Congratulations on your child's selection to participate in a student exchange! YFU programs are for a select group of students who are ready to embark on a journey not just of distance and geography, but of culture and self-transformation. We are excited for you all, as you prepare for this new adventure together. This blog is here as a resource for you, providing you with:
A sense of membership in the YFU community;
An awareness of how to support your child and your family at home (during periods of adjustment) throughout the course of the exchange;
Scenarios that parents have faced in the past, and how to handle potentially challenging situations;
An awareness of culture shock and its various stages;
An understanding of how your actions can influence your child’s experience, through communication, visits, reactions to their stress and challenges;
Support and resources during this period of preparation;
Tips on packing, budgeting, gift giving, and more.
For the next 10 weeks before the National Pre-Departure Orientation, we will be sharing information on a variety of topics related to the exchange experience from the parent perspective. If there are specific topics that you'd like us to cover, please let us know by leaving a comment below.
This coming semester or year will be an experiential learning journey for your teenager, their soon to be host family and your own family. And the learning begins right now!
All of your family members, including your teenager, will go through a range of emotions - excitement, concern, distress at being separated from family. You can help make your child's international exchange experience more successful, though.
The first step is to develop realistic expectations, especially when it comes to the host family and host community and your child’s ability to adjust. YFU host families range from couples without children to single parents with children, from families with teenagers or young children or a combination. Host communities also come in all sizes, from small towns to cities, to country living. Even though your teenager may have a preference on their type of host family/community, it is important to be open and accepting of whomever the host family turns out to be.
“When my daughter received her host family information, there was both a sense of relief and many questions. As the youngest child in our family, she would now be the big sister to 7 and 8 year old girls. […] Instead of focusing on the fact that there were no teenagers in her host family, we focused on the positive: how she would get to be the cool older sister. And this turned out to be true!” – Jean Pierce, Cary, IL
One of the common challenges, exchange students face is coping with the difference between the expectations they have developed and what the experience turns out to be. While it is natural, for teenagers, and even families, to develop expectations of the home that they will soon be living in, their new community, new friends, etc., it is important to resist idealizing the experience.
These communications are designed for your learning opportunity and we hope to hear from you! You can start right now by leaving a comment with your answer to the following question:
What resources have you and your teenager found helpful in preparing for their exchange experience?
Have specific questions regarding logistical information (travel, visas, tuition, health insurance, etc.) please contact your Admissions Counselor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1.800.TEENAGE.