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How High School Study Abroad Shapes You

On this #TravelTuesday, we get to hear from one of our former students, Olivia, who participated in a semester exchange in Norway in 2015 with Aspect Foundation! Olivia is currently a senior at American University in D.C. studying international relations. She has studied abroad three times since her exchange with Aspect and has just started an internship with our Outbound program! Below she shares her perspective on the impact cultural exchange can have on your future and why everyone should consider studying abroad, especially in high school!


It has been a little over three years since I first arrived in my host country to study abroad for a semester in high school. Before I left I had no idea how much those five months would shape and change the rest of my life.

Studying abroad in high school allowed me to find out what my interests are. I studied abroad in the first semester of my senior year, so I was in the midst of applying for colleges and deciding on a major. When I first arrived in my host country I could tell right away that I enjoyed interacting with people from other countries and learning about different cultures. I began applying to well known international relations programs all over the US.

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Olivia with her host family

Studying abroad in high school allowed me to get accepted into an amazing college. Not only was I accepted into American University in DC, which is one of the best schools for international relations and was just named the “Most Politically Active School” in the country, but I was accepted into their three-year program. In high school, I had good academics but very few extracurriculars. I believe that without studying abroad in high school I would not have gotten accepted into AU.

Studying abroad in high school improved my academics. There are thousands of studies that prove that studying abroad improves comprehension skills. It can also help increase your GPA. Studying abroad allows you to work through so many different types of difficulties. Looking into the future I know that studying abroad can lead to more job opportunities (hey, it allowed me to get this awesome internship with Aspect!) and can help me obtain a higher paying job right out of college.

Studying abroad in high school taught me how to cope with difficulties. Leaving your family and everything you know for an extended period of time can be really difficult. You have to deal with culture shock and homesickness. Then you have to leave this new place you fell in love with and experience reverse homesickness. It is really difficult to explain homesickness to someone who has never felt it but learning to cope and overcome it makes a person stronger. It makes it easier to go to college in the future.

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Olivia with friends from Norway

Not only does studying abroad shape you but it also shapes your view of the world. Living in a time where technology makes the world seem small you still can’t experience everything from behind your phone or laptop. You can read about how healthy Norwegians are but it is only after you lived with Norwegians that you realize one of the reasons for this is because all Norwegians have such easy access to nature.

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The view from a hike with her host family in Norway

You can study abroad one time or you can study abroad 5 times. I believe that my high school study abroad was more impactful than the times I studied abroad in college. Studying abroad in high school at such an early age has shaped and changed my life. I fell in love with my host country. The friends I met at my high school are some of my closest friends whom I speak to every day. Aspect Foundation helped me not only find out what I wanted to study but what I want to do for work after college. I would not be who I am today without studying abroad in high school three years ago!


Don’t miss out! See first-hand the impact Olivia references by studying abroad this spring! Learn more by clicking below:

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