Studying abroad shouldn’t be foreign to students

Aviva Futornick, Online Editor

Just after the clock struck midnight and we dove into 2017, I stuffed my over-sized bag, hopped on a plane and left Sequoia, my family and my life for a 5-month adventure in France. Four days later I was back in school, but in a new classroom, surrounded by new people and in a new language.

I decided to leave everything I’ve ever known for the chance to experience and understand the sides of cultures other than my own. I leaped out of my comfort zone for the chance to immerse myself, and, along the way, I created unforgettable friendships and memories.
Less than 2 percent of American high school students go abroad every year. Yet, there are hundreds of programs students have the opportunity to choose from. No matter the length or cost of a program the outcomes of going abroad reach far beyond their stay and create cultural connections to last a lifetime.

I can see changes in myself from studying abroad that I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else. I am more confident when I present myself. I am more comfortable talking to new people. I can understand and speak French. I am now a self-certified croissant connoisseur. Through broadening my horizons, I’ve grown in my ability to communicate with others, and gained some awesome bragging rights over my friends. I got to understand the viewpoints of other countries in a time when our country and our world struggles to agree on how to get along. And the list continues.

I’ll admit, it was hard. It was scary to leave everything I knew for a completely new culture. It came with culture shock and confusion. But, in the end, the person I’ve become is resilient and equipped to deal with any challenges that may present themselves in the future.
I implore you to take a risk by going abroad – by following a path that interests you. There are language camps, homestays, service trips, for three weeks, three months, six months, even a year. Shape your experience to who you are and whom you want to become.

I see France as a second home, a place I can turn to in a time of need and a place my heart breaks just the same for when they experience terror. I see my host family as my second family; with whom I can laugh, cry and, most importantly, practice French. I see myself as someone more confident, more motivated and more in touch with the problems our global society faces.
Going abroad is a risk, but with all risks come rewards, and there is no greater reward than creating new and meaningful connections. I look back on my time in France and I smile; I hope that you push yourself to try something new and take a risk, and that when it’s over, you have no regrets.