Youth For Understanding (YFU)
97% Rating
(35 Reviews)

Youth For Understanding (YFU)

YFU participants gain intercultural understanding, learn mutual respect, and develop a sense of social responsibility. Your experience abroad gives you leadership competencies necessary to meet today’s challenges and benefit from the opportunities of a fast-changing global community. YFU programming allows you to immerse yourself in another culture, learn a new language and meet like-minded individuals who share in our mission.

With YFU, you'll appreciate the nuances of a foreign language, and test your confidence in new situations. When you join YFU, you join an expert global exchange network with almost 65 years of experience and over 40 countries for you to study abroad in. From application completion and travel accommodations to adjusting to your exchange, our experienced Admissions Counselors and volunteers are here to support you every step of the way.

For more information about YFU's study and volunteer abroad programs for teenagers, please visit our website.

Most Recent Program Reviews

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Aishat
Female
19 years old
Chicago

A Fantastic Experience with YFU

10/10

As a 17 year old in the suburbs of the Midwest, studying abroad seemed such a faraway and untouchable concept. It seemed that only adolescents in movies and TV shows went on exchanges. It wasn’t until my junior year in high school that the topic of exchange was broached. My friends were looking into different study abroad programs for the summer. When I became more interested in going abroad, I had missed the deadline of the program all of my friends were applying to, so I went in search for another program. That is when I discovered the Youth for Understanding program. At first glance, the price tag for exchange seemed particularly steep and was admittedly discouraging, but upon closer inspection, I found numerous scholarships that I could apply for to cut the cost substantially.

The application process was very straightforward and the questions were thought provoking. As I moved on to the interview portion, I was ecstatic to find that it was more lax and non-pressuring than I was used to. This was foreign to me because many interviews that I’ve had before made sure that I knew it was a competition. Of course, in this circumstance, I was essentially competing with other students interested in going abroad, as well as the students hoping to receive a scholarship. However, my interview with a YFU volunteer was more of a conversation that gauged my possible success abroad.

Through the period between my acceptance and getting on the plane, YFU guided me and my family through the preparation. I enjoyed the sectional orientation held by volunteers to help students going abroad in my area. I had the opportunity to meet several students whom were traveling to the same country as I and I learned some great skills to be successful abroad.

I also participated in the pre-departure orientation in Berkeley, California at the University of California-Berkeley. Unfortunately, for my group, we rushed to learn for a day and a half instead of a 3-day orientation. During the orientation, we met fantastic volunteers who were in our places a year or even ten years ago. We learned about some aspects of the culture we were going into. We also learned tips and phrases that would show respect, kindness, and gratitude to our host families during our first few days abroad.

I can honestly say that YFU fit me with the best family that I could have been placed with. Your host family is there to care for you and provide for all of your basic needs. Your placement can make or break your experience. As an only child, I worried about how I would be able to connect with my host siblings. I worried if I would like my host family and if they would like me. During my exchange, I learned that my worries were irrational. From day one, they made sure that I knew that I was welcome in their home. My host parent even reminded me of my natural parents, which kept me from feeling too homesick.

So, why YFU? Personally, I describe my exchange as my true transition from childhood to adulthood. Abroad, I was more independent in the way that I made most of my own decisions. However, YFU always made sure that I always had resources to assist me. Exchange really makes you aware of how big the world truly is. I’ve learned so much about a culture different from my own. These experiences that I have had, thanks to the YFU program, are sure to stay with me throughout my lifetime.

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Lauren
Female
17 years old
Stanley

A Once in a Life Time Experience

10/10

This trip truly changed my life. I got had experiences and met people that have truly helped shape me as a person. I have gained skills that I will take and use for the rest of my life. I can never show how grateful I am for the experiences YFU has given me. I got the opportunity to go to a school, join Kendo club, explore beautiful places, and meet tons of people. This experience truly widened my eyes to the beauty of different cultures.

How can this program be improved?

Longer trips and more group exploration activities.

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Mira
Female
18 years old
Chicago

Best Summer Of My Life

10/10

YFU honestly gave me the chance to have the best summer of my life!
I had just finished my 3rd year of Japanese study, so I felt it was time to actually test my skills and go to Japan. YFU’s 6-week summer program with a host family was perfect. I was a little wary about going away for so long, but after my return, I wished I could’ve stayed for a whole year.
I felt completely safe the entire time, not just because Japan is one of the safest countries in the world, but also because YFU prepared me well for my time abroad with orientations and information, as well as setting up support systems for me in Japan.
My host family was the best part of my experience by far. I am an only child, so having two older brothers was a brand new and wonderful experience. My mom made amazing food, my brothers and I got along so well, and my dad was always saying “本当の兄妹みたい!” (You really look like siblings!).
I lived in a tiny agricultural town in Yamanashi prefecture, not at all as glamorous as my hometown of Chicago! Despite that, I had a blast, and I never felt like I was jealous of people living in bigger cities or of those who were doing a lot of tourist-y sightseeing. I was in Japan to be truly immersed in the language and culture, and YFU gave me the perfect opportunity for that.
I also went to high school for 5 weeks out of 6, and this allowed me to make lifelong friends and learn the traditional Japanese arts of flower-arrangement (kado) and sword-fighting (kendo).
I wish I could live this summer of my life over and over again, and I’m so excited to go back!

How can this program be improved?

I can't think of anything!

