Ask a YFU Alumni
If you're excited about our program and have a lot of questions, talk to one of our alumni directly via email. Get answers to all your doubts and be ready as the adventure awaits.
If you would like to learn about the experiences of YFU students, please e-mail your questions to any of these YFU Alumni. They have all participated in a YFU program and would be glad to share their YFU experience with you. When sending an e-mail, please include:
- YFU in the subject line
- Your name, age, and city/state
- Country, length, and year of program that you are interested in
If you have questions regarding specific program components, admissions, tuition and scholarships, or other program-specific information, please e-mail our admissions office. You may also talk to an admissions counselor by calling toll-free 1.800.TEENAGE (1.800.833.6243).
My junior year of high school I packed my bags and left for ten months in Verona, Italy. I lived in a beautiful classic Italian town of two thousand people among the vineyards and commuted every day into the city for school. My days were filled with exploring cathedrals, ancient roman ruins and falling in love each day more and more with my new home. Living in the countryside I also had time to hike and explore the rolling hills draped with vineyard after vineyard. My host family became an extension of my natural family and I formed countless other relationships with the people I met both in school and on the street. Sometimes it was a challenge, but by the end, I didn’t want to go home. There was a moment before boarding my plane in which I contemplated running off, hopping on a train and disappearing into the wind. I knew exactly which bus to catch, which train to take and how to assimilate wherever I ended up. Studying abroad gave me this knowledge and much more. I learned to be independent and to take risks, not to mention a second language. To say the least, this experience was life changing and I will never forget my time abroad.
Though it was short, my time spent in Okinawa, Japan through Youth For Understanding was transformational. I formed bonds with all sorts of people, experienced an assortment of new things, and ultimately learned that communication and understanding goes beyond words. To be an exchange student is an inimitable experience I encourage everyone to participate in. Youth For Understanding was an outstanding organization with a well planned, supportive, and high quality exchange. I went into the exchange with a strong passion for Okinawa and left with a passion even stronger. Please know you are more than welcome to email me any questions.
During the summer before my sophomore year, I was fortunate to spend six weeks studying abroad in Yokohama, Japan. I owe this great experience to YFU. Throughout my life-changing exchange, I formed countless bonds with both my family members and school friends, became immersed and fell in love with Japan’s vast culture, and formed countless positive opinions about Japan. I also learned through my relationships with others, that communication is not merely limited to words. This experience changed my life, and I’m sure it will have a great influence on my future. I strongly encourage any interested students to participate in this program. If you have any questions regarding YFU and their exchange program, do not hesitate to ask me. I would love to help!
Going to Japan with YFU's summer program was the best decision I've made in my life. I've made met so many people, made a home in Hiroshima, and made tons of precious memories. Being an exchange student is an unforgettable experience. Feel free to ask me about questions you might have!
My name is Michelle. I am from Albuquerque, New Mexico. I studied abroad in Santiago, Chile during the fall of 2014. I lived with my host parents and two teenage host sisters, and I attended a private Catholic school. The transition to a different family and schooling environment was challenging, but I overcame those obstacles. Overall, I had a wonderful time exploring the country, making new friends, and discovering a second family. I can definitely say that my exchange experience was unforgettable and valuable, and I cannot wait to return to Chile!
I studied abroad with YFU for one exchange year(2014-2015) as a high school student in United States.It was one of the best year in my life. It was an opportunity for me to learn and experience, as well as to know myself better. Sharing with the host family and making friends with people all around the world was the best part. It's really surprising how fast you get connected with these people and be a part of it. I'm so greateful to YFU for making me realize this wonderful experience, and of course YFU is the best! As an alumni I also look forward to see myself to share these amazing experience and to encourage everyone to enjoy their fun year with YFU and to be a part of it as well.
My sophomore year of high school, I did an academic year abroad in Germany with the Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange scholarship. It was the best year of my life. YFU paired me with not just one, but two very welcoming and compatible host families: one temporary host family to stay with during my 3-week language orientation, and one permanent host family to live with for the following ten months. I not only met some other wonderful exchange students who shared many of my passions, but I also built a home in Germany; a place that I can always come back to. I still keep in contact with both my temporary and permanent host families, and my best friend from Germany is coming to visit me for eleven days this summer! To honestly explain my experience abroad would really be just to list off a bunch of cliches: it was unforgettable, priceless, and every day I'm thankful that I had the chance to experience something so life-changing. This coming August marks two years ago from when I first left for Germany, but the things I learned and the people I got to know still remain relevant to this day.
