The Sage Publication is the student news site of Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad, CA

The Sage

The Sage Publication is the student news site of Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad, CA

The Sage

The Sage Publication is the student news site of Sage Creek High School in Carlsbad, CA

The Sage

Students Should Be Required to Study Abroad

Photo taken from CrazyEgg
Students that travel abroad have many options of where they can study. Many have chosen specific places all over the world that offer the best education for their specific topic of study or future career path.

A fourteen-hour flight?

Uncomfortable plane seats and unappetizing airport food?

Traveling without your family for the first time?

All of these describe the experience of a student traveling to another country to study abroad. The idea doesn’t sound extremely appealing at first, especially when one considers that when this hypothetical student finally reaches their destination, they’ll be greeted by unfamiliar faces, unfamiliar sights and an unfamiliar bed to sleep in.

Yet behind the veil of initial terror, lies the experience of a lifetime. For years, students have returned from foreign countries, bursting to regale their family with tales of their time abroad. This enthusiasm for life, for discovery, for something new, is exactly why all students should be required to study abroad in high school.

The word “required,” carries, I realize, intense undertones of foreboding finality, but when the benefits of studying in a foreign country are considered, it begs the question as to why studying abroad isn’t already a mandatory high school activity.

Photo taken from TripSavvy
For a student traveling abroad, the long flight to another country is the nerve-wracking start of an amazing journey. Thanks to the stories of returning students, however, many have taken the risk to explore the world and embarked on the life-changing adventure.

It is widely known that teenagers have a reputation of being very short-sighted, or selfish. They attend high school, where they spend most of their time and see the same faces every day. Their life, in a way, revolves around themselves, their school, and the people in it.  To most students, high school is the whole world right now, and not much of the actual world beyond it is visible. Despite the efforts of teachers and parents, students struggle to understand themselves and their place in the world when they haven’t experienced it for themselves. What better way to expose them to the world in a safe, integrative way, then to send them to study abroad?

According to School Year Abroad, a program that places students in foreign schools and countries for a year, studying in another country gives teens “the opportunity to better understand world politics, to grasp pressing socioeconomic concepts and to [become] informed citizens of the world.”

Students learn to look beyond their high school bubble and see the actual world, as well as how to function in it. Long gone are the trivial concerns of high school, now replaced with a broader perspective of global issues. The stifling social anxiety surrounding all things “teen,” is replaced with a mature, adult confidence that gives students the courage to converse with new people, involve themselves in new things and make the most out of every situation that comes their way.

Photo by Emilie Anderson
Austrian exchange student, Felix Müller, stands for a photo before he heads off to school with his American host-sister, Emilie Anderson. Müller and the rest of his Austrian classmates have already met many new friends at their host sibling’s American high school.

This confidence comes from “finding oneself,” a common expression many travelers have used when describing the purpose of their adventures. In this case, it rings true.

Forbes, a media company and magazine, claims that learning in another country “changes the way high schoolers interact with the world” and “requires [them] to undertake more ‘grown-up’ challenges, such as… how to be self-sufficient, manage money, solve problems, network, plan and organize.”

Students are forced to learn how to take care of themselves, and what it’s like to be on their own— an extremely important skill that proves itself vital not only in college but throughout their life. They are given the opportunity to make independent decisions, without the influence of family, allowing them to ‘find themselves’ and return home with a clearer idea of who they are and where their interests lie— often revealing a possible college major or career choice to explore.

Beyond fending for themselves, students also learn what it’s like to fully immerse themselves in another culture and live like a local. They are exposed to new traditions and behaviors, and experience differences between their home country and their host country, both big and small.

Photo by Emilie Anderson
Enjoying the sun, Müller pets his host family’s dog during a weekend sailing trip. Soaking in the sun, he enjoyed his time on the water.

Felix Müller— one of the Austrian exchange student that visited Sage Creek High School— described his experience in America, highlighting the differences between his home country and the land of the free: “America is beautiful, and I’ve made many friends. In Austria, we don’t have a beach, and the food is different.”

The ‘new friends,’ that Müller mentions shines a light on another major perk of studying abroad— making foreign connections. Meeting new people around the world not only leads to lasting friendships but also serves as networking for future career possibilities. The ability to reach out to people in foreign countries and unite for career purposes, or adapt to new situations (such as living in a new country with a new culture) is something many colleges and employers look highly upon and would consider an advantage on a resume or application.

One student abroad program, Greenheart, explains that once students study abroad, “[they’ll] be inspired to seek out more new and different experiences, like volunteer trips, internships, discovering new places and meeting new people.”

Photo by Emilie Anderson
Müller and his host family smile after coincidentally meeting another Austrian exchange student visiting Sage Creek High School. Both host families had the same idea to show their exchange students the unique Sunny Jim cave that lies underneath the La Jolla Cave Store.

This thirst for adventure and discovery is something that colleges and employers recognize as unique to students that have traveled, and usually, value highly when searching through a pool of applicants— providing a leg up to those who have studied abroad.

Despite all of these advantages, both personal and professional, many still hesitate to become an exchange student or send their child to another country. When thinking of possible obstacles to studying abroad, the largest one is obvious: price.

Most programs ask for some sort of compensation, and for most families— with the price of college looming in the near future— sending their child on what seems like a glorified vacation seems like a waste of time and money. However, it doesn’t have to be.

