By Ginny Moremen
The aspect of going abroad, at any age, can be frightening, but once you get on the plane and start your adventure this fear fades away. I was a part of the School Year Abroad program for my semester abroad (though there are many other abroad programs that cater to an individual’s wants and needs). School Year Abroad opened its semester program this year and I was one of the first students to participate. There are benefits to attending both a semester and a year abroad. One of the advantages when doing a semester instead of a year abroad is if you are going away during your junior year with college coming up. As I go into both the pros and cons of spending time away from home at a young age I know that the outcome for me, personally, was definitely positive.
Going abroad is an opportunity that aims to show new cultures, food, and friendships. If you are debating going abroad the most important thing to make sure of is that you will take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. The difference in experience between those who I know lived their lives abroad to the fullest and those who didn’t is very distinct. The ones who did not take advantage of the opportunities that lay before them came away wanting to go home with no excitement over their adventure. However, those who did came away with a love for travel, a new community, and an experience they will forever cherish.
While at SYA I must say that the workload was very different, as was my life outside of school. I was overall a lot busier. The change in the curriculum from Beaver to another school was challenging but I find it essential to experience before going to college. My outside-of-school experiences were also a lot more exciting. We went on field trips every Thursday and my friends and I even made some of our own independent of our school. Some examples of this include going to French concerts, visiting the farmer’s market on Saturday mornings, and going out to dinner on the weekends. The school itself planned week-long field trips to explore different parts of the country, France. In our first two weeks, we went on a four-day trip to explore the region of Bretagne which was where the program was based. This integration helped us, students, to understand the history of the place we were inhabiting. Then later in the semester, we took a week-long trip to Marseille.
I highly encourage anyone who thinks they may be interested in studying abroad just to take the jump and apply. The experience gives you a chance to see what being an adult is like and to broaden your community. SYA was my favorite part of my high school experience and it was worth taking that leap of faith into a new experience.