Alumni Portal for Study Abroad Students
Alumni Portal for Study Abroad Students
No matter how long you have spent abroad immersed in a different culture, there is no better feeling than coming back home and seeing your family. Unfortunately, it may take longer than you expected to adjust back to life in the United States, and accompanying this process may be feelings of frustration and anxiety. We want you to know that you're not alone when it comes to adjusting back to your original routine. We want to assist you in every way possible by providing resources to ease your way back into the American culture. In addition to the resources found below, we encourage you to review this document for further suggestions on activities to do once you return home!
Reverse Culture Shock
Reverse culture shock is a common reaction to returning home from studying abroad. It's an emotional and psychological stage of re-adjustment, similar to your initial adjustment to living abroad. Feelings of loneliness and frustration are common. You may feel homesick about your host country, or like a stranger in your own home. While dealing with these feelings, it's important that you create an outlet for your emotions rather than keeping them to yourself. Try leaning on close friends and family who will be happy to support you with open arms.
Try a blog!
One of the best ways to sort out your feelings during this time of transition is to write about it! Whether through an email chain to friends and family or an online blog, expressing yourself and telling your story can be liberating. To get ideas for blog posts, try reading through your travel journals or looking through your pictures. Relive your experiences and inspire others to become more globally open-minded—take advantage of this opportunity! Send your blog URL to email@example.com to be featured on our site!
School or Community Presentation
By doing school and community presentations, you have the ability to show others how going abroad with YFU can change their lives! Remember, if you are a scholarship recipient, you are required to do a presentation. Please reach out to Director of Philanthropy Rebecca Rorke if you have any questions on this requirement.
This school presentation template was created by a YFU alum for your use! Click 'File' and 'Make a Copy' to use the template for your presentation. You are also encouraged to create your own PowerPoint and/or video to present. If you need any help in preparing or conducting your presentation, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once your presentation is complete, be sure to fill out the Presentation Form.
The "Real World"—What Comes Next?
Eventually, you will begin to feel comfortable back in the United States, but it may never feel the way it used to. You’ve now gained vital experiences and knowledge that have helped you develop into a globally-minded human being. As you incorporate your host culture into your daily life, your perspective between your host country and your home in the United States will become balanced and you will forever be a changed person.
Stay Connected with YFU USA!
YFU Leadership opportunities
As experts of the YFU exchange experience, study abroad alumni are the perfect YFU leaders and volunteers! See below for the various leadership opportunities YFU currently offers to its alumni.
YFU will be rolling out an Alumni Program in Fall 2019 – keep an eye out for this announcement shortly!
Intern with YFU
You've already experienced the program. Now, you can learn what YFU does behind-the-scenes! YFU USA interns have the opportunity to learn more about international service, cross-cultural communications, community outreach, and more. YFU interns are directly integrated into organizational operations and serve a crucial role in interacting with students, host families, and a network of dedicated volunteers across the country.
YFU welcomes students with excellent verbal and written communication skills from both for-credit and not-for-credit programs. Interns should be proficient with Internet and Microsoft Office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook). YFU alumni are strongly encouraged to apply.
Instructions to apply for a YFU internship can be found here.
Volunteer with YFU
Would you be interested in interviewing prospective study abroad students, reviewing their scholarship applications, or assisting with orientations local to your area? Check out these volunteer opportunities and more on YFU’s Volunteer webpage!
Additionally, if you are a summer Japan exchange alumnus, we welcome you to apply for a leadership position at the yearly Japan Pre-Departure Orientation (JPDO). If you are a semester or yearlong exchange alumnus, we welcome you to apply for a leadership position at the yearly National Pre-Departure Orientation (NPDO). More information and applications for the JPDO and NPDO positions open early each spring.
The College Search
Thinking about what to do after high school can be a daunting task—we’ll be the first to admit that! But as a YFU exchange alumni, you are in the top tier of high school students when applying for college. YFU is here to help you sort through your options so you can make an educated, informed decision about your future. Explore the abundant options your future can hold!
Have you ever thought about taking a gap year to explore the possibilities the world has to offer? Though the idea of “taking a year off” might seem scary and out of the norm, participating in a gap year program is a great way to pursue your passions, expand your knowledge, and discover yourself! More than 80% of students that choose to take a gap year before college believe this experienced added to their employability after college graduation. YFU USA offers several different gap year programs. You can read about them here! All YFU gap year programs include placement with a carefully selected host family, student support, and orientation support.
The Right College for You
Searching for a college can be overwhelming. You will want to look at the data on admission rates and programs of study and should reflect on what you want to study further. Believe it or not, this process can be fun! Follow the guide below to “ace” the college search.
Familiarize yourself with your wants & needs
Challenge yourself with these questions. This will help you understand your wants and needs prior to looking at specific colleges and universities.
Where do I want to attend college—how far do I want to be from home?
What kind of environment do I want to live in—traditional college campus, urban city, or somewhere in between?
What size of school will I feel comfortable calling my home—one with a large student body or one with a more small-knit community?
What do I want to study—specifically OR generally?
