RHS ECHO: Online student news

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RHS ECHO: Online student news

RHS ECHO: Online student news

McLaughlin to study abroad in South Korea

Hannah Puetz

It seems that many students nowadays are beginning to zip up their suitcases and shout goodbyes to their home countries to gain an experience abroad with a foreign exchange program. As stated by World Bound Learning, according to Open Doors, published annually by the Institute of International Education in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs, the overall number of Americans studying abroad for credit has more than doubled in 15 years. 

With this sudden boost in foreign exchange programs, many high schools are both sending students to different countries to study abroad and inviting students from around the world to attend their school for the semester or year. Rolla High School consistently hosts exchange students, and is also a sending school for students to study abroad in another country. 

One RHS student who is preparing for her foreign exchange program overseas is junior Rebecca McLaughlin. After having feelings of wanting to go somewhere new and explore a new country, McLaughlin decided to apply for a study abroad program through the Rotary Youth Exchange.

“I wanted to go somewhere new and I knew that I probably wasn’t going to ever get to [do] that in college,” stated McLaughin.

The Rotary Youth Exchange was created in 1929 with the primary purpose of sending secondary school students to study abroad in other countries to experience new cultures, learn languages, and become a global citizen. The process of applying and being accepted for the study abroad program is no easy process though; McLaughlin had to fill out many applications and essays to be chosen. 

“So it’s Rotary Youth Exchange and it was down in the cafeteria. Susan Potrafka is the organizer of the whole thing, and she was like ‘you’re doing this,’” stated McLaughlin. “So then I had to do all of the application stuff and the essays.” 

 The program gives students the chance to pick five out of the hundreds of countries that they could study in, and hopefully, they get the opportunity to travel to one of them. Luckily for McLaughlin, her top choice of what country she wanted to study in was granted: South Korea. 

 McLaughlin became fascinated with South Korea in 2018, and has been ever since. Though her interest first began due to pop culture, she quickly became captivated by the culture and country. 

“I’ve been interested in South Korea since 2018, and it’s been my dream to go there ever since,” stated McLaughlin. “It started with K-pop, but then expanded with the culture.” 

McLaughlin is planning to study in Busan, South Korea for the entirety of her senior year. With that, she must be able to speak Korean practically fluently. The Rotary Youth Exchange gives all study abroad students a whole year of Rosetta Stone, which is an accelerated language program, so they can build up their speaking and knowledge of their countries language. 

“No [I don’t speak Korean], but they [The Rotary Youth Exchange] pay for a whole year of Rosetta Stone for us to be able to work on an hour of every single day up until February. Then, all nine of us have to give a fifteen minute speech in that language,” stated McLaughlin. 

Being away in a foreign country for a whole year has its benefits, but it also has some disadvantages, such as leaving family and friends behind. Though McLaughlin’s family is very supportive of her upcoming trip, they also are dreading her departure. 

“My siblings all hate it, they don’t want me to leave. Neither does my mom, but my dad was like ‘go,’” stated McLaughin. 

Despite there being some drawbacks to foreign exchange, one benefit is the opportunity to experience a different form of school life and education. 

“[I am most excited about] experiencing the school life definitely, because I know it’s very harsh there,” explained McLaughlin. 

Overall, McLaughlin is quite enthusiastic about her upcoming study abroad program and cannot wait to finally see the country she has been dreaming of visiting for years now. 

“It’s just an amazing country and now I finally have the opportunity to go and even better, live there,” stated McLaughlin. “I can’t wait to experience the student life there.”

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About the Contributor
Hannah Puetz
Hannah Puetz, Editor-In-Chief
Bonjour! I’m Hannah, the editor-in-chief of ECHO; and this is my third year on the staff. Along with ECHO, I work as the Phelps County Focus Sowers Intern and write for a college newspaper. In my free time I enjoy writing, listening to music and watching Gilmore Girls.