Bellaire High School Students Study Abroad to Expand Their Horizons
Every year, over 300,000 American students take a chance and study abroad. Whether it be for three weeks, a month, or even a year, leaving home to travel solo to a foreign country can be anxiety-inducing. However, there are many advantages to studying abroad. Students stand to make lifelong friends, find new interests, and learn about different cultures. Other benefits include a standout feature on college applications and an opportunity to hone language skills. I spoke with three Bellaire students who studied abroad for varied periods of time, to get a clear idea of what it’s like.
First, I sat down with senior Simon Baek. Simon visited Beijing, China for three weeks. “I went with the company CIEE under the Building Sustainable Megacities Program,” Baek said. “I have had an interest in environmental science for a long time, so when I saw a program about sustainability I was very drawn to it. I also have always wanted to go to China because of the culture and the food. When we were in Beijing, we had a schedule. In the mornings we went to our classes, where we learned about environmental issues in China and communications between different cultures. In the afternoons, we had lunch and went on our daily field trips. For our program, we had a research project. We compared the environmental issues of another country to China’s environmental issues and gave a presentation on that. It was a lifechanging experience.”
Next, I decided to ask senior Reagan Kimzey about her experience. Reagan went to India for 15 days, also with the company CIEE. “I went to India to work with an NGO called Voice4Girls,” Kimzey said. “They run camps led by Indian teachers with girls from low-cost private schools to help better their English and teach them about female hygiene and reproductive health. I’m super passionate about female empowerment, so I thought this would be right up my alley. Unfortunately, the camps got canceled because it was too hot outside, so instead, we visited a school and helped children learn English. This frustrated me, because I hoped to make a bigger impact and help these girls in a meaningful way, but I tried to make the best of it. Every day, I would wake up at 6 o’clock and do yoga outside. Then, I would go for breakfast in the dorm. After that, I collaborated with the other girls I was working with to come up with a lesson plan for the day. After teaching, we had dinner and chilled in the dorms. The people who were on the program with me were amazing. They are unlike anyone else I know. Living with them in India for three weeks created a unique bond between us. The biggest thing I took away from this experience is that the world is way too big for us to get caught up in the petty details of our lives. We forget there is more to focus on in life. According to one of my Indian mentors, the mindset in India is more communal and less selfish: more we than I. That is something I will always remember.”
And finally, I asked junior Alex Eusher about his study abroad experience. “I studied with Rotary International for a little over ten months,” Eusher said. “I heard about this opportunity from my grandparents, who are involved with the program. I studied in France. I really enjoyed the freedom and independence I had. I would definitely do it again.”
Evidently, studying abroad offers many transformative experiences. Whether you have wanted to study abroad for years or have never considered it, I hope this gave you some insight into what it is truly like.
Want more buzz like this? Sign up for our Morning Buzz emails.
To leave a comment, please log in or create an account with The Buzz Magazines, Disqus, Facebook, Twitter or Google+. Or you may post as a guest.