Does this college offer courses on the language I would like to study?
Will I want to study abroad during my college career—if so, where?
Do I know what level of education I need to be successful in my chosen profession? Can the college/university provide a full education or will I need to go to graduate school?
College Visits & Applications
Visiting a college can make a world of difference when it comes to making your final decision. Most colleges provide campus tour information on their websites. Simply visit their admissions site and register for a time to tour the school. Additionally, the act of physically applying for college can be overwhelming as well. How do you portray your best attributes and accomplishments to an admissions officer who only has the chance to get to know you through writing? Luckily, over 74% of YFU students report having an advantage on college applications after their experience abroad!
Thinking about discussing your YFU exchange experience in your college essay? See below for a few tips on how to purposefully share your YFU story.
Step 1: Personal Reflection
It’s important to think about how this whole experience started in the first place. Ask yourself the following questions, and jot down some ideas.
What made you want to study abroad in high school? Think about how you prepared for this experience and what your expectations were. How were your expectations met or not met? What goals did you set for yourself before you traveled abroad? How did you achieve those goals? Did those goals change over the course of your travels?
Step 2: Personal Development
Studying abroad is a unique experience for everyone. Think about how you may have changed or stayed firm in your beliefs through this process.
How were you able to adjust to other cultures? How did you adjust to your home abroad, as well as your return to the United States? What personal mechanisms did you use? How did you overcome challenges, and how did they strengthen your leadership skills?
Step 3: Tie it all together!
Once you have brainstormed how the experience impacted you, it is important that you connect this experience to your future experiences.
Did this opportunity help you discover a new passion? Consider new ideas for a future career path? Prepare you to be a successful student or employee? What can you contribute to your college/university of choice because of your time abroad?
Scholarship Search Engines
Make sure you put the same effort forward for scholarships as you did for the college itself! There are a variety of scholarships available for students based on their grades, studies, study abroad country, and diversity.
College Board: As the organization behind the SAT and AP exams, College Board upholds high standards for the scholarships they allow on their site. This site is especially helpful because the scholarships apply to a broad area of interest and application rather than institution-specific scholarships.
Building Your Resume & Career
Employers are always searching for people who embody intercultural awareness and understand the increasing diversity of our world. You learned essential innovative skills during your time abroad that will help you stand out in a pool of applicants. Be sure to mention these when job seeking!
Building Your Resume
Your YFU program can be highlighted in different sections of your resume (Education, Experience, Skills & Activities) depending on the focus of your program.
Did you volunteer during your time abroad?
Learn a new language?
Receive a scholarship?
Be sure to mention these specific highlights or skills gained during your YFU exchange experience in your resume.
Building Your Cover Letter
If a job or volunteer position asks you to write a cover letter, this is the perfect opportunity to elaborate on your experience abroad. Depending on your experience and the skills gained during your YFU experience, you may want to highlight increased:
• Language proficiency/fluency
• Cross-cultural communication
• Realistic Expectations
• Open Mindedness
• Sense of self
• Tolerance for differences
Where Could You Work?
If you are interested in working at similar organizations like YFU, there are a multitude of career opportunities in the field of international education.
Intern or Work for YFU USA: YFU USA has offices located in Washington, DC and Saginaw, Michigan. We also have field staff based all around the country. All open staff positions are posted on our Career Page. Additionally, YFU welcomes alumni to apply to participate in a YFU internship. This is a perfect introduction for current college or graduate students looking for more experience in international education and international programs. See here for more information.
Other Job Opportunities in International Education:
Teaching English Abroad
A great way to combine work and travel abroad is to become an overseas English teacher. Becoming qualified to teach English as a Foreign or Second Language can provide lasting and supportive assistance for landing this type of job in the future.
The most popular programs include TEFL, TESOL, and CELTA. Most of these programs are an intense, month-long course taught in various countries overseas. Many provide support for accommodations as well as the job search afterwards. To read further about becoming TEFL-certified, check out this article on Go Overseas.
Career Case Study: Jordan, Summer Brazil Program 2008
Using the tips and recommendations offered by YFU, Jordan continued her exchange experience by pursuing educational and professional interests outside of the US.
Jordan’s Path of Studies:
Received a Bachelor of Arts in Biology with Minors in International Health Studies and Comparative Religious Studies.
Applied for and received a David L. Boren National Security Education Program Scholarship to fund a year of study (Portuguese language and global public health) in Brazil.
Received a Master of Public Health in Global Epidemiology with a certificate in Socio-contextual Determinants of Health.
Spent a summer practicum working at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ) in Brazil on a study about parental acceptance of the HPV vaccine.
Jordan’s Career Experiences:
Global Health Fellows Program II
Masters-level intern with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
Worked on the malaria case management team within the Bureau for Global Health in support of the President’s Malaria Initiative
Currently working in Angola to support the USAID Mission’s malaria program
Jordan’s Career Tips:
“Make it a priority to search for study abroad funding opportunities for college.”
“Seek out researchers working in different parts of the world to collaborate with during graduate school.”
“Highlight your previous cultural and language experiences when applying for jobs!”