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Leaving Iowa behind: PV students embrace the opportunity to travel abroad

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Leaving Iowa behind: PV students embrace the opportunity to travel abroad

The hallway of PVHS proudly displays the memories of students who have studied abroad.

The hallway of PVHS proudly displays the memories of students who have studied abroad.

Lilly Parker

The hallway of PVHS proudly displays the memories of students who have studied abroad.

Lilly Parker

Lilly Parker

The hallway of PVHS proudly displays the memories of students who have studied abroad.

Lilly Parker, Copy Editor

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Opportunities seem endless in the hallways of Pleasant Valley High School, but those who have studied abroad say one of the most fascinating and unique opportunities available to PV students are school trips to countries around the world.

The most recent PV cultural immersion trips have been to countries such as Spain, England, and South Africa. The students who attended the trips took an interest in the various locations for different reasons–some to be immersed in a language or to take a break from the United States, and other to simply experience a new culture.

Stephanie Risius, a Spanish teacher, organizes and typically attends all of the trips as a chaperone to the students. Currently, Risius has visited over 40 countries and is passionate about sharing her adventures with students who may be interested in traveling or studying abroad in the future.

As a college student, Risius was originally an accounting major with a Spanish minor. She said, “After studying in Spain, I knew I couldn’t sit in an office from 9 to 5.” Her passion for the Spanish language and teaching others led Risius to what she considered the best of both worlds, where she could have a financially stable job while fulfilling her passion for traveling.

Risius’ inspiration for creating trips for students came from her experience in high school when she couldn’t afford to study abroad or miss excessive amounts of school. Now, at PV, Risius organizes approximately three trips a year for students to attend that are affordable and take place during spring or summer breaks.

One student who has benefited from these PV trips is senior Nico Moralez. Moralez is in AP Spanish and has traveled abroad to experience the Spanish culture and practice his Spanish with locals. He attended the language immersion trip to Spain, during which he visited cities such as Madrid, Toledo and Barcelona.

“We speak Spanish on a daily basis in class, but that setting is somewhat a simulation. I wanted to be able to use the language within its original setting,” Moralez said. He believes his experience in Spain solidified his desire to study Spanish in the future.

Maya McClain
Senior, Maya McClain, was able to practice her Spanish with Guatemalan children during a missions trip during the summer of 2017.

Moralez knows his Spanish skills will help him in situations other than travel. He said, “Having the ability to speak multiple languages is an extremely useful skill to have in modern America.” Moralez recommends participating in trips through the school because it gives students the cultural context that is necessary for mastering a foreign language.

Caroline Christophersen, a senior, is a firm believer in world travel and youth exchange programs. She chose to spend her junior year of high school studying in France. Christophersen said, “Abroad, you really realize what is important to you and I have a lot clearer vision for my future.”

Abroad, you really realize what is important to you”

— Caroline Christophersen

However, Christophersen said her decision to study abroad and be away from her family for a year wasn’t an easy choice to make. She said, after careful consideration, she concluded that she could only grow so much where she was, and she was ready to turn to the next page in her life.

She took a risk studying abroad during high school, since none of the school credits she earned from her hard work in France transferred back to Pleasant Valley. For this reason, Christophersen had to work twice as hard as the average student to get caught up in school and to graduate with the class of 2019.

Christophersen warns that studying abroad shouldn’t be a choice made lightly. Although she enjoyed her time spent in France, she faced a massive culture shock and felt homesick.

Even with all of the hardships she faced, however, Christopherson said she would do it all over again.  “I learned so much about life,” she said.

Perhaps some students who have participated in PV’s trips abroad will find it to be a gateway to a lengthier future trip similar to Christophersen’s.

The trips created by Risius are a popular way for students to discover their passions for traveling and possibly studying abroad in the future. They offer a balance between the extreme risk of studying overseas for a year in a new country and being unable to discover new places as a high school student.

 

 

 

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Leaving Iowa behind: PV students embrace the opportunity to travel abroad