Travel Abroad While You’re Still in High School
The world becomes more connected every day, which means it’s never been more important—or easier—to travel abroad.
There are a lot of ways to make that happen. You could take a two-week trip to France with the French club or spend spring break in Italy with your family. Maybe you’ll spend your entire junior year of high school in South America as an exchange student. Or perhaps you’ll head to Africa with your church group to build sustainable houses. Here are a few things to consider when choosing where to go.
If you’re studying a foreign language in school, it makes sense to visit that country. Not only would you truly immerse yourself in the culture, but also you’d become even more fluent. Even a week in Mexico can improve your Spanish and help you see firsthand the difference between a siesta and a fiesta!
Health & Safety
Some countries should be completely off-limits due to security concerns such as kidnappings, terrorist violence and civil war. The U.S. Department of State lists its recommendations regarding travel on its website. These could include warnings and alerts for things you may not have considered or would not otherwise know about, including unstable governments; an election that is likely to cause many strikes; natural disasters; or ongoing, intense crime. Sudden disease outbreaks and even poor air quality can put you at risk for illness, so be sure to do your research before confirming your plans.
Many colleges offer courses for things such as foreign language credits, and almost all are impressed with time spent abroad—especially through volunteer programs that help the less fortunate or demonstrate your pursuit of a certain career path.
Although it may not be feasible to spend a month exploring Europe, there are other ways to travel inexpensively and sometimes even free.
There are study abroad scholarships available if you know where to look. Start by asking your guidance counselor, doing a Google search and checking with nonprofit organizations such as the Rotary Club or Girl Scouts. Some study abroad programs offer scholarships and grants for students headed to specific countries or engaging in certain activities while they’re abroad.
Many study abroad programs offer home stays. These are exactly what they sound like:You stay in a family’s home. You’ll typically eat with the family and possibly attend school with their teenager(s), taking the worry of finding food and shelter off your shoulders (and budget).
If you don’t go through a volunteer program or exchange-student program, consider staying with a friend or family member who lives in a foreign country.
Whichever route you choose, you can come up with some creative fundraising ideas to help pay for your trip: a car wash, bake sale, yard sale, 5K or a combination of any or all of the above. You could also get a part-time job or ask local businesses to sponsor your trip. Be creative! Don’t let money be the roadblock to your chance at studying abroad. You already have your work cut out for you trying to convince Mom to let you go!