Meet NINA - SYA France 2022
How did you come to the decision to attend SYA?
I always knew that I wanted to study abroad, but I didn’t know that it was possible to do in high school. So when I found SYA, I was thrilled that I could live my dream even sooner.
What did you learn in your semester abroad that surprised you?
So much! But most of all, I learned how to navigate new situations by myself, not to mention in another language. I feel unexpectedly comfortable in so many different kinds of places, whether it’s walking into an admissions interview or a doctor’s office.
Do you have a particularly special host family moment?
Almost every night, my host mom and I would hang out on the couch and get so carried away chatting that I would get to bed way too late. Sleep can be made up later, but there is only so much time you can spend with your host family.
At SYA, the curriculum lives in and outside the classroom, what memorable educational experience did you have outside the classroom?
Honestly, I felt like every time I had a conversation I learned new vocabulary, phrases, sayings, etc. I could spend a Sunday lazing around on the couch all day and I would still feel like my brain, at least, was getting a good workout from hearing new words on the news or learning proper pronunciation from my host dad.
How was your education at SYA different than at your high school?
There is nothing like sitting in a room with 70 other people and thinking, “wow, these are the coolest people ever.” At SYA, I felt like that all the time. All of us chose to be there and to learn in a new way, and it really showed.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering SYA?
It’s not for everyone, and it’s not just jet setting around Europe. I do have so many amazing memories from the travels we did as a group, but the vast majority of the program is centered around building a life for yourself abroad. It’s not all easy or glamorous, but the moments I miss the most are the simple ones, like walking home from school with friends and helping out my host mom in the kitchen.
How did your year abroad change you?
I am so much more outgoing now! After jumping into an environment where I didn’t know anyone, nor many of the cultural norms and language, I had to break out of my (small) comfort zone. As a result, even now I feel much more at ease in almost any social situation.
How did SYA impact your college application process?
I attended SYA as a senior, so I actually applied to colleges from France. I found that being in France actually took a lot of the stress out of the process: I had enough time to work on applications, but unlike at my home school, it wasn’t my sole focus. Plus, once I submitted the applications, I felt less stress about my grades and I was able to relax and enjoy my time in France to the fullest!
What life skills do you feel like you learned while at SYA?
Besides how amazing it feels to be fluent in another language, I think one of the most important skills I gained is openness. Being open to adapt to another family’s customs, to learn in a new way, to try and be wrong and try again.
Do you have any additional experiences, memories, or suggestions you would like to share?
Take advantage of independent travel! France has a lot to offer and seeing it with your friends by your side is an experience like no other. That being said: just because you are best friends with someone in math class, say, does not mean you will be good travel partners. Learning to compromise, handle unexpected circumstances, and navigate new places can be stressful, but in the end it will only deepen your friendships.