Kathleen
Female
27 years old
The Woodlands, Texas

Seeing the World in a New Light

10/10

Studying abroad never crossed my mind until I heard and saw videos on Youtube about it. Originally I thought that studying abroad was only something you would see on television, but I was wrong. When I heard of YFU, I knew then that I could make my dream a reality. The application process is fairly simple and requires a application fee. During the process one thing I liked was that YFU was there and were really supportive of me. They made sure I was on time with due dates and such. And really they made sure I was ready for a journey of a life time. One of the biggest issues is about money and how much it was cost. Lucky for me and most of the students we were about to get scholarships. For me the scholarship that I had was the Japan American Friendship Scholarship that covers most of the tuition, leaving us to pay $3,000 of the $12,000.
Once I was abroad in Japan, we all go through this honeymoon phase and after that we notice that exchange isn't all rainbows and unicorns. For me, I went through this rough patch where I wasn't fully able to communicate with my classmates. First of all, I don't know a lot of Japanese and secondly my shyness got in the way. Leading me to another good point of YFU, they did a good job placing me in a school and host family that was so kind and supportive. There was a teacher at my school who really helped my through my predicament and helped me see what I had to do in order to better improve my situation. Also at home, my family was always there to make me laugh and after a rough day they would be there to make me laugh. My host family really made me feel like I was their daughter and sister! I felt like I belonged and they were my home. Once I was able to make friends and connections with my classmates I really felt like I was a part of the Japanese school system. This particular experience really helped me get out of my comfort zone and due to this I was able to be not so shy anymore. Still on the topic about placement, is that you don't learn of where you will be staying and attending school until about a month or so before. The wait is pretty long, it is to insure that you are placed into a home that is best suited to you. Also, I was placed into Yamanashi prefecture, and to most people they probably have never heard of it, but I think that's one of the beauties about YFU you are placed into a area that best suits your taste and your preferences, but its also good to be open minded about it too. For me I really didn't have a preference as to where I'll live while in Japan all I wanted was to experience as many things as possible and I believe being ope minded about the whole experience in general will lead to more opportunities to see the world in a new light.
Overall, I believe that YFU is a good program to consider when finding a study abroad program. You get to become more independent, you get to broaden your horizons, and get to see the world in a new light thus making one world of cultural understanding.

How can this program be improved?

One thing that could be improved upon is transportation especially when going from Japan to America. I remember people had very very different schedules even if they live in the same city, which created a lot of confusion with us. Also, the first group that went before me had a lot more time for orientation about 3 days , while we had about 1 day for orientation. So I believe that if it were sorted equally that would work so much better instead of having to cram so much into so little time.

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Ronak
Male
18 years old
Fort Worth

Once in a Lifetime Opportunity

10/10

Going on an intercultural exchange is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so you have to make sure you do it right. YFU is the best option. While I did have many exciting, educational, and emotional experiences abroad, my father had his doubts at first. After conducting thorough research, we concluded that YFU was the safest program around with their intricate layers of support for both the student and natural family. During my exchange, YFU ensured that I was safe, comfortable, and ready to learn. They mapped out each part of the exchange to avoid mishaps, accidents, and distrubances (even at the airport which was miraculous). Great experiences can be had anywhere, but safe and educational experiences are YFU's specialty in my opinion. I encourage any parents of prospective students to research YFU's support system, and I bet you will come to the same conclusion that my father and I did: YFU is the best option.

How can this program be improved?

Frankly, I had a great exchange; I cannot recall any aspects that I would consider changing. It seems YFU has perfected the intercultural exchange for high school students.

Program Listings

Japan

Youth For Understanding (YFU)
Interested in Japan? Learn Japanese culture directly from your classmates and host family! As you are exposed to native Japan...

Germany

Youth For Understanding (YFU)
Study abroad in Germany with YFU. Regardless of your level of German, you will have opportunities to improve and practice wit...

China

Youth For Understanding (YFU)
Upon arrival, students complete an intensive 2-week Chinese language course then move on to their host family and begin takin...

Sweden

Youth For Understanding (YFU)
Whether you take classes at a local school or participate in a special program for visual art or music, you'll experience wha...

Belgium

Youth For Understanding (YFU)
Study abroad with YFU in either French or Dutch speaking Belgium. Students in the French-speaking areas will have the opportu...

Spain

Youth For Understanding (YFU)
With YFU's study abroad program, you'll take classes alongside Spanish students at a local high school. Outside the classroom...

Hungary

Youth For Understanding (YFU)
Begin learning Hungarian as you live with a host family and study at a local high school. As you make friends with your Hunga...

Finland

Youth For Understanding (YFU)
Attend one of the top school systems in the world when you select Finland as your choice country for a school year or semeste...

Norway

Youth For Understanding (YFU)
Study abroad with YFU in Norway and attend classes at a local high school while living with a host family. With fifteen diffe...

Australia

Youth For Understanding (YFU)
Attend high school in Australia! Make friends with your local classmates and explore the unique way of life Down Under. Year,...

Argentina

Youth For Understanding (YFU)
Study humanities, business, science or technology in Argentina with YFU. Work on your Spanish, whether you're just beginning...

Sweden

Youth For Understanding (YFU)
Do you have students that are curious about the world and would benefit from the global exposure of an international educatio...

France

Youth For Understanding (YFU)
Study with French students in a local high school during your time abroad with YFU. Between your classmates and your host fam...

Brazil

Youth For Understanding (YFU)
Attend high school in Brazil during YFU's semester or year abroad program. You'll meet local students and better acquaint you...

South Korea

Youth For Understanding (YFU)
Study in South Korea and immerse yourself in this special country and language for a school year or semester. Your host famil...