Bosnia and Herzegovina

Study in BOSNIA and HERZEGOVINA with YES Abroad!

Bosnia and Herzegovina, often called Bosnia for short, is a country in Southeastern Europe on the Balkan Peninsula. Bordered by Croatia, Serbia, and Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina is nearly landlocked, except for a 16 mile stretch of coastline along the Adriatic Sea. The central and southern interior parts of the country are mountainous, while the northwest of the country is moderately hilly, and the northeast is predominantly flatland. The majority of the country has a moderate continental climate, with hot summers and cold, snowy winters.

YES Abroad students in Bosnia and Herzegovina will spend their academic year in either Sarajevo or Banja Luka. With a population of approximately 300,000 people, Sarajevo is the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the largest city in the country. Often called the "Jerusalem of Europe" or the "Jerusalem of the Balkans," Sarajevo is famous for its tradition of religious diversity. Adherents of Islam, Orthodox Christianity, Catholicism, and Judaism have coexisted here for centuries.

Banja Luka is the administrative and cultural center of Republic of Srpska, one of the two states of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the second biggest city in the country, with a population of approximately 250,000. Known for its greenery, Banja Luka is a peaceful city, surrounded by rolling hills and situated on the river Vrbas.

Both host communities are considered urban, and while many host families own a car, the most common forms of transportation include buses, trams, taxis, and walking. Participants may commute anywhere between 10 and 60 minutes each way by public transportation to their host schools or American Councils’ office.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is home to three major ethnic groups or so-called "constituent peoples," a term unique to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosniaks (Muslim) are the largest group of the three, with Serbs (Orthodox Christian) second, and Croats (Catholic) third. However, traditional religious identifications do not always match up with current religious practices, and citizens are increasingly separating their ethnic identity from their religious beliefs. Regardless of ethnicity, a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina is usually referred to in English as Bosnian.

Learn more about being a YES Abroad student in Bosnia and Herzegovina:

Host Family

Students will live with host families in order to experience true immersion in the local culture. Families are selected based on recommendations by members of the local community, and each family is carefully screened by American Councils staff. Families are carefully vetted through a thorough application process and are highly regarded by their relatives and neighbors. Hosting communities exist through the presence of a strong support network, with a local staff member, or "local coordinator" available to each student hosted in the community.

Your High School

Students may be placed in a public high school, private high school, or private program within a public high school in both Banja Luka and Sarajevo. The primary language of instruction will be either Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian (for gap year students) or English and Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian (for non-gap year students). School typically runs Monday to Friday, and schedules may vary from week to week depending on the school.  Classes start as early as 8 a.m. or run until 7 p.m. depending on the day. Uniforms are not customary. While there are no official extramural or extracurricular activities at the school, non-gap year host schools usually have a Creativity, Action, and Service (CAS) requirement that provides opportunities for students to participate in activities organized by the school, and there are plenty of activities to explore outside of school.

The Political & Security Environment

The U.S. enjoys good relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is an active member in organizations such as the UN, WHO, ICC and ILO.

For more information, visit the CIA World Factbook 

Health & Safety

With a presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina since 2002, American Councils is able to draw on strong local connections for a deep understanding of the intercultural, health, safety, and security issues. Prior to departure and upon arrival, students attend a number of information and safety briefings by American Councils staff. They will also have a security briefing by the U.S. Embassy's Security Office and will be given assistance in registering with the Embassy to receive travel alerts. American Councils works closely before arrival and throughout the exchange year to discuss and prepare for students' well-being. YES Abroad students are covered by medical as well as Political and Security Evacuation benefits. Students will have access to a 24-hour emergency number, and our staff members are thoroughly trained.  Each student will be given a cell phone upon arriving and will be given the contact number for their local support representative and their local American Councils-Bosnia and Herzegovina office. In the case of an emergency, a Duty Officer is on-call 24/7 in both Bosnia and Herzegovina and the U.S. This number is made available to both students and their parents while on program. For further information on Bosnia and Herzegovina, visit the U.S. Department of State's website.

Enrichment Activities

Students will have the opportunity to explore their host country and take part in various activities to increase their interaction with local peers in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Activities may include field trips, sporting events, cultural excursions, social outings, and community service projects. Examples of previous enrichment activities include: 

•   Meeting with the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy;

•   Exploring host cities;

•   Trips to various cities and towns, including Mostar, Tuzla,Travnik, Pocitelj, and Trebinje;

•   Cultural events with Bosnian YES alumni who studied in the United States; and

•   Community service activities, such as volunteering at local animal shelters, participating in clothes and food drives, clean-up campaigns, and helping organizations that work with children with disabilities or orphanages. Participation in volunteering activities in honor of Global Youth Service Day has also been a tradition with YES Abroad students in Bosnia since the launch of the program in 2012.