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How a New York High School student spent the entire school year in China!

Updated: Aug 24, 2020

This past school year, our cousin, Christina Bowllan, spent the year learning, living and exploring in China. We interviewed her to help inspire high school students to travel, as well as educate other people who may be interested in traveling to China but don’t know what to expect. “Christina B. is currently a junior at SYA (School Year Abroad) China and a photographer for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Hewitt School (NY)”

  1. What is School Year Abroad?

School Year Abroad is a high school program that allows student to study abroad for either their junior or senior year. The four schools are located in France, Spain, Italy and China. 

2. Was it expensive?

Relatively, School Year Abroad was a lot of money, but I got a merit scholarship and financial aid.

2. Why China? 

Why not? In America, we know so little about Asian countries and I wanted to be able to bring back knowledge. Also, China will be an important country during my adult years.

  1. What does a typical day look like for you?

In the morning, we have two 45 minute Chinese classes—and two days a week we have three. For the rest of the day, we have the normal American classes, like math and science. After school, students have the opportunity to participate in different extracurricular activities like water coloring or martial arts.

  1. How has your experience been so far?

At the beginning of the school year, I had a really hard time adjusting to the new culture and schedule. But once I got used to it, I realized that this has been the best decision I have ever made. I am learning Chinese rapidly and making so many new friends from around the world. I never want to leave!

  1. One thing you can’t wait to do or see when you get back home

I can’t wait to see my family!! And eat a New York bagel, of course. 

  1. One thing you’ll miss once you leave?

The really convenient bus system! Every bus stop in China has at least 12 buses, so you can get a lot of places quickly.

  1. Tips or Recommendations for other teenagers traveling.

  2. Don’t be afraid to try new things!

  3. Be yourself; People will appreciate it 

  4. Talk to everyone; Try and use the language!

  5. Go outside of your comfort zone

  6. Make it your goal to try “weird” foods. They might not be as bad as you think.

She is now back home, reunited with her family. 

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