Meet Gardner - SYA France 2019




Extracurriculars Abroad: Squash and Yearbook
Favorite SYA Class: History
Favorite Food in France: Baguettes 

How did you come to the decision to attend SYA?

I was referred by past alums. Their words were the most influential in my decision. Without them, I might not have come. In addition, however, there were lots of opportunities offered at SYA which were not available at my home school. For example, travel, immersion in a culture, and learning a language first hand.

What did you learn in your year abroad that surprised you?

I learned that the differences between the U.S. and France are minute. The largest differences had to be the small things like plug outlets, no tipping at restaurants, separate bathroom rooms, and how many things are just generally smaller.

Do you have a particularly special host family moment?

My host family was the most amazing thing there was for me while doing SYA. We went on multiple day trips that were the highlights of my experience abroad. I loved making them happy and maybe telling a joke to add some humor to their day.

At SYA, the curriculum lives in and outside the classroom, what memorable educational experience did you have outside the classroom?

I have to say all of the trips had a profound impact on me, but Paris was the best. I learned so much about the country I was in while also seriously strengthening bonds with my friends.

How was your education at SYA different than at your high school?

I would start by saying that everything was in French! Besides that, the teachers are excellent at keeping the class at the right difficulty. In the beginning of the year, the workload was a lot lighter compared to the end. However, this was proportional to our level of proficiency in French so it was always a perfect challenge.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering SYA?

I would repeat the words of [former SYA Head of Schools and Programs] Aric Visser, “Forget that home even exists”. Stay present, and don't think about where you aren't. Otherwise, you will not profit from your year abroad.

How did your year abroad change you?

I was challenged tremendously with doing things on my own. Talking to people I didn't know, all alone, in a foreign language. Improving these social skills was the reason I came to SYA, and I am very proud that I was able to reach my goal.

How did SYA impact your college application process?

All the things I've seen, heard, and done will seriously help me stand out among the applicants. I have been well-versed and my mind has been expanded from this year. This is what colleges are looking for in their applicants.

What life skills do you feel like you learned while at SYA?

Independence, and talking with strangers are the two biggest ones. Aside from that, many little things like navigating the metro, using the buses, and French table manners.


To learn more about SYA France, check out the France Campus page.