I spent 6 weeks in Finland as part of the Finland-US Senate Youth Exchange (FUSYE) scholarship in summer 2013. It was an absolutely amazing experience that I will never forget. I lived in a small town called Piikkiö, right outside of a larger city, Turku. My host parents and siblings were so welcoming and truly made me feel like part of the family. I would recommend an exchange program to anyone who is considering it. It will change your life and make you think differently about yourself and the world around you. You’ll gain a second home and another family, which is something you’ll never forget. I’m happy to answer all of your questions and concerns!
As a junior in high school, going from the foothills of the Rocky Mountains to a small town right outside of Milan was by far one of the best experiences of my life. I lived with a family of five (two host sisters and one host brother) who showed me the in's and out's of the area. Northern Italy became my home, and I began to slowly but surely learn the language and fall in love with the Italian lifestyle. Although my exchange was two years ago, I still remain very close to my host family, and have been back to visit since. I would love to help with any questions!
I spent 6 weeks in a suburb outside of Osaka, called Toyonaka-shi, during the summer of my junior year of high school. My exchange to Japan allowed me to look through the eyes of a culture very far from the one I knew. I'm still in contact with many of the friends I made and have made plans to visit a few of them in the future. My exchange abroad continues to influence my decisions in life. I'm currently a college sophomore studying International Business Marketing and Chinese. I am about to go on my third study abroad exchange since my experience with YFU (I will be in Qingdao, China this time). I want to encourage study abroad among the American youth and facilitate a greater change in American-Asian relations. I would love to help anyone looking to go abroad especially in Asia.
Many people ask me: Why Latvia? Honestly, I still don’t know the answer, but I am so glad I made that choice! I lived with a host family (mom, dad, and sister) and attended a local music school. I joined a choir, started a band, and was on national television twice! For not knowing a single word of the language, I somehow made it work; but there were definitely struggles along the way. Eastern Europe can be tricky, but by the end of the 11 months I found the sense of home in the country was far greater than all my original doubts. The friends are lifelong and the memories are forever. I would love to talk to you about studying abroad and answering any questions you have!
My gap year to Uruguay was the greatest time of my life and it motivated me to return to study at the university level. I think that other students have the opportunity to experience what I did if they enter an exchange program with the right mindset. Attitude is everything on any type of exchange; it can be a positive adventure from day one if you have the right intention. Feel free to ask me anything about going abroad - I have lived in three countries and have visited countless more.
Being an exchange student was the most influential experience of my high school years. I was placed in a small town in Tasmania, Australia with a very supportive host family. Now that I have returned to America, I have two families - my natural family and my Australian family. I encourage high school students to exchange to experience a new piece of the world through an optimal interactive learning model. Now, I am double majoring in mathematics and sociology and hope to work in education advocacy for under privileged students.
Nearly four years ago, I left on an adventure that has affected my life in many ways. I had so much fun and learned a lot - about my host country and myself - during my months abroad. I experienced so many wonderful things, but I also know, first-hand, how challenging an exchange can be. I know what it's like to have to change host families. But I also know just how rewarding all those hardships can be! Just because something is hard, doesn't mean it isn't worth it! I mean, there's a reason I've been back to Germany three times since my exchange! So, if you have any questions, or would like some advice, please, don't hesitate to ask! I'd be happy to help.
I loved every minute of my exchange in Thailand while it was happening, but it was not until I got home that I realized what a great impact it had on my life. The experience has guided my academic and professional endeavors and has left me with friends and family that will last a lifetime. I speak with my family from Thailand at least once a week and have reunited with them three times since my exchange.
Please do not hesitate to ask any questions. I encourage everyone to look into an exchange in Thailand!
Studying abroad through YFU was one of the best decisions I could've made. At first, I didn't want to leave my friends, family and life in the United States, but my parents were very encouraging and supportive. I gained so much from my year abroad, and at a young age. Since my year abroad, I've been able to use my experiences, my fluency in Spanish and my knowledge gained from all of my international friends in my every day life. I'm always encouraging peers to study abroad, travel (especially to Argentina), and am looking to do another year abroad through college. Studying abroad with YFU was an unforgettable experience and I would strongly recommend it!!
