High. School. Study Abroad. Sounds pretty stuffy, huh? Like, I don’t know, it doesn’t even really capture all of the amazing things that can
happen when you take a few weeks to travel abroad as a teen. Maybe we should call it: Ensuring Your Facebook Memories Will Never
be Shameful. Proving that All Travel Rom-coms Pale in Comparison
to the REAL DEAL. Making Future Travel Buds 4 Life. Realizing How Hard Life Without Mom Doing My Laundry is… Case in point, high school study abroad is
a pretty awesome experience. And one we’d recommend to just about any
teen with an eye towards the world. So we’re here to answer ALL of your FAQs
about high school study abroad. And tell you a little bit about our own experiences
as modern globetrotters. I’m Gabriella Comp, I’m graduating in
2020 and I went on a service learning trip to Ecuador for 11 days. Hi, I’m Michael, I graduated in 2017 and I traveled abroad to Brazil in high school. My name is Maria Peden, I’m graduating in the year 2021 and I’ve been to 38 countries in Asia, Australia, North America, and Europe. I’m Erin and I actually spent the summer between my junior and senior year of high school in New Zealand. Because if we can do it, you can do it too. So, how do you FIND high school study abroad
programs anyway? We got a lot of stuff in the mail. Like, a lot. There were dozens of brochures, all with amazing
photos that I was just DYING to take myself. I didn’t even know people still made catalogs?
But here they were, stuffing our mailbox. And, I had a couple people come talk to us
in class at my high school. They were really, really cool, and definitely
inspired my wanderlust. So, (then) we hit the interwebs! Yeah, I went online and compared all of the different programs. I checked out their websites and DUH, their Instagram accounts. Once I started sifting through the bells and whistles, I really zeroed-in on some pretty awesome experiences. Reviews definitely helped me understand the differences and find *the one.* What kinds of high school study abroad programs
are there? There are LOADS of awesome programs out there. I was almost overwhelmed by all of the options. There’s teen volunteer abroad—
great for understanding the complexities of the world, doing some good while and having some fun, while checking off those community service hours. Then there’s cultural immersion programs, which focus on getting you up close and personal with your host culture. If you never thought you’d learn the Haka… Think again! (I’m not super great at it…) Language immersion programs, because, let’s face it, Seniorita Porta is awesome, but a couple hours of Spanish a week just isn’t gonna cut it. There are homestay programs, gap year programs, GAP YE-AH! Outdoor education programs full of trekking
and camping. And, you can even find short term jobs abroad for teens. But, I guess the program I did ended up being a little combo of all of these. When I was in Brazil in high school I studied Portuguese everyday at a Portuguese language academy. My trip to Ecuador was a very rewarding volunteer trip that also allowed me to really enjoy myself. I’ve volunteered in Jamaica, Costa Rica, and the Philippines. I did get to live with a homestay. I still keep in touch with my host family,
they’re incredible, and I would really recommend opting into a
program with a homestay option. Tu t’es bom! How long are high school study abroad programs? Most of my friends travel in the summertime. Especially if they, like, play basketball or do other extra-curriculars. Summer is a really awesome time to travel. You can go abroad for just a couple weeks in summer, you can take your whole summer. Usually, programs start in June and run through July or August. You’d have to double check though. And they go everywhere! And, if you’re a super [email protected]$%, you can do a high school exchange or full year program, where you’re actually enrolling in a foreign high school. These are pretty hardcore, but if you’re gungho to truly be immersed and live abroad, they’re probably the right path. I know I spent a summer abroad and I wish that I could’ve spent a semester or a whole year. Getting buy-in from your parents is prrreeeettttty essential when it comes to traveling as a
teenager. So how do you actually do it? Make an in-depth powerpoint presentation. It sounds really nerdy, but it works! I did
it. Write a formal letter? (Worked for me!) Compile a list of your favorite celebrities and world leaders who ALSO studied abroad. You know, like the Pope. Last, but not least. If all else fails, you can always get on your hands and knees and… beg them. No, in actuality, our best advice for getting mom and dad on board is to be transparent with your goals. Ok, wait—the first step is to actually have
goals. And not like, frilly ones, like petting a
koala or having a lit Snapchat. (But let’s face it, that’s definitely
going to happen). But, serious goals, like you want to check
out this type of work as a potential career path. Show them how you plan to connect your travels to bigger picture goals. We’re talkin’ ‘bout college! C O L L E G E. This is a great time to show them and tell them that having study abroad experience in high school looks DOPE on college applications.
It basically writes your admissions essays for you! It’s also important that you invite your parents into the planning process. They want to be involved and support you, so let ’em! Because, you know, they’re
your biggest fans. They want you to succeed and they want what’s
best for you in life. How did you pay for it? My mom and dad definitely had to help me out. Shout out to Poppenheim [my dad] for helping
me pay for my high school study abroad experience. YOU DA BEST! Well, for my trip, I used a FundMyTravel account. Through which I raise $1,500 to pay for my airfare. Do you want to—and you should—apply for
scholarships and grants. And, hopefully get some of that cold hard
cash so it’s more affordable for you to go abroad! Have you had any positive reactions? Yeah. A lot. Yes. Almost everybody I meet. In fact, bragging is probably my favorite thing to do when I come back home from a trip. It was pretty fun to surprise my family and friends with the news that I was going to travel. They all loved it and were super happy for
me. There were…My teachers, my parents, my friends’ parents, people from my church, guidance counselors,
college advisors, employers— I can only assume future employers are going to be really stoked to see that I’ve had this experience— Steph Curry, college admissions recruiters, my volleyball coach, my piano teacher, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker, my band director, my grandma, Kimmy Schmidt—actually, believe it or not, my uncle, (and) Barack-freaking-Obama. I’m just kidding, I wish!
Barack, if you’re watching this… I love you and I hope you’re impressed that
I studied abroad. What about FOMO? Pffffft. What about it? I mean, okay.
So, it is tough to be away from your friends for a whole summer and that was probably one of the hardest parts for me. But, it was still sooo worth it. Studying abroad for a few weeks may feel like dog years in time away from friends,
but it’s only a few weeks. Plus, not that you don’t have super cool
friends, but like, you’ll survive without them and probably won’t miss them NEARLY
as much as you think you will. (Sorry, Becky, it’s just true! Still luv
u tho.) And, FOMO is in all in your head!
There’s going to be be plenty of things to do, and parking lots to hang out in, and
Snapchat streaks to start over when you return. Plus… You can start NEW snapchat streaks
with your study abroad buds! SNAPCHAT STREAKS ACROSS OCEANS. I did miss catching up with my friends all the time but putting down my phone and just enjoying the trip was completely worth it. Here’s the big Q— Would you do it again? ABSOLUTELY. I would absolutely do it again.
In fact, I would sign back up in a heartbeat. Yeah! I would do it again.
It was awesome! I had a great time, learned a ton about Brazil
and myself as a person. I’d recommend it to anyone. The memories I made and the experiences I had just can’t be had back home. It solidified so much of where I want to go in life, and I wouldn’t have known that had I not studied abroad in high school. (The Spark Notes) It’s AWESOME! Do it. And, if you don’t do it you might regret it. And it’s really not as scary as it sounds. It’s actually something I’m really passionate about, and want to inspire other people to go abroad— just like you!