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YFU Blog - Recent stories about Youth for Understanding

Chris - Finland Exchange Student - Summer Program Alumnus

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Ready for a challenge, Chris traveled to Finland on exchange and learned one of the world’s most difficult languages, made new friends and experienced teenage life in a nation known for being shy and "silent in more than three languages." Here is what Chris wrote about his experience:

Looking back now, it is amazing to think about how my entire summer in Finland evolved and only then be able to see the beginnings of the countless things I have experienced and learned along the journey. Just months ago, I filled out the application for the FUSYE scholarship with an inclination that I wanted to go somewhere that I never thought I would go. When I found the opportunities for Finland I thought exactly what my friends and family would later say when I applied – “Finland!?? What is there?” That is how I knew that I had to learn about the country.

I had done some background research and that inspired me to truly understand what this nation has to offer. I was impressed with the staggering superlatives of the nation and intrigued by the idea of a lone nation with only 5.5 million people that could affect our world so much – yet also be so humble to go along with its hard work under the radar of the world’s superpowers. I felt the drive to find out how the nation worked and what made it achieve its exemplary statistics and high standard of living. I knew that living there was the only way I could satisfy my desire and curiosity to learn about the nation.

At my YFU interview, filled with questioning about my lifestyle in America and what I looked for in travelling overseas, I was confident in my idea that I wanted a challenge. That is why I wanted to go to Finland. I wanted to learn about this nation that I never knew much about and submerge myself in this foreign culture that I had little preparation for prior to departure.

I wanted to be actively learning amongst a people with a language I have never heard—despite warnings that it was one of the world’s most difficult languages due to its lack of linguistic relatives anywhere in the world. I wanted to prove it to myself that I could make many friends and experience and learn about teenage life in a nation that is stereotypically known for being extremely shy and "silent in more than three languages". I had my lists and I had mentally prepared myself to step out of this "comfort" zone and really put myself in a situation more foreign than I had ever imagined yet. My expectations for myself were high, and I was ready for the experience of a lifetime.

Check out Chris's blog to read more about his stay in Finland. And while you are at his blog, don't forget to read about Chris's summer in Japan.

Would you like to share your YFU Story? Please submit your stories and pictures!