I had a wonderful experience during my exchange to France through YFU. I had a wonderful family and made friends that helped me have a great time there. My host family and I still talk and visit each other. My exchange allowed me to meet new people and made my host family feel like my own family. The culture and traditions of France feel like my own. I also miss the food whenever I go to France because I find it amazing and delicious. In my exchange to YFU Korea, I got to experience a new culture that also had a lasting influence on me. I loved going on both exchanges and was happy that I had the opportunity to go and the ability to go. Because of my wonderful exchanges with YFU, I decided to go on an exchange back to France in College as a Junior.
The summer of '08 was one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life! YFU and Toyota Manufacturing blessed me, a small town girl from eastern Kentucky, with a rare opportunity to travel to and actually live in a foreign country. During that brief summer abroad, I tried new food dishes, exchanged ideas and opinions with my amazing host family, and explored new cities. I later went on to study Portuguese and return to Brazil for a year of study abroad in college. During graduate school, I collaborated with Brazilian public health researchers, and am now using those language and professional skills for work in other countries. The YFU program is much more than just an international trip...it is a chance to grow as person and can provide a springboard for future opportunities!
Ecuador is amazing. I lived in a small city called Ibarra which is in the Sierra and 3 hours north of the capital Quito. During our year we went on trips to the coast, rainforest, and the Galapagos islands. When you make friends they will be friends for life! I have returned 6+ times since my exchange to visit and take part in many weddings and baptisms, and they always receive me and now my husband as well with open arms! Its amazing to see a country develop so much since the first time I arrived as an exchange student almost 10 years ago!
As the internet swept the nation the first thing I learned to do on the world wide web was search about travel. These searches led me to YFU and the opportunity to study abroad in New Zealand in 2000 for a semester. At the time that I took that leap I never realized it would define my entire life and drive my personal and professional choices forever. I ended up with an incredible family, as well as an incredible school where I made so many friends and got to do so many cool things. After New Zealand I studied abroad again in college and now I work internationally as a teacher and head of studies in Central Vietnam. If you are unsure of your decision, all I can say is, take the leap. I promise you won't regret it.
In early 1999, I began my study abroad experience by flying around the world to Tocumwal, New South Wales, Australia. I went from my small town in northern Vermont to a rural 600 acre farm along the Murray River in Australia. Those 6.5 months living with my host family permanently changed my life and I’m delighted to say that I visit them every few years. They will always be my Aussie family. I had a wonderful experience, both at home on the farm and during my schooling at Finley High School. There were 5 other exchange students in our school and the teachers and students really made us feel welcome and special. Everyone helped us settle in, choose the right classes, learn the rules, but most importantly, have a great study abroad experience. I highly recommend studying abroad, especially to Australia, for anyone that is interested. I have lifelong friends and wonderful memories from my time in Australia.
It has been almost 20 years since I did my exchange and can't imagine if I had not had the opportunity. It was an amazing experience in so many ways. I went from living in the Chicago suburbs to living on a small farm in a small town as part of a very large family that was very different than my own, but treated me as one of their own from the minute I walked off the plane. I also had the opportunity to travel all over New Zealand to see all of the different unique areas that are packed into a small country. Going on a year long exchange to a country in the Southern Hemisphere leaving in the middle of my junior year and returning in the middle of my senior year created some challenges when it came to applying to college, but in the end having gone on exchange is what I gave me an advantage for both getting into and going off to college. Since my exchange I have continued to travel the world and know that I would not be nearly as adventurous as I am if I had not gone to New Zealand. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions about going on exchange or for tips on how to stay on track to graduate when doing a yearlong exchange.
I can be honest and say YFU started my future. Without this experience I would not have lived and worked around the world. YFU gave me the taste for different cultures and travel. Since my YFU experience in Germany, I have lived 23 years in 9 different countries including Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Czech Republic, Australia, the Netherland, The United Kingdom and of course the USA. My cultural understanding experience was a highly valued commodity in work and helped me take on international roles in my company. Now I am happy it all started at 17 years old. What a jump start on life and exploring the work.
Hi! I'm Theresa, from the Midwest, USA, all my life, except for that year abroad to the Netherlands that changed my life and made me consider myself partly Dutch. I stayed with a family in Sneek, Friesland, The Netherlands and went to school there in years 1973-4. I just visited my family there this past spring and have stayed in touch over the years. I started out my year in Belgium, since I'd studied French, but that family ultimately couldn't continue having me stay there due to some unrelated issues. It was hard to be uprooted in a foreign place, and be sent to another family in another country with a completely foreign language, but it turned out to be the most fantastic experience I could have had. It also taught me to be confident and to find poise and strengths within myself. I gained a world perspective, and maturity that helped me do well in college afterward. It was a life-changing, wonderful year.