Your journey to a successful exchange: Prepare to depart!

Embarking on an exchange program with YFU is an exhilarating adventure that promises new friendships, experiences, and memories to last a lifetime. The journey to a successful exchange takes preparation and setting realistic expectations about what to expect.

Firstly – Let’s pack! 

Students often ask us, “How do I pack for a year?” “What will I need?” “What should I take with me?”

When you are accepted as a YFU Exchange Student, you will be given access to ‘The Departure Lounge’ – a new online portal for our outbound students. The portal contains lots of helpful information, including our comprehensive Packing Guides created with the help of our returnee student mentors and program managers.

Here are a few tips: 

What to pack in your carry-on bag.

  • Documentation: Passport, Visa, travel insurance (provided by YFU), flight information and other necessary paperwork.
  • Finances: Carry a small amount of local currency, and remember to notify your bank of your travel plans and arrange an overseas debit card.
  • Electronics: Pack the right adapters and converters for your devices.
  • Personal Care items and a change of clothes in case your luggage is delayed.
  • Your YFU T-shirt so you are easy to identify on arrival

What clothing to pack.

It is helpful to research your host country’s climate and cultural norms to help you pack appropriate attire. We can match you with a returnee student mentor who went on exchange to your host country, and they will be able to help. Choose versatile pieces that can be layered and mixed to save space, and remember, less is more!

Understanding and Managing Culture Shock and Homesickness. 

Your exchange year is a unique chapter in your life, and setting realistic expectations is important. Be prepared for different teaching styles and educational requirements. Be patient about learning the local language and take the time to familiarise yourself with your host family’s rules and expectations. If you are unsure about anything – mealtimes, chores or what time you are expected to be home from school – ask your host parents and then ask again if you are still not sure!

Culture shock is a common experience for exchange students, characterised by many emotions as you adjust to a new cultural environment. To help you cope, we suggest familiarising yourself a little with your host country’s customs, traditions, and social norms before departure. Your student mentor will be able to help with this. It’s important to remember that these feelings won’t last forever and to stay open-minded and flexible in your expectations. Your YFU support network will offer guidance and assistance. Allow yourself time to adapt. Feeling overwhelmed is okay; find healthy coping methods, maybe journaling or light exercise.

It’s natural to miss home, and homesickness is real! Talking to your host family about your feelings and immersing yourself in your new environment can help. Thanks to technology, home is always close, but your host parents are your best source of support at this time.

As you pack your bags and prepare for your exchange, remember that preparation is the key to a smooth transition. By managing culture shock and homesickness and setting realistic expectations, you’ll be well on your way to a rewarding exchange experience with YFU!

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