YFU Germany Was Amazing! Past Review

By (Undecided, High School) for

Youth For Understanding (YFU): YFU Programs in Germany

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained so much from this time abroad, not only about new language and cultures, but also about myself. I have become so much more open after this year. I really understand now who I am. This program was perfect for that because it allows students to have the freedom to do what they want to do in their school or village, but also is structured enough that they have somebody checking in on them and making sure everything is alright.

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The school system is completely different in Germany, then the US. At the Gymnasium I was in, most of the work was if you wanted to do it. Because it was the upperclass in the Gymnasium, the teachers never checked homework or encouraged students to do work, it was just there for the students to learn from. Of course they would have to answer questions the next day on what the homework was about, but it was never forced to do work or participate.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Through YFU, each student has a lot of resources when they have a problem. They all have an area representative (I had two, a mother-son pair) And they help with the small things and are the first to go to if one has a problem. They will usually contact you once a month just to make sure that everything is alright in the host family, school and with the changing cultures. They do have a central office that one can e mail or call or write a letter to or fax where more important things are figured out, such as flight dates and activities for the other exchange students in your area. I think that it was a great program. I started out my first 4 weeks, just getting a taste of the German culture, but I still had a class with 6 other American exchange students and saw some sort of American every day. After that, we all changed host families and were split up around the country. Each student goes to a school without any other Americans. I think that really helps with actually being emerged into the culture and country. All of my expectations in this program have been met, plus some. I never imagined that I would be able to learn so much language and culture in a year, and that I've seen as much as I have

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

YFU will try to place students with a host family that would be a good fit. Overall, they do a great job. The host families go through an interview process and the program checks to make sure that the exchange student has a bed to sleep in and good living conditions in the home. If there are any problems with the students and their host families, students just have to contact their area representative and they are either able to solve the conflict, or they will move the student into another home. If there are no problems with the family, then the exchange student really becomes part of the family. It's a wonderful process.

* Food:

In the host families, the families usually cook. Because of this, the food varies from student to student. My host family always had good food. We always had one warm meal a day (either lunch or dinner) and then a sandwich or some sort of bread meal for the not warm meal. Breakfast was usually Müsli (Fruit, oats and yogurt) or a Brötchen (German delicious bread rolls)

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

My program arranged voluntary meeting with the exchange students in the area, and one middle year seminar that every exchange student has to attend. Usually in those meetings, some sort of cultural difference or event is discussed or done. There are trips that one can pay to take part of to different cities in Germany and Austria.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

My host family and host city were very safe. I've never had any problems with it. With the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) scholarship, students receive German health care, free of charge. I have never had to use my health care though, so I can not say how easy it is to use or any problems with it.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

I had a 4 week language course for the first month I was in Germany. I didn't know any German before getting on the plane, and this course helped me learn the basics of the language, such as conjugating verbs, adjective-noun agreement, and verb placement. It really wasn't until I started picking up on more German and actually attempted speaking it with my host family that these lessons set in, and I learned even more. At the beginning, I could speak English with almost everybody that I interacted with, but after about 5 months, my life was about mostly in German, speaking it all the time with my host family and when I interact with strangers.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Support of area representatives
  • 4-week Language course
  • Living with a host family
* What could be improved?
  • Approval is needed for most travel
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? For students considering this program, I would say that they should just go for it. I have had a wonderful year, doing things I never thought I would do, and meeting so many new people. I traveled all around Germany, and Europe. I went to Barcelona with my host family for a week, and then a couple months later hopped a train with a friend and went to Amsterdam. I've met people not only from Germany, but I also made friends with a Brazilian, a couple Australians and a Polish girl. Really every kind of student can go on this program, there's something for everybody.