As senior year comes to an end, many students look for a way to further themselves by traveling to other countries in search of newfound knowledge, school credit or just a way to distance themselves from the lifestyle they have known for the past 18 years.

One such student is senior Janine Berger, who deferred her admission to American University and plans to travel abroad to India during the 2011-12 school year. With a trip to Asia in her near future, Berger said that she is excited to change her schedule from the daily attendance of school to something different.

“I decided that school’s been so crazy and I’ve always worked really hard at school, but the more I looked into this opportunity, the more I decided traveling was the right idea,” Berger said.

Berger will travel to India with a youth exchange program, living with a host family and exchanging cultural knowledge with the people she meets.

“The Rotary Youth Exchange is similar to the Peace Corps, only it’s directed more towards the youth,” Berger said. “The cool thing about it is you meet other people from around the world that are like you and you create this community. There are people from all over, like Spain, Brazil and Russia.”

Away from her friends and family, Berger is a little worried about her travels to a far off land, but she said she hopes to use her travels as an experience to build and further her education.

Senior Andrew Pottschmidt shares plans similar to Berger’s. Attending The University of Dayton next year, Pottschmidt plans on traveling to Hawaii for a semester.  There, he hopes receive school credit by studying with the University of Dayton’s International program. He will participate in a required service learning project through Chaminade University’s campus ministry program while in Honolulu.

Pottschmidt said he hopes to use his travels to explore some place different, and he might even use the trip to develop a connection to the island and possibly one day move there.

“Dayton has a sister school in Hawaii [that] if I like it enough, I might set up a life there,” he said. “[But] my main goal [for freshman year will be] to get my application and resume built up to tailor my way to get to Hawaii.”

If Pottschmidt does end up traveling to Hawaii, he will need to apply with a strong resume and a list of credentials to put him in the running for a spot on the trip.

Senior Mark Finneran hoped to take a gap year and to travel to either Puerto Rico or South Africa; however, expenses may hinder his traveling.

“Definitely the cost is pretty prohibitive. I’d also have to defer admission, to [Ohio University] and don’t know if I could keep my scholarship,” Finneran said. “So the planning is the hardest part of it.”

If his hopes for a gap year fall through, he might pursue other options through OU.

“If I don’t do it this year, I’ll probably pursue a study abroad program in college. It would combine my education and being able to travel abroad into one package,” Finneran said.

No matter these seniors’ decisions, a year abroad is an exciting option to escape the norm. Whether furthering their education, exploring new cultures or meeting new people, traveling abroad offers opportunities for experiencing the world outside of UA.  •