How does your organization differ from other ones in the industry?
Grace: SOL has heart and soul in their programs. The on-site directors love their countries and simply want you to become part of their world, the host families love you like you are one of their own children, and the academics are unbeatable. Above all else, the price of SOL is not only the most affordable option to study abroad, but includes so much! It’s very common that it’s cheaper for students to study abroad, than to study at their home university here in the states.
What is one thing you would tell any future participant?
Grace: Don’t hold back. Studying abroad was the best decision of my undergraduate studies. Go study abroad for as long as you can, as many times possible, and immerse yourself in a new culture and language. Seeing the world changes your perspective and opens you up to an entirely new world; learning a language allows you to connect with people that you would otherwise never be able to have a conversation with and learn from.
What is the level of cultural immersion your participants receive?
Grace: SOL’s programs focus on the immersion process for students learning Spanish. As such, everything is planned out to immerse the students in both the formal setting of a classroom as well as informal settings. For example, at our program in Argentina we have a cultural activity students participate in once or twice a week called Mate Club. Mate, a traditional drink of Argentina (much like tea), is shared between the SOL students and local Argentine university students for intercambio.
This intercambio is a language exchange for the Argentine students wanting to learn English and the SOL students practicing their Spanish. Cultural activities like this immerse students deeper into a richer and more real culture of Argentina. Students also live with host families, take Spanish classes, and on-site directors speak to students in Spanish. So, Sol students are constantly immersed in the language as well.
How does going on a gap year with Sol Education Abroad prepare young people for college?
Grace: A gap year between high school and college can benefit a student in numerous ways! Studying abroad provides any aged student an experience unlike any other experience they will encounter in their life. Whether it be a new found freedom or being immersed in another culture than that which they grew up in, studying abroad provides students with a new sense of self, a more independent individual, and even a greater drive in work ethic. There is very little opportunity to procrastinate, slack off, or be lazy while studying abroad if the student is craving an unforgettable experience. Studying abroad before college offers students a clearer direction in life, greater self-confidence, and cultural awareness that is hard to obtain in high school.