The benefits of international exchange reach far beyond the year or semester a student spends abroad. Experiencing a new language, living with a host family and adapting to a new culture produces benefits that will last a lifetime.
YFU has successfully exchanged hundreds of thousands of students and is here to help every step of the way.
"These are some of the many reasons why more than 4,000 parents trust us with their teenagers each year. When you choose YFU, you choose peace of mind."
Parents' Frequently Asked Questions
What support services does YFU provide participants?
YFU provides materials designed to help with planning, preparation, and participation in an overseas living experience. Our network of trained and committed volunteers throughout participating countries to monitor student placement and progress.
How are host families selected?
Many prospective host families come to YFU after hearing about the program from acquaintances; others respond to publicity in the media; still others decide to host a student because their own son or daughter has been an exchange student. Some even host because they themselves were exchange students as teenagers.
Just as students are interviewed prior to their acceptance, host families must also be interviewed by a YFU volunteer prior to placement of a student with them. A host family must be emotionally, physically, and financially able to provide a suitable living experience for a teenager. During the interview, the YFU volunteer finds out as much as possible about the family's activities, interests, structure, sleeping arrangements, hobbies, etc., in order to find an appropriate student for that family.
How much spending money is my child likely to need?
Length of stay, cost of living in the host country, and your child's spending habits will help determine the amount of money that may be needed.
As an average rule of thumb, the equivalent of $150 per month is considered adequate for summer, semester, and academic year students. Students should be able to get by easily on this amount (or even less). The Welcome Letter from your son's or daughter's host country may provide more specific advice on spending money. If at all possible, your son or daughter should not loan or borrow money.
What happens if my child is seriously hurt?
In the event of a serious accident, illness, or injury, the first responsibility of the host family and YFU is the treatment and care of the student. This may mean that treatment is carried out before you are contacted. (Please refer to the Parent/Student agreement that is signed upon acceptance.) As soon as there is something to report, this will be done as quickly as possible through the usual YFU communication channels: overseas national office to National Office to district office to you.
What if dangerous situations develop in a host country?
YFU Canada is in close contact with our overseas offices. If there is any indication that it is not safe for students either to enter or remain in a country due to political unrest, public health problems, natural disasters, etc., the program is subject to cancellation. If a program is cancelled prior to the students' departure from Canada, students are usually given the options of going to another country or receiving a refund. If the students are already in the host country, they are usually given the choice of going to another country or returning home. Such instances have been rare in the history of YFU. However, when such measures are warranted, YFU acts in the best interests of its participants.
How and when do we take care of visa requirements?
You will need to check with the embassy or consulate of the country to see if a visa is required. If a visa is required, you must work directly with the embassy or consulate to obtain the visa. Many embassies maintain their own websites; general information can be found at http://www.embassy.com. Visa requirements are subject to change from year to year, sometimes without notice, as countries make changes in their laws.
Please be aware that YFU has no control over the logic or procedures required to obtain a visa. Some countries have very complicated and expensive visa requirements and the Consulate staff of your destination country is often better-equipped to answer questions than YFU, so we recommend contacting them directly if you have concerns.
What changes can I expect in my child?
We encourage your child to develop greater independence, a sense of adventure, and maturity. Exchange students often must rely on themselves for a great number of decisions—major and minor—and learn to live with the results and consequences of those decisions.
YFU students often grow to love a second set of parents, and you may feel some jealousy toward those people, especially as you read and hear about them in emails and phone calls. Your child will also make many new friends and acquaintances.
Just as your relationship with your child has changed throughout his or her life, it will continue to change. For the most part, the changes are ultimately positive but may take time to get used to. Being open and accepting of the inevitable changes will allow you and your child to negotiate the inherent tension that comes with change.