Broadening their world views

Recent CHS grads are enjoying the road less taken by studying or working abroad

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Ella Dewars is studying abroad in Switzerland.

Angie Jonason is studying abroad in Italy.

Some Camas High School graduates have chosen to forgo the typical college experience for something more non-traditional and outside-of-the-box. From working as a nanny in France to studying at a culinary arts school in Italy, these students are taking time to gain a new world perspective and have experiences they won’t soon forget. The Post-Record interviewed a few of these recent graduates to learn in more detail about their unique adventures.

Ella Dewars

Age: 18

Year graduated from CHS: 2015

What are you doing now? I am currently living with a host family in Fribourg, Switzerland. I came to Switzerland as a gap year exchange student with AFS, an international youth exchange student program.

What led you to that non-traditional type of choice? My mom had studied abroad in Australia after graduating high school, so she first introduced the idea to me. I decided to become an exchange student myself because I wanted the chance to better my French, and I knew I wouldn’t have another opportunity where I could truly experience life in another country by living with a host family and attending a public school.

What are you hoping to gain from this experience? I’m hoping to gain friends from around the world, and a greater appreciation for life both outside of and in the United States.

What has been the greatest benefit and biggest challenge of living abroad? The greatest benefit has been meeting exchange students from around the world, and realizing that exchange creates an instant connection between people. I’ve found some lifelong friends in other exchange students.

The biggest challenge would probably be making local friends. The Swiss are known for being reserved and I have definitely found that to be true. Combined with the fact that I am nowhere near fluent in French, it was a bit difficult. However, after a few months here, I’m finding people that I now call friends.

Why do you feel it is important for young adults to have these kinds of experiences? Going on exchange as a high school student is completely unlike going abroad at any other point.

You’re really able to immerse yourself in the culture, because you are living with a host family and making local friends when you go to a public school in that country. It’s an amazing opportunity to experience life in another country, which I think helps us understand how people relate to each other.

Living in another country thousands of miles away from your family also forces you to become extremely independent.

Future career plans: I either want to go into chiropractic or I would love to have a career with an international human rights organization or something similar.

Angie Jonason

Age: 18

Year graduated from CHS: 2015

What are you doing now? I live in Italy and attend Florence University of the Arts, studying Italian baking and pastries. I am considering attending that master’s program after my internship is over.

What led you to that non-traditional choice? During my last year of high school, I did a senior project at Cake Happy in Camas. I loved baking but looked at it as more of a hobby.

After my experience there, I loved it and wanted to learn more, so I decided to move to Florence for a year to live with my best friend and study abroad.

What are you hoping to gain from this experience? Mostly just education in general. I am studying Italian sweets from some of the best pastry chefs there are. I’ve also made friends from all over the world.

What has been the greatest benefit and biggest challenge of living abroad? The greatest benefits are walking everywhere you need to go, so you don’t need a car or to use public transportation.

It also looks great on a resume. The biggest challenge is that I miss the food in the United States and the variety that we have. But I really can’t imagine doing anything else right now.

Why do you feel it is important for young adults to have these kinds of experiences? It changes and broadens your world view. If you have the chance to go abroad, even if it is just for a few weeks, do it. This is one of the most life-changing things you can do.

Future career plans: I would like to become a baker or pastry chef.

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