Interview With A High School ‘RunAway’
Emily and I went to the same high school in New York together. She is one of the coolest girls I’ve ever met. When she was 15, she decided to take life into her own hands. She first did a high school exchange to the Netherlands. She has since traveled extensively from Europe to Africa. When it comes to running away in high school, she knows more about it than most.
Here’s what she has to say:
1) What inspired you to go abroad during high school?
I was inspired to travel abroad during high school because, well, I hated high school. I didn’t feel that I fit in at Tappan Zee. When I was about 13, my mom took my brother and me on a backpacking trip through Europe. We were there for three weeks, and I wanted to go back. I found the AFS program, and became the first TZ High School student to spend a year abroad.
2) What program did you go through and how hard was it to sign up?
American Field Service was a well organized program, and fairly easy to navigate. My brother went to New Zealand through AFS a few years later. It is still an active program, but I have not remained involved with it.
3) How did you afford the program costs?
Fortunately, my family was able to help me out with the program costs. I also had babysitting money saved for personal expenses.
4) What was life like as a high school student in a foreign country?
Life as a high school student in Holland was amazing. I was given a lot of freedom and choice. I took classes in Dutch, economics, art, and more. I enjoyed getting to know the other students, and ended up falling in love with a classmate – my first girlfriend!
5) What advice would you give to someone looking to do the same?
I would highly recommend traveling abroad as a young person. AFS was a great program to go through. Studying abroad in high school offers fresh perspectives, and for me, instilled the desire to keep traveling. I spent a semester in South Africa in college, and later traveled to Ghana, Kenya, through South America, and just returned from a semester of law school in England.
Although I loved my high school experience in the Netherlands, in hindsight, I may have chosen a different country – one more culturally distinct from the United States, and with a language that I could use, such as Spanish or Chinese.