YFU Switzerland

In den Startlöchern…


Nun ist es bald soweit. In ein paar Wochen fliege ich nach Übersee! Ich freue mich riesig und hoffe, dass ich regelmässig Zeit habe um meine Abenteuer hier zu teilen. Ich betone, hoffe! Ich versuche mein Bestes, aber verspreche nichts 🙂 
Schaut zwischendurch mal vorbei und bis bald!



I did not know what I should expect when I decided to go on an exchange. Well I knew I would learn about a new culture, new country and meet new people somewhere far, far away from that so called home. I heard a couple of times that an exchange year would change you. I never understood how that would be possible. How can you change in just a year? It always takes ages to grow up just a bit. But now I know. An exchange year changes you in many different ways you would expect it to. It changed me in ways which are hard to explain. It influenced my personality, perspectives and way of living. This time taught me things I never knew and would have never known without this experience. It grew to be a part of me. New Zealand is a part of me now. I have an indescribable beautiful and unique connection to that country and people now.

I can understand it is hard for people who never experienced something like that to understand this phenomenon. It can be hard to understand how important this experience is for me but also for young teenagers all over the world and their development.

Something you have to understand though is one of the most cliché sayings in the exchange world ‘an exchange is not a year in a life, it is a life in a year’. It might be hard to imagine but this statement is totally and completely true.

First you decide to go on an adventure somewhere in a country you may have never been to before. And then you arrive there and everything starts to change. You arrive in a country you don’t know. The only thing you know is, you will spend your next year here and you have an address. An address to a family you don’t know either. So first when you arrive you don’t know anything really.

Normally your host family waits all excited at the airport for you, the unknown foreign student. In my case it was the other way round. I waited for them. My plane arrived an hour earlier which is not normal for flights to Christchurch. So I waited. And waited a bit longer until a group of five came running into the airport with a poster in their hands where my name was written on. At that point, when you see your host family, you are already into the adventure of creating a new life.

That’s something that amazed me. I created a whole new life with a unique family which will always be in my heart and friends from zero on. It was an unknown place and I had to communicate in a language I had my struggles with.

With the time moving you start to understand how things work around you. What is appropriate to say and what not. Every conversation, road crossing, supermarket visit, window shopping, class, break time is a challenge at the beginning until it starts to be normal. Of course during the first couple of months there are always some struggles of sad and loneliness to overcome but those are the ones you learn most off. Suddenly though you are like a flower. It is spring time and you can start to grow. Talk. Express yourself. Interact. Joke. And people around you start to see who you really are. You start to find your place in a society far, far away from the one you have been used to. And this leads to your new life and an unforgettable lifetime.

Like always you have to go when you finally found your place. Isn’t that a sick irony? In that case is not ‘a glass half full’ or ‘half empty’. It just sucks. Of course I was really excited to go back to my other home in Switzerland to see my family and friends again. To create some new memories with them. But you leave a completely different live behind you. A life you have worked hard for. And you know you can’t just go back into that life. What is gone is gone.

And now being back in Bern I am glad to be here. It is beautiful here. I appreciate everything a lot more; how dreamy our old town is, how blue the Aare is and how you can always hear three different church bells. But I miss my other life too. I would be lying if I would say it was not worth it. It is worth every single sad moment, every tear I cry because I miss everyone so much. But I think the fact of this sadness only indicates how valuable all the memories are I was able to make in New Zealand. A big thank you to everyone at this point I have spent some time with and were and still are here for me! I think the fact that a relationship with someone from another country can overcome the difference in language, culture and distance means that it is real. It means that two people are at the same ‘wave length’. It will never get easier but it is worth it. Trust me.

After all I would say being abroad is about getting to know yourself from a whole new perspective and questioning everything you have learned to that point of life. You learn there is not just one right way to do something. It is about learning that there is a whole world waiting for you to be explored but to appreciate all the places you have been to. And in reality the year that has passed changed me more than any other year in my life.

Thank you YFU for making my dream of a second home come true.

Last month and Niagara falls

Hi guys, sorry it took me so long to finally write an update again! I can’t believe, how fast time goes! In one week I am already going to be on my way back, so this is maybe going to be one of my (or my) last update. Anyway, there happened a lot in the last few weeks. First, we had a lot of Track meets and in the JV Meet at the end I even got my first two medals! I got second with my 3200 relay team and 3rd in the 3200m run. Also my host family took me to Niagara Falls for Senior Skip Day and the following weekend. They were awesome! And because it was sunny and the falls are so powerful that there is always so much water in the air, there was a beautyful rainbow. In general the whole trip was amazing and I am so thankful to my host family to show this to me! A week later, on the 26. May we had our last day of school (We exchange students count as seniors and get out like them two weeks earlier then the others). So on our last day all seniors spent the day on the parking lot in front of the school and just chilled with their friends. Afterwards we had a shaving cream fight on a football field and it was awesome! The next week there was Laurens birthday and we went to get a pedicure and then we went kayaking in Lansing. It was so much fun! The next day was graduation and I felt like in a high school movie. Everyone (student and teacher) was wearing the cap and grown and we were sitting in a square of chairs and each row went down to the stage by itself. Then each person was announced and walked across the stage and got their diploma and shook some hands. The following day it was Laurens open house, which is just an invitation to most of the people you know and a huge set-up of everything you achieved by now like team participations, etc. and there is a lot of food. The people normally also give you money for college. And last saturday it was my goodbye party with my friends already, because I won’t have time to do it later. I just invited my close friends and we had a pool party and played some volleyball and took pictures, etc. It was a lot of fun and I am so grateful that I met them all! Thank you guys! And on friday my host dad takes a friend of mine and me to Mackinaw and the UP to show me this part of Michigan before I leave. I am so excited for that, I can’t wait! It is going to be awesome! I think, that is pretty much everything you missed. I hope you all have a great time. A big thank you to everyone who supported me this year and made it possible that I would have this great experience! Especially my real and my host family: THANK YOU! And also to all my friends: Thanks! I love all of you! Bye


