Ashley Haley went back to school the same month she got out of it. Now a junior at West Jessamine High School, Haley brushed up on her French over the summer as she participated in a month-long study-abroad experience.
Haley found the program through Ayusa, a nonprofit organization offering study-abroad programs in 10 countries and volunteer programs in five countries. She was in France from June 17 to July 21.
Haley had traveled internationally before with her family but found a different experience when she went to France by herself in June.
“Flying by myself, being there alone and taking care of myself was different,” she said. “I learned a lot of responsibility.”
After taking four French classes in high school, Haley was still amazed at all she didn’t know as she studied the language with other high-schoolers.
“I thought I knew a lot more than I did when I got there, but taking it in school helped a lot,” she said.
Haley went to school from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and visited different sights and attractions on afternoons and off days.
She stayed with an older couple in Amboise, France, along with another student from Brazil. She said one of the biggest differences she noticed between France and the United States was how the European country shuts down and rests often.
“They stop everything on the weekends — Saturday, Sunday, a lot of places closed on Monday,” she said. “Everything closed two hours for lunch.”
The dining fare in France was more tolerable than Haley had expected.
“I’m really picky, so I thought I was going to not be eating anything, but the food was really good,” she said. “It’s not a lot different from American foods; they just eat a lot of different meats and cheese and bread.”
While the West student progressed in her French studies while abroad, she said other aspects of the trip had been just as valuable.
“You learn a lot about other cultures; I think that’s really important for people, especially teenagers,” Haley said. “Getting along with other people and learning responsibility was really beneficial for me; I loved it.”
Her mother, Shellie, admitted she was nervous at first to send her daughter overseas by herself, but she said traveling experiences are important for teenagers.
“I think it’s good that kids this age start traveling; it does help them adjust and be more well-rounded,” Shellie Haley said.
And Ashley Haley hopes to go back to France in the future and recommends study-abroad trips to her peers.
“I suggest for anybody to study abroad; I think it’s important to go to school there and not just go; I think that was really good to see everything,” she said. “If I went back again, there’s a lot more stuff I’d see.”
For more information on Ayusa, visit www.ayusa.org.