Study abroad offers unique opportunities

Brittney Downing – Mustangs Ahead

(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL) – Studying abroad as a high school student can be a great experience. Students can broaden their perspectives when it comes to the world while establishing meaningful relationships and immersing themselves in different cultures.

“I would recommend exchange to others because there is no other experience like it,” said LRHS junior Sydney Hetterich, who is Germany this year. “You will have a year to discover yourself, learn about different cultures, travel and acquire a new language.  The skills you develop here will stay with you for a lifetime.”

There’s a variety of programs available to fit the differing needs of students thinking about studying abroad.

The National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLIY) offers fully-funded summer and academic year programs for studying in various countries in order to learn Chinese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Persian, or Hindi.

YES Abroad offers fully-funded scholarships for students who are interested in spending an academic year in countries with large Muslim populations.

The Congress Bungestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) provides scholarships for those interested in spending an academic year studying in Germany. They cover transportation to and from Washington D.C. for departure and re-entry orientations, any costs necessary for obtaining a passport, and provide some spending money for students to have while in Germany.

Youth for Understanding USA (YFU) offers summer, semester, and academic year programs for studying abroad along with around 200 possible scholarships and some needs-based financial aid.

AFS offers many programs that vary in length and location and also provides some opportunities for scholarships and tuition programs.

CIEE offers semester and academic year programs in Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, and Spain as well as summer programs in even more locations.

OneWorld Now! offers summer study abroad programs for 2016 in locations such as Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Nepal, India, Vietnam, and China along with different countries for their 2017 programs. Scholarships and financial aid opportunities are available.

Studying abroad is not for everyone. It requires a student to leave home and enter a completely different environment.  There are always other opportunities for students to connect with their world, though, including becoming a host family for high school students from other countries who wish to study in the U.S.

Hetterich emphasizes her year in Germany is a once in a lifetime experience.

“My favorite part of the exchange has definitely been the  people that I have met,” she said. “I get to spend time with other exchange students from all over the world, and I am getting to integrate into a whole new culture to meet all of my German friends an