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Around the World in Nine Months

While it may seem easy to become trapped in the Deerfield bubble, seven current students studied abroad last year. Daniel Rivera ’13 went to Switzerland, Zoe Perot ’12 traveled to the Netherlands, Annie Klink ’13 visited Jordan, while seniors Megan Foster, Veronica Houk, Emma McGrath, and Christina Sheehan went to China.

Sheehan traveled to Beijing where she stayed with a host family, experiencing Chinese home life and culture. At school, she took regular classes such as math and English. The Chinese classes, however, were particularly difficult, since her teacher was not lenient on speaking English.

“The teachers were very strict about speaking Chinese. Even when asking how to say a word, we had to ask in Chinese [except for the word],” added Sheehan.

Outside of school, Sheehan immersed herself in the culture, bargaining at markets, creating a badminton club at her public high school, and spending Friday afternoons with her local Chinese schoolmates to talk about life in America. “The whole year’s journey was such a great change from the Western perspective I had. I definitely recommend studying abroad to anyone, whether they speak the language or not,” Sheehan reflected.

Meanwhile, Rivera traveled to Switzerland and, although his class schedule was similar to that of Deerfield’s, his day included many outdoor activities such as hiking or skiing in the afternoon. “Multilingual is definitely one word I would use to describe Switzerland,” he remarked. “I heard so many languages, from German to French to Italian. It really showed me how big the world is, and how much of it we are missing.”

One teacher had the eye- opening experience of studying abroad too. English teacher Heather Liske went to France for SYA in her senior year of high school. “The year definitely made me fluent in French. When I lived in Morocco two years ago, I spoke French all year and I have SYA to thank for that,” remembered Ms. Liske.

While delving into uncertain and adjusting to a different home may seem intimidating and frightening, those who have studied abroad say the experience is completely worthwhile. Ms. Liske explained, “I would recommend the program for many reasons, one being that when you are studying abroad, you are pushing yourself to the unknown. You learn the most when you’re in the most uncomfortable situations.”