Jobshadowing bei YFU Austria

[Generously sponsored by Movetia]
Vor ein paar Wochen hatte ich die Gelegenheit, einige Tage bei den Kolleg/innen von YFU Austria zu verbringen und sie mit Fragen nach österreichischen best practices zu löchern. Dabei lag mein spezieller Fokus (natürlich) auf den Prozessen im Inbound-Bereich.


YFU Austria ist eine relativ junge und dementsprechend innovative Organisation, die in den 10 Jahren ihres Bestehens stetig gewachsen ist. In der Zwischenzeit betreut YFU Austria jedes Jahr 60+ Outbound- und 40+ Inbound-Schüler/innen und Gastfamilien.


Während meiner Zeit in Wien hatte ich die Chance, mit Kolleg/innen mit verschiedenen Funktionen über die strukturellen und alltäglichen Herausforderungen im Inbound-Bereich zu sprechen. Von Sarah, der alten, und Elfriede, der neuen Geschäftsleiterin, habe ich einen sehr guten Überblick über die Strukturen und die Aufgabenteilung bei YFU Austria erhalten. Mit den Inbound-Spezialistinnen Andrea und Almut konnte ich Praxis-Beispiele diskutieren und Tipps und Ideen austauschen. Schliesslich durfte ich an einem Meeting teilnehmen, bei dem Bent, der IT-Verantwortliche, und Daniela, die Marketingspezialistin, erörterten, wie Soziale Medien in Zukunft noch effektiver genutzt werden können, um YFU und YFU-Programme bekannter zu machen. Glücklicherweise blieb mir zwischen den Gesprächen jeweils ein bisschen Zeit, um das Gehörte zu ordnen und in einer geeigneten Form festzuhalten.


Am Ende habe ich Wien mit einem ganzen Katalog von Ideen zur Gastfamiliensuche, zur Gestaltung von Informationsmaterialien und zur Betreuung von Programmteilnehmenden verlassen, wovon eine gute Handvoll bereits umgesetzt werden konnte.


Sascha Wyniger
National Inbound Coordinator

und dann sind es plötzlich nur noch 2 Wochen

Ganz recht, leider werde ich in etwas mehr als zwei Wochen mein zweites zu Hause hier in den Vereinigten Staaten verlassen müssen, was mich sehr traurig stimmt. In den letzten 5 Monaten (seit meinem letzten Beitrag) habe ich eindrückliche und unvergessliche Momente erleben durfen.

Etwas Zeit? Dann lade ich herzlich zum Lesen ein!

Im Frühling habe ich mich entschieden, dem Tennis team beizutreten, die saison ist leider nun schon wieder vorbei, aber die Zeit die ich mit meinen Freunden aus dem Team verbringen konnte ist unvergesslich! Die Trainings und Matches waren genial und stolz bin ich auch auf unser Team, denn wir blieben ungeschlagen die ganze Saison über! Good job ladies! Auch meinen Trainer werde ich nie vergessen, er mich wohl auch nicht nach dem ich ihn mit dem Ball an der Stirn getroffen habe, ups 😉 Er hat Tennis mit solch einer  Leidenschaft beigebracht wie nur wenige Trainer es können!

Ende April gingen Band, Orchestra und Band nach Nashville, wo wir an einem Festival für eine Jury spielten und nebst Proben die Stadt erkundschaften durften und gutes Essen geniessen konnten! Nashville ist eine sehr interessante Stadt, mit sehr relevanter Geschichte der Amerikanischen Musik!

Der nächste Trip lag vor mir: Chicago mit den anderen Austauschschülern aus aller Welt! Ich kannte einige schon, denn viele wurden zu unglaublich guten Freunden in diesem Jahr! Ich hoffe ich kann mein Versprechen einhalten und sie alle in ihren Heimatländern besuchen, ich hoffe es! In Chicago hatten wir drei Tage volles Programm, gutes Essen und eine gute Stimmung! Ich vermisse die wunderschöne Stadt mit den unvergesslichen Erinnerungen schon unglaublich!

Das darauffolgende Wochenende meine Gastfamilie und ich reisten nach Kanada um die wunderschönen Niagarafälle zu bestaunen! Das Naturerlebnis ist sehr eindrücklich, mit einem Boot und dem Ticket um hinter den Fällen durchgehen zu können war man ganz nahe dran! Der Anblick der beleuchteten Fälle am Abend werde ich niemals vergessen!

Im nächsten Blog werde ich noch von der “Graduation” und von meinem San Francisco Trip erzählen…