Alumni Spotlight: Sophia Rollins

Sophia is currently in her last year of high school in Seattle Washington, wishing to pursue Marine Biology in the future. She spent her sophomore year in the North of Spain, mastering the language before returning to her beloved city. In her free time, you can find her volunteering at the aquarium, bussing tables at a cafe in her neighborhood and speaking Spanish on the regular.

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Why did you choose this program?

I chose NACEL International to help me along my year abroad because my family has a lot of trust invested in the program. When my mother turned 16, she traveled to France for six months using NACEL, and so she knew the hospitality and companionship this program was able to provide me. Sure enough, I couldn't have done something as impactful as this without the help of my provider and NACEL coordinators.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

NACEL, for me, was a helping hand during my adventure. I received a phone call once a month during my year abroad to make sure everything surrounding my school and home life experience was enjoyable and prosperous. My coordinator helped me get my student visa, and I handled my grades and social life independently.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

If I were to give someone wishing to embark on an adventure similar to mine a piece of advice, I would tell them to live life in the present. Studying abroad is such a privilege, and the incredible individuals you come in contact with on a daily basis won't always be by your side, so don't take them or the experience for granted.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

An average day consists of waking up with your host family and eating a small breakfast, heading to school until lunch time when students are sent home to eat with their families. The afternoon then consists of homework and tutoring, sports, and hanging out with friends until evening when a late dinner is served, and families spend quality time together until bedtime.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear involving my experience was being away from my family for such an extended period of time. However, my process of learning to overcome this fear was short lived. I had the most supportive family who was always there to talk when I felt under the weather, and my studies kept my mind busy.

What is the one most important lesson you've taken away from your year in another country and culture?

The most important quality I acquired from this trip was how to ask for help without fear of judgment. There will always be someone there to help you if you're struggling, all you have to do is ask for it.