Students Return After Semester Programs End
by Sean Chanicka on Friday, February 7th, 2014
As the second semester begins at Milton, juniors Connor Stewart (II), Minh-Anh Day (II), Iris Carbonel-Estepan (II), and Serena Lan (II) return to their classes at Milton after spending half of their junior years studying in various semester programs.
The Mountain School of Milton Academy, a more than temporary home for both Connor and Minh-Anh this fall, offers students the opportunity to not only learn in the classroom but also experience everyday life on a farm. The Chewonki program, a school in Maine that Serena attended this past semester, allows students to blend their common and intellectual knowledge with the surrounding natural environment. New York City’s “CityTerm” program, which Iris went on for her semester away, offers students a rich city location to learn about urban life firsthand. In addition to these semester programs, Milton also offers Student Year Abroad programs at locations such as France, Spain, and Italy.
When asked to describe his experience at the Mountain School, Connor says, “I got to meet all kinds of great people there.” He highlighted the work program as one of his favorite parts, an element of Mountain School that allows students to perform hands-on labor between 1:30 and 3:50 every afternoon. “It allowed me to get some exercise and socialize during the academic day.” Minh-Anh says that although it was impossible for him to “boil down his experience” into a few snippets, he enjoyed his whole stay at the Mountain School greatly.
“Instead of meeting in a classroom, we met in the dining hall and drank tea while we worked,” Connor says. “The individual attention helped me improve tremendously as a student.” Connor recommends that freshman and sophomores try semester abroad programs such as the Mountain School, saying, “I made great friends and had experiences that will last a lifetime.” Minh-Anh echoes Connor’s statement, adding, “Almost everyone would enjoy the Mountain School.” Applications for the fall and spring semesters are due for Class III students this month.
Like Minh-Anh, Iris says that it was impossible to summarize her CityTerm experiences in just one sentence. “It was enlightening and one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever been a part of, and I’m forever grateful for my time there.” Iris also comments on the transformative aspects of the program: “I grew in the most unimaginable ways… throughout the process, I learned so much about myself, the way I learn, and my passions. CityTerm helped me find myself, and I was unarguably my best self there.”
When asked what her most memorable moment from CityTerm was, Iris recalls a story of ice-skating in Central Park. “We would skate in groups, holding hands and occasionally huddle together for pictures or to stay warm,” she says. “Everything just felt so perfect and I didn’t want to be anywhere else in the world but there.”
Iris encourages anyone who can to apply to a semester program. “Fall ‘13 changed me in the best way possible, and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she says. CityTerm applications are due February 15th for Class III students. Concord Academy will be hosting a reception on February 9th for any prospective students; at the event, CityTerm alumni will share their experiences from the program.
Lily Slocum (II) is currently in Spain on an SYA. Lily said, “Instead of being a tourist or visitor, you really do become a citizen and that way you learn more about the culture and immerse yourself in the family and junior year of school abroad.” Her favorite moment thus far has been partaking in the Fiesta de Pilar, a weeklong celebration throughout the city during the month of October.
Deciding to spend an entire school year in a foreign country can be challenging for many, and Lily shared similar beliefs before her program began. “Coming here was the hardest decision I’ve ever made,” she said. “I hated the idea in the beginning and could never see myself leaving home, but I cannot truly explain how beneficial it’s been for me.” Students interesting in partaking in the SYA program should consult the Student Year Abroad website, admissions.sya.org, where they can fill out applications for the 2014-2015 school year. SYA applications are due Monday, February 17, 2014.
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