Students seek out new experiences through study abroad program this summer


Mallory Atack

Paige Espeseth, left, and Sophia Awuzie, right, talk about their upcoming summer abroad during the CIEE Family Night Event on Thursday, May 26.

By Mallory Atack, Reporter

Studying abroad is often a large draw for many students applying to college; getting to explore new countries with other students can often be a life-changing experience. However, Lane students don’t have to look further than their own school for this opportunity thanks to the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE).

With over 2,400 American high school students studying abroad this summer, 24 of them are Lane students. According to CIEE coordinator Lauren Marley, CIEE has made a record for the most students participating, both overall and at Lane. Awarding over $5,500,000 in scholarships to students throughout America, CIEE has made it their goal to provide all students with the opportunity to study abroad.

Sophia Awuzie and Paige Espeseth will be studying abroad this summer with Spanish Language and Culture programs, going to Yucatan, Mexico and Barcelona, Spain, respectively. A main draw of studying abroad for many students are the benefits gained from learning a new language. 

“I want to be completely fluent in Spanish,” Awuzie said. “They say if you’re in the culture [or] immersed in the culture for long enough that you’ll pick it up, so I’m just hoping for that to happen.”

However, not all programs are language-based. Another student studying abroad with CIEE this summer is Naomi Verdi, Div. 354. Verdi is participating in the Climate Change and Advocacy program in Copenhagen, Denmark, and hopes that studying abroad will bring out personal growth and learning opportunities.

“This is a completely new place for me and we’re not going to be around anything we know, just [a] completely new culture, so I guess just discovering that side of yourself: how you react, what kind of person you become, is what I’m hoping to learn,” Verdi said.

Past participants found that they had many influential experiences throughout their time abroad. Two of these alumni are Josephine Betts, Div. 351, who participated in the Italian Language and Culture program in Rome, Italy, and Sheila Cronin, Div. 272, who participated in the Spanish Language and Culture program in Seville, Spain.

Not only did the alumni find that the program helped their Spanish/Italian skills, but it taught them to be more confident in themselves. 

“It really pushed me out of my comfort zone, so I had to make new friends quickly, and kind of learn how to be by myself,” Cronin said.

 “I was kind of looking at it as like an experiment, like I’m going to be myself and see how this works and I did great,” Betts said. “So I think being authentic and putting yourself out there, being open minded to new experiences [is important].”

Future participants of the program at Lane came together on Thursday, May 26, with their families to meet others who would be studying abroad, regardless of the different destinations. They were able to discuss the different programs, how they were preparing, and learn from Marley about what to expect. 

The students who would be studying abroad played games, ate pizza and excitedly discussed where they would be going this summer. All of them seemed equally enthusiastic and nervous. Going to Portugal, Spain, Mexico, Denmark, Italy and other places, each student and their family were able to relate and discuss different travel experiences along with the student’s upcoming ones. 

David Silverstein, a French teacher and the CIEE liaison at Lane, is the primary person to contact if studying abroad seems interesting to you. It’s more accessible than many think, considering the large scholarship fund and the support which CIEE provides.

As advice for any future participants, Cronin said, “You have to really push yourself when you do this program. And you do get homesick, you do get scared, but if you try to do things you realize it’s not as scary. As long as you’re open to all these new experiences, new people, you’re gonna be fine.”