Initially I was skeptical of leaving all my friends and my hometown, but eventually the desire for something new and different won out. The Traveling School seemed like a good balance of school and an amazing adventure. The Traveling School enabled me to gain high school credit, while experiencing the culture of Southern Africa, what else could a girl hope for?!
What made this high school abroad experience unique and special?
This isn't a typical study abroad program with a campus and dorms. Class could be on picnic tables in the campground or beneath the shade of a tree at the end of a hike. In addition, you live with your teachers and fellow classmates. You travel in a big blue truck, which becomes like your home, with 12-16 girls across Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. In what other program can you be studying Geology along the banks of the Orange River in the morning, and then have a lecture from a local guide about living through Apartheid in the evening? Or waking up in Kruger to study ecology and then having a language lesson with a native Africaans speaker?
What is one piece of advice you would offer someone considering studying abroad in high school?
While I think traveling abroad in high school is much more difficult than traveling abroad in college, you stand to gain so much more by traveling in high school. Being exposed to a different culture so early in your academic career changes how you view the world. Yes, leaving high school is scary and difficult. But trust me when I say that the experiences you gain will far surpass any amount of homesickness you will feel during the program.
How has this experience impacted your future? (Personally, professionally, etc.).
The Traveling School has impacted me in many ways. First, I become much more comfortable with the idea of traveling thanks to The Traveling School. Since my semester I have traveled by myself and with friends to many corners of the globe. Second, it helped me become impassioned about my studies. Before The Traveling School, I didn't really apply myself in school, but being in such a stimulating and challenging environment made me want to achieve better grades than before. And lastly, I found that I was much more independent and sure of myself after the semester. After I conquered backpacking trips, homesickness, and being challenged mentally for 3 1/2 months, how could I not be?