people from across America and internationally.
Illinois sits in America’s heartland. You’ll find rich agricultural and industrial landscapes in the south and thriving cities in the north. Chief among them is Chicago, the country’s fifth-largest city. This dynamic, multi-cultural centre packs in world-class sports and music venues, theatres, parks, museums, and more to keep your finger on the pulse of American culture. With strong transportation networks, it’s possible to enjoy what Chicago offers while living in one of the many neighbouring cities and suburbs.
Indiana offers an all-American experience. It is a midwestern state rich in agricultural farmland and charming towns where close-knit communities enjoy life outdoors in a four-season climate. Indiana played a vital role in the westward expansion of white settlers and the country’s indigenous peoples. The state is now home to industrious cities like Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, and Evansville, plus smaller towns where you can find yourself living the classic American high schooler lifestyle.
Michigan is nestled between two of the Great Lakes on the country’s northern border with Canada. For students taking an Academic Year program, the four-season climate means you will start school in the warm sun of late summer before the spectacular colors of autumn arrive. Then it is a winter of snow-filled fun before a vibrant spring takes you through to the start of early summer when you can head to some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. Once the heart of America’s automotive industry, Michigan is a diverse mix of sprawling cities and suburbs, quaint towns and fishing villages, rich farmland, and orchards.
Minnesotans are renowned for being friendly and courteous (their reputation is known as ‘Minnesota nice’). This northern state offers endless outdoor adventure, with over 10,000 lakes, miles of forest, and the mighty Mississippi River (which starts in Minnesota). It is also a creative hub with a long history of public funding for the arts and music. The state’s indigenous population enriches this cultural landscape, as do the many global immigrant communities that have made Minnesota their home. Outside of the large urban centres like Minneapolis and Saint Paul, smaller cities like Duluth, Saint Cloud, and Bemidji will deliver a truly immersive experience.
You might have heard of Nevada, but you will know about Las Vegas. Aside from gambling and entertainment, this southwestern state is home to genuinely wonderous natural landscapes. You can visit the Mojave Desert and Death Valley, wrestle the rapids of various riverways, hike in dense forests, and snowboard at popular mountain resorts. Nevada is a large state with a mix of resort towns like Las Vegas, Reno, and Lake Tahoe, plus smaller towns where you can access the iconic landscapes that defined the Wild West.
North Carolina is a charming southern state with a diverse natural landscape. To the east lies a beautiful Atlantic coastline. To the west, the lush Appalachian Mountains. The state has a complex history. It was home to large communities of indigenous peoples displaced when Europeans colonized the country. Later, it was a hotspot in the American Revolutionary War and later the Civil War. This wealthy state is now home to thriving cities, including Charlotte, Raleigh, and many others, offering a taste of ‘southern charm.
Study in Ohio for the typical American high school experience. Once known for heavy industries like steel production, Ohio is now driving innovation in renewable energy. Most large cities like Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati have matured into business hubs, though the state is still a manufacturing centre. A legacy of the state’s industrial past is the outstanding cultural institutions across the state. Look forward to visiting world-class museums, libraries, music venues, and more. And because Ohio borders five other states, it is the perfect base from which to explore more of the country.
Oklahoma is in the south of the country, north of Texas. Study here to experience life in ‘cowboy country.’ But while Oklahoma has been home to cattle ranchers for more than a century, it is also home to a thriving Native American population with 25 indigenous languages spoken in Oklahoma. Most of the state’s population lives in or near Oklahoma City and Tulsa, the state’s biggest cities. But there are rural communities that can also immerse you in this beautiful state’s wild landscapes and rich history.
The western state of Oregon has miles of wild and rugged Pacific coastline, but the state’s beautiful beaches are just the beginning of what Oregon has to offer. Oregon’s interior is full of dense forests, perfect for hiking and camping. Productive wine vineyards and high deserts make fun destinations, too. And there is even an active volcano, Mount Hood. Look for small towns and cities that can be your gateway to nature or opt for one of the characterful cities like Portland, Beaverton (home to the global shoe brand Nike), and Eugene.
South Carolina is a cultural gem. One of the original 13 colonies and the first state to leave the Union, a process that led to the Civil War, South Carolina has played a significant role in the country’s history. South Carolina is now a thriving economic hub, a beautiful, sunny, and fascinating destination. The natural landscape is ideal for weekend fun, with an Atlantic coastline to the east and the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west. And in every town, a big slice of American history!
Tennessee shares borders with several states and nearly all the southern states. It has gorgeous mountains – including the Smokey Mountains – and gentler, rolling terrain cut through with large rivers. While the state has many historical landmarks, including major Civil War battle sites, it’s best known as the home of Nashville, the country’s music capital. Not far away from Nashville, you can find the birthplace of musical icons like Elvis Presley and Dolly Parton. Tennessee is a destination rich in culture, history, and wilderness.
Texas is a vast state, but its location on the southern edge of the country and frontier history means it’s also hugely diverse. You will mostly hear Texan English, but you will hear Spanish, Creole, Chinese, and many other languages. Like the people, the landscape varies east to west and north to south. Yes, there are ranches and rodeos, but there is a coastline and mountains worth exploring, too. Big cities like Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin will catch your attention. Still, smaller cities and towns can also immerse you in the Texan way of life, which is unlike anything else in America.
