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The student news site of Lake Forest Academy

The Spectator

The student news site of Lake Forest Academy

The Spectator

Opportunities for School Year Abroad at LFA

Photo by Gray Drobny
Image is taken outside of SYA’s Spain campus.

 School Year Abroad or SYA is a non profit organization, focused on immersing high school students in the language and culture of either France, Italy, or Spain. Through the organization students get to live with a host family and fully experience the culture of the country they are studying in. Laurence Webber, SYA’s Assistant Director of Admissions, described those involved in SYA as a “Really close knit community” with cohorts of sixty kids.

When it comes to curriculum, SYA tends to be more hands-on than in a typical highschool like LFA. 

   According to LFA student Timea Bara 24’ who did a year abroad in Spain. She shared that, “Everything you learn you put into practice.” For example, for her art class they went to museums to physically study the artist.

   Webber has shared that LFA has recognized SYA’s curriculum as a “Different curriculum”, one “that LFA recognizes as an equivalent.” Everyone as SYA is required to take a target language class, an experiential language class. Math and English, other required classes, are taught by American teachers, speaking english. 

   Gray Drobny 25’ is a current SYA student studying in Spain. He said, “My classes are super interesting. Although most of my homework is in Spanish, the teachers are super patient when I have questions or write the wrong thing accidentally.”

   When it comes to adapting to and living in another country, Bara said,“For me this was life changing, it was the best decision I have ever made.” After her year abroad, she has decided to continue her academic career at a university in Spain. 

   Drobny agreed, “It’s definitely been a big change.” He has been adapting to this enormous shift in both language and culture. He shared,“ From taking most of my classes in Spanish, and speaking only Spanish with my host family, it’s been a total immersion.”

   Through this program, students have the opportunity to explore numerous areas of Spain, France, and Italy. After Bara’s year abroad, she could confidently say she “visited most of Spain.”

   Other opportunities students have while abroad are continuing past interests or getting involved in new ones through extracurriculars. Bara said, “I loved my extra curricular. I was a part of the art studio of a local artist” once a week she “Just learned the language and painted.” Drobny has yet to start his extracurriculars, but looks forward to it. He is going to take cooking classes and tutor younger kids in english. 

   When students come back from their semester or year abroad in either Spain, Italy, or France, Webber has described them to “Seem so worldly, so sure of themselves, so confident.” Having the opportunity of going abroad can be life changing especially, when experiencing such a diverse and differentiating lifestyle than what you are used to. This can be very impactful for high schoolers to be able to take part in.

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