Experiencing high school abroad

Teenagers outside on bench
Teenagers outside on bench

Experiencing high school abroad

by Emma Bareihs
Stripes Japan

Not too long ago I hopped on a plane to England to start my third high school as a military child. As different as I knew it would be leaving the American public-school system, I didn’t know the extent of the impact the new school would have on me. Although it might be intimidating, if you make the most out of your education abroad, this is what you’ll come to find.

1. Your knowledge on international current events will dramatically expand. Being in the mix of international affairs, you become more prone to reading daily global news.

2. Use your school breaks wisely for travel. When you get the chance to travel, take it! Take advantage of the location you’re in to explore surrounding areas.

3. It’s a perfect opportunity to learn a new language. Immerse yourself in the geographic region you reside in to learn a new language that you can practice in the community around you.

4. The sports are going to be slightly different. Forget the American football tailgate traditions. Depending on where you are, the high school sporting events are going to be a little different. Learn new sports to watch alongside your peers.

5. It is a hands-on learning experience. You have thousands of years of history right around the corner. Instead of quickly grazing over a textbook, you will be able to walk the steps that our ancestors once took, an opportunity to be thankful for.

6. You have better geography skills and know so many more flags. To some people, knowing the geography of the USA is hard, but soon enough you will know the ins and outs of the geography of Pacific and know what many more flags represent.

7. Expand your palette while you’re young. Most people have a change in their tastes as they age. Being around new local foods and other cultural cuisines, it is easy to want to try new foods and expand your palette.

8. You become more aware of your surroundings. Depending on if you’re walking, taking public transportation or minding your own business, your awareness increases and you find yourself picking up on security red flags more than you used to.

9. Security is taken seriously. According to your location, security measures are going to be a lot more extreme than the average American public school.

10. Colleges like to see international students, take advantage of it. Your college process will be a little different than the average American high school senior. Use your high school experience to show off a different side of you.

11. This is your opportunity to create a personally unique story. Experiencing high school in another country is a scenario that most people will never take part of. Now, it is a narrative for you to tell.

12. You will have a new external view of America and Americans. When you’re not surrounded by American’s daily, you begin to develop an outside view of the country as a whole and the people who live in it, as you start to adapt to the international lifestyle.

13. Your gratitude grows for the people around you. The opportunities around you wouldn’t have been made possible if it weren’t for the people around you. Expressing your gratitude for your parents or others that make living abroad an opportunity for you becomes more important.

14. Your identity becomes more complex. By living abroad, traveling often, interacting with new cultures and more, your own identity starts to shift and expand to someone you didn’t know you could be.

Experiencing high school in a new country can be daunting, but in the end the opportunities and life skills you gain from traveling and learning new languages builds your character and helps you become a worldly person. Make the most out of your high school abroad period to grow as a student.   

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