Guest post from YFU Alumna, Terry Anzur.
My 1970 summer exchange did not require going to school but I learned a lot. I wanted to improve my French but all places in France were taken and I accepted Switzerland, thinking I'd be sent to Geneva. I ended up mostly speaking English and picking up a little Switzer-Deutsch in Bern, where my host family owned a fruit and chocolate concession in the train station. They also had homes and stores in the ski area of Wengen and the lakeside town of Ticino.
I felt such freedom riding around on Mopeds with my Swiss sister and her friends. We also took a train trip to Milan and Verona in Italy and camped out at a youth festival in France. I ate fondue and raclette, learned to make cheese pie and swam in the freezing Aare River.
My Swiss friends loved rock and roll but didn't always quite get the lyrics. We had some laughs over the words to the Beatles' "White Album" and I had to explain that Jimi Hendrix's "Crosstown Traffic" wasn't really about driving a car.
YFU was the beginning of my lifelong love of travel, which continued at Stanford-in-France and in my career as a journalist and international media trainer. Except for my dad's service in World War II, I was the first person in my family to travel overseas since our ancestors came from Europe. The YFU experience literally changed the direction of my life because I was able to experience possibilities beyond the boundaries of my home country, community, and upbringing.