Alumni Spotlight: Maya Hammond

Maya Hammond spent the fall semester of her sophomore year studying abroad in Beijing, China. While abroad, she attended school every day and learned to speak Mandarin Chinese fluently. Her life-changing experiences abroad led her to becoming more involved with Youth for Understanding.

Why did you choose this program?

YFU students in China

After doing a lot of research, I found that YFU had a lot of positive reviews. Once contacting them for more information, I found that this program had the best communication and support system.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

The program helped me find a school, a host family, plane tickets, as well as many other things.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Before going on program, every student should be open minded. Being honest with your host family can help prevent future problems along the road.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

On a typical Friday, I would eat breakfast with my host family and then ride an hour an a half on the metro to school. Once I arrived, class started at 8:00 and we would break for lunch around 12:30.

After school, my friends and I would take the subway to new places and explore the city. Then I would come home around 7:00, and eat dinner and play games with my host family. On Sundays, I would Skype my family back home and spend the rest of the day with my host family.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it and/or how did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was the language barrier. In the beginning this was a bit of a challenge because my host family didn't speak any English. However, this pushed me to study harder at school so I would communicate better with my family.

My family and I bonded even more than I'd imagined, because they were passionate about teaching me and I was passionate about learning.

Before I knew it, we were able to communicate no problem.

Why did you choose to go abroad in high school instead of college?

Going abroad in college is also an amazing experience. Both, allow the student to become more independent, mature, cultured, and to develop an appreciation for other countries.

If you go abroad in high school, all these things will happen much sooner and you will notice a change between you and your classmates.