Hundreds of scholarships specifically for studying abroad are available for students and can lessen the price of traveling or entirely cover the experience. In addition, students being required by schools to study in a foreign country may also open a discussion of possibly fundraising in order for schools to provide students with the funds needed to study abroad instead of leaving the responsibility of rummaging up the money solely on the student and their family. In truth, multitudes of money saving tips are out there for students to utilize, as long as one doesn’t mind a little research.

Photo by Emilie Anderson
A letter from Müller sums up his experiences with his host family. Upon returning to Austria, he couldn’t wait to tell his friends and family about his time in America.

As for wasting time by choosing to study abroad, or worrying that a student’s travels may end up as a ‘vacation’ more than an ‘education’, the advantages previously mentioned make it clear that the skills gained while studying abroad will serve students throughout their entire lives, and will aid them in the process of growing into mature, educated and worldly scholars.

The time to study abroad is now, while students are young and impressionable, and when they should be pushed to form opinions on the world from their own experience, rather than from the loudly stated, and poorly researched, opinion of a random sophomore boy in the middle of English class.

When asked if he would recommend his experience abroad to other students, Müller stated, “Of course, it was a lot of fun, and I learned a lot.” He finished by encouraging students to travel like he did to “see other countries and other cultures.”

The following Thursday afternoon, Müller departed back to Austria. Like many exchange students, he returned with new friends, new memories and most importantly— a new perspective.

View Comments (9)

Comments (9)

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  • W

    Wesley EstesMay 23, 2019 at 10:04 am

    One of your main points seems to be that studying abroad would allow you to experience new cultures. That sounds great and all, but I’m not really seeing how this pertains to college. If that is what your aiming to experience, then maybe investing in traveling and vacation would work better?
    Studying abroad sounds less of a great idea if you consider the countless opportunities for secondary education that our country has. The United States is home to the world’s most prestigious colleges in the world. Standford, Harvard, Princeton, Yale… I could go on. That being said I just don’t see the practical reasoning behind studying abroad.
    Cost is also an obvious barrier. College is already expensive here in America. I’d imagine you’d be in even more of a financial strain if you add long distance travel expenses to your ledger. Just saying.

  • M

    MattMay 23, 2019 at 8:09 am

    This would be a waste of time and money. Not to mention, questionable. Forcing kids to hop into airplanes to go into another country they have no idea about in terms of culture, currency and the way it runs would be a complete logistical nightmare. Not to mention how much of a money-pit it would eventually become in terms of plane tickets and compensation of accidents and/or death overseas.

  • M

    Max WIgginsMay 21, 2019 at 12:11 pm

    sounds like involuntary globalism

  • J

    JohnMay 20, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    I dont know if you know this but there is a thing called money. You need it to pay for things and some people dont have a lot of this so I dont know where you got the idea that students should be required to travel abroad. Some kids would not even want to do this so a school would have to force kids to do even more things that they dont want to do. And Sage Creek does not even have the money to hire good teachers so how are they going to get the money to get kids to travel. More money that the taxpayer has to pay to go to schools that are not even giving a good education. And no one wants to donate to Sage Creek, just rich parents that want to look good in front of other parents. And what if a kids grades are not that good. Generally, people with less money have worse grades than kids with more money. Why would a kid with bad grades get a scolarship. So kids with bad grades and low amounts of money will be forced to take out loans because of a school that forces kids to travel. And how is Sage Creek supposed to make sure kids are going to school. Kids alos need a place to be, how is Sage Creek going to organize that. THEY CANT. You are calling random 10th graders in english class uninformed when this article is extremely uninformed. And why a random 10th grader? Do you hold some sort of vendetta against 10th graders in english class? Overall, well written article.

  • A

    anselMay 20, 2019 at 1:12 pm

    You do realize that if the students were forced to study abroad the organizations providing scholarships for the out of country study would not have enough for the entire nation to study abroad. It is not free. The money has to come from somewhere. Weather that be the government or through fundraising as you said, the money will always be coming directly or indirectly from yours, or your families pocket. That might be through taxes or through fundraising (in which you would be paying for yours AND other people’s families). Price is not a problem you can get around.

  • A

    Alex EstesMay 20, 2019 at 12:47 pm

    Hey man not everyone can afford it

  • C

    ConnorMay 20, 2019 at 12:37 pm

    Ok let’s see uhhhhh… 10,000 dollars/student is a good low estimate for a one year study abroad right? So um if you take this and multiply by the number of high school freshmen enrolling here: you get about oh, I don’t know, maybe like 40 BILLION dollars? And, y’know, doesn’t that seem a little high, considering that is about SIXTY-SIX percent of the annual education budget? ( This whole concept collapses when you consider how expensive it is to send an entire generation abroad. Additionally, if everyone was required to study abroad, nobody is going to have a competitive edge in applying for jobs, college, scholarships, etc.

  • D

    Darius RahmanianMay 20, 2019 at 11:36 am

    No, no they shouldn’t. The sheer economic and logistical nightmare that would be. The US school system already blows so much money on useless things. The reason why organizations exist to allow for students the opportunity is because public schools cant even afford to give their students nutritious meals. Besides Sage Creek is a rich school in a rich school district, so try pitching this to a mid western high school with a proportionally smaller budget and then requiring them to engage in such financially draining activities. This article should be named why YOU should study abroad.

  • N

    Nikita OvchinnikovMay 20, 2019 at 11:09 am

    I like the idea, but I feel like it should just be an bigger option, as it’s hard to find programs that can help us do this.