The historic state of Virginia is one of the country’s most beautiful mountainous regions. You will have somewhere to go every weekend, including hiking trails through the Appalachian Mountains, beautiful Atlantic beaches, and some of the country’s oldest historical sites. You are also an easy train ride away from major cultural hotspots like Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City.
Washington is in the Pacific Northwest and shares a border with Canada. You might hear it called ‘Washington state’ to distinguish it from Washington D.C. (which is not technically a state). The state has 2500-miles of coastline, endless forests, picturesque mountains, and fruit-filled orchards. While it is rainier than other regions, summers are warm, and winters are mild, making it a destination for hiking, camping, surfing, and skiing. Seattle is the best-known city, but many towns and cities can offer you a gateway to everything Washington has to offer the curious adventurer.
Even though Wisconsin is in the middle of the country, its long coastline along the Great Lakes makes it a worthwhile destination for people across the region. The state’s interior is rolling green pastures, fast-flowing rivers, and lush forests teeming with natural wildlife. The state’s four-seasons climate means that in winter, the green gives way to white as the snow settles until spring. Like its neighbour, Minnesota, the people are known for being welcoming. They are also sports-mad, with professional and university-level sports dominating the public conversation.
Maybe a couple of states sound appealing, or perhaps you feel overwhelmed by the possibilities. Choose a destination by region instead. It lets you pick the backdrop for your exchange year without the pressure of putting a pin on the map. Here are regions popular with exchange students. To secure your spot, apply early.
The Central Region takes you to the heart of America. You could be placed in Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, North Dakota, or South Dakota.
The East Region is a doorway to America’s complex and fascinating history and the cities shaping its future. You could be placed in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, or North Carolina.
The Great Lakes Region is a springboard to outdoor fun and major cities alive with culture, music, and more. You could be placed in Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, or Ohio.
Opt for Mountain States if you love nature and outdoor fun, especially winter sports. You could be placed in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, or Alaska.
Choose the North East and live the American high school dream every season of the year in a beautiful natural landscape. You could be placed in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, or Minnesota.
The Pacific Coast is a lifestyle choice for anyone who wants memorable adventures in nature and world-class cities. You could be placed in California, Oregon, or Washington.
Choose Sunshine States to enjoy an exchange year under big bright skies outdoors. You could be placed in Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, or North Carolina.
No one can resist southern charm. Find out why by opting for the South East. You could be placed in Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Delaware, or Maryland.
Choose the South West and find yourself in an iconic landscape that defines outdoor adventure. You could be placed in Arizona, Nevada or New Mexico.
Adventure-seekers have only one option – the West Region. You could be placed in California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, or Hawaii.
Some people are just made for city living. Guarantee a placement in a city with at least 50,000 residents by adding the City Guarantee to your student exchange application. It will not decide which city you will go to, but it can ensure an urban destination.
American cities can be vibrant, diverse, and inspiring places to study. And living in a city adds another dimension to your exchange, as you are exposed to more people, places, and ideas. If you picture yourself in a city or think it might be a good option, use these descriptions to learn about the cities you can choose with Southern Cross Cultural Exchange. In addition to the cities below you can also request to study in Chicago, Columbus, Hillsboro, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City or Tri Cities.
Atlanta is Georgia’s capital and the state’s most populous city. While the city has about half a million people, the Atlanta area has over 6 million residents. It’s a massive business hub with some of the country’s biggest brands headquartered there. Atlanta is also home to major American broadcasters, including CNN, and major film and television studios. Atlanta is hot on music, theatre, and dance, too. It hosts more festivals than any other American city. While Atlanta is a southern city, it draws people worldwide, making it feel genuinely cosmopolitan.
California is a vast state with hugely varied climates and cultures. Land yourself in a vibrant, urban destination near the state’s iconic beaches. With this option, you could spend your exchange in the San Francisco Bay Area (a large area around San Francisco and the San Francisco Bay). You might also study in Silicon Valley, the centre of gravity for technological innovation. It’s home to brands you will know well, including Apple, Facebook, and Netflix. Your destination might also be in the state’s southern counties, where you will find exciting cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, San Bernadino, and more.
The Texan city of College Station sits at the heart of the Texas Triangle—a large urban region where more than half the population lives. This position puts you within touching distance of the state’s largest cities without the cost and pressure of big city life. But College Station isn’t lacking in energy. It is home to Texas A&M, the flagship university for the state system. This infuses the city with youthful energy and a constant influx of visitors abroad. Expect easy transport, beautiful outdoor spaces, and a laid-back Texan lifestyle.
Columbia is the vibrant capital of South Carolina. Around 200,000 residents are drawn to the city’s strong business sector, a lively university campus, and the local US Army base. The city sits at the meeting point of two large rivers, and this is now the focal point for a newly revitalised historic town centre. Look for stunning original and reconstructed buildings, green spaces, and monuments that bring the city’s fascinating past to life. Check out the top-ranked zoo and outstanding galleries and museums, too.
