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Make The World Your Home - YFU Student Exchange-Students, Families And Volunteers

Always as a child, my mum told me that to properly live, one must wander. As comfortable as the nest is, you probably won’t experience much hidden behind it.

Armed with a 20kg suitcase I watched my mum fight back tears as I entered the International Terminal of Melbourne Airport.  For 11 months, Sweden threw all she had at me. 

Now, more than ever, it is vital that we adapt to our globalizing world by developing our cultural and linguistic knowledge. Apart from the job (and travel) opportunities of knowing another language, it’s also a great party trick. 

My life would never have been the same if I never left our corner of the world. I would have never expected to be able to climb a mountain in the Arctic Circle. Battling wind and snow surrounded by a group of some of the kindest, adventurous and most loving teenagers from around the world. I no longer fear judgement. I no longer worry about talking to strangers. I no longer fear being myself. I overcame more than most do in their lives through my exchange, and I was only 16. 

Exchange is more than just travelling. It’s more than just school. It’s more than just an adventure. My host mother always told me, that when I am old and rocking on a chair and I recall the 5 best things in my life, my exchange year would be one of them. I could travel, but then I wouldn’t see the real culture. The jewels of a country are the people, and being an exchange student I met these people, lived with them and gained an in depth understanding of them. 

Hayden YFU Exchange Student 2014
I first met Hayden at a YFU (Youth For Understanding) Orientation before he left for Sweden. As a volunteer for YFU, one of my favourite parts is meeting the students before they go on exchange and then again when they return. It’s great to see how each student has grown and hear about their exchange adventures. As a volunteer I met some amazing people as well as improving many different skills such as public speaking and organisations. 

While I was growing up, my family hosted many exchange students from all over the world. You don’t have to host a student if you want to go on exchange, but my family and I found it a fun way to learn about another culture. The students that stayed with us became another member of the family. My mum gave them chores to do around the house just like the rest of us and they joined us in family activities like going to my brother’s soccer matches.  As an exchange student, you want to become a member of the family, not just a tourist.  

Emma YFU Volunteer 
If you would like to make the world your home either by becoming an exchange student, hosting a student, or being part of the YFU volunteer network, contact us today