Mats Study Abroad


Aiofe and her Irish classmates pose.

Kendall Roberts

After years of study, and weeks of preparation then-junior Chiara Marley was finally ready to leave. Her destination? Suzhou, China. For two months, Marley would speak nothing but Mandarin, attend classes alongside host sister Wang XueMeng, and accomplish more than she could ever hope. “Studying abroad is the ultimate chance to experience a whole new way of life. I found myself constantly adapting to the environment around me.”

Living with a host family, Marley was treated to weekend trips around the city, traditional Chinese food, and a local perspective. She soon became enthralled with the simple adventure of walking the streets of Suzhou. “My friends and I had the options to go to the mall, karaoke, visit gardens, amusement parks, hike, drink copious amounts of boba tea, bike, bargain, go to JinJi Lake, visit museums and eat,” she said. Attending Suzhou No. 1 High School, Marley took four classes a day, all in Mandarin. “From the casual encounters with shopkeepers to getting lost using public transportation, I felt I was in a 24-hour living language lab.”

However,  Marley wasn’t the only Mat to break the boundaries of the typical high school experience. From Russia to Ireland, a select few Miramonte Students took the opportunity to study abroad.

Awarded a full scholarship from the US State Department Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs, Lillian Hunter-Reay spent six weeks in Yaroslavl, Russia. Stepping over the boundary between familiar and unfamiliar, she experienced an entirely different way of life.   “I lived with a host family that consisted of a host mom and two host brothers aged 11 and 15,”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world , senior Aoife Tejada spent one semester of her sophomore year studying abroad in Ireland. “I feel a lot more connected to my Irish family as well as the country in general,” Tejada said. Returning to her Irish roots, she divided her time among distant family members, spending time in both the country and the city. “I became closer with my family than I ever dreamed of being,” Tejada said, who, consequently, attended her mother’s all-girls highschool of three hundred students. Picking up on the dialect, attending classes, and working tours in a museum, this was an experience unlike any other.  “I love and appreciate the Irish culture so much more now,” Tejada said.

However, students’ respective experiences didn’t end upon their return. Effects of their trips continue to influence aspects of their lives today. After months of self-sufficiency, all three students reported increased confidence and a love of language.

Enhancing language skills, life experience, and personal development, studying abroad has many proven positive effects. Enticing on college applications, students who study abroad are two times more likely to secure employment within six months following college, with almost 100 percent reporting better grades following their return.  

While any and all students are recommended to participate in a study abroad program, those interested in language are the most common candidates. Language immersion courses are proven to deliver results in weeks or less, with full literacy in two years. “I would recommend this program (studying abroad) to anyone who wants to challenge themselves,” Marley said. “If we take time to understand other cultures, we learn so much more about ourselves.”