Corpus Christi sits on the southern coast of Texas, with almost half a million residents in the metropolitan area. The idyllic setting is made even more stunning by the enormous flocks of wild birds (the city is known as the bird capital of America). Winters are extremely mild, with most of the year offering ideal temperatures for outdoor sports and activities in the diverse natural landscapes and glittering subtropical waters in and around Corpus Christi.
With almost 1.5 million residents, Dallas is the large American city you know from movies and TV. It is a fast-moving place that draws people from all over the world. Now the state’s business capital, the city is made wealthy from the large defence, communications, and technology firms that headquarter there. Despite the realities of urban life, Dallas is distinctly Texan.
Fort Collins is a fast-growing city in northern Colorado. As it is close to Denver, you can benefit from what that big urban center offers while living in a more low-key place. It also gives you easy access to adventure because Fort Collins sits in the foothills at the base of the Rocky Mountains. Winters can be intense but rich in opportunities to ski, snowboard, and hang out with new friends in cozy cabins. With a university and college in town, Fort Collins has a youthful vibe, which explains the many festivals spread throughout the year and busy arts venues.
Grand Rapids is one of the fastest-growing cities in the region, drawing businesses, investors, artists, and students from around America and abroad. Located near Lake Michigan, city residents work and study hard while enjoying the natural beauty found everywhere in the state. With several universities in town, it’s little wonder that the nightlife is lively, museums and galleries are packed, and sports are a big part of everyday life. The warmth of the people and the buzz of Grand Rapids has made it a popular destination for exchange students.
Houston is a big, sprawling city with a diverse population drawn to the city’s long-standing energy and technology sectors, universities and colleges, and its busy port. Now, it’s attracting entrepreneurs and investors in renewal energy innovations. But Houston isn’t all about business (it is a Texan city, after all). So, look forward to lots of public events, festivals, concerts, and sports games. Do not miss Houston Livestock and Show and Rodeo (also known as RodeoHouston), the biggest rodeo in the world and a major music event (Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, and Ariana Grande have all performed in recent years).
Milwaukee is the largest city in the state of Wisconsin and home to more than half a million people. It is perched on the edge of Lake Michigan, offering a skyline of old industrial buildings of the revitalized downtown. Like other Wisconsin cities, this one is sports-mad, so look forward to attending lots of professional, semi-professional, and university-level teams during your exchange.
Oklahoma City is the capital of Oklahoma, a western state with a prominent place in American history. With more than half a million residents, it offers the buzz of a big city, but with the laid-back vibe you would expect in cowboy country. Look out for farmer’s markets, public events and festivals, and opportunities to learn about the state’s fascinating role in the country’s past.
Portland is Oregon’s largest city, with over half a million residents. It is well-known for its hipster culture, although it is not exclusive. Instead, the city has a friendly small-town feel. Expect to spend time in the many coffee shops, cafés, and open spaces. There are pop-up arts and crafts markets and farmer’s markets, too. And with the Pacific coast so close, you can expect to spend weekends walking rugged beaches, hiking gorgeous mountain trails, and exploring charming coastal towns.
Texas is full of big cities, and San Antonio is no exception. It is the seventh most populous state in the country. After 20 years of growth, the city is still expanding. Fortune 500 companies, several US Airforce bases, multiple universities, banks, and major healthcare providers have helped the city develop. Now, it is a draw for tourists from around the world. Its rich Hispanic culture will offer an unusual dimension for international students, as will the city’s indigenous and military history.
Seattle sits on the far western edge of America in Washington state. It is the largest city in the state and the Pacific Northwest region, with just over 700,000 residents. But the wider Seattle metropolitan area is home to more than 4 million people! That accounts for the workforce drawn to the companies headquartered in the city, including Amazon, Expedia, Microsoft, and Starbucks. Despite being a business hub, the city is easy to navigate, friendly, and a reliable springboard to the natural wonders that make Washington state special.
Spokane sits in the far north of Washington state and near the Canadian border. Like so much of this region, the city is green and lush. The legacy of its success in mining and farming is a charming downtown full of historical buildings in different architectural styles. The state’s second-largest city, Spokane is home to several arts venues, museums, and festivals that will keep you entertained throughout the year. And, of course, give you a launchpad into the stunning natural beauty that Washington is known for.
St. Louis is a delightful city at the meeting point of two major rivers, the Missouri River, and the Mississippi River. With over 300,000 residents, the city has a distinctive skyline funded by the many Fortune 500 companies headquartered there. The town center is dotted with easy-to-access parks and gardens, arts venues and museums, and other major attractions. This is partly why the city attracts thousands of students to its many universities and colleges. With a long history and a constant influx of professionals and students, the city feels lively, modern, and fun.
Traverse City is not a large city, but it packs a punch with several arts festivals that draw people from all over the country. The annual National Cherry Festival is popular, too. It is an old-fashioned celebration of a precious and beloved crop that has shaped the landscape for generations. Situated in the far north of Michigan, its remoteness adds to the special feeling you get walking along its sandy beaches, rich forests, and the charming streets of the city centre.