Gap year a chance to travel

Letitia Busniak, GERALDTON GUARDIANGeraldton Guardian

While most school leavers spend their gap years in part-time jobs or taking a break before uni, Geraldton teenager Sarah Summers decided to spend her year living abroad.

The Geraldton Grammar School leaver returned in January from a 12-month Rotary Youth Exchange program in Denmark.

The 2014 school-leaver spent time with three host families during her travels and also attended school, in studies equivalent to Australia’s year 12.

Ms Summers, who admitted the language barrier was a struggle early on, has returned able to speak fluent Danish.

“I just struggled along with my studies for a little while but by the end of it all I was able to join in with discussions and take part like any other student,” she said.

“Even with my host families I got so close with them that after my four months with each host were up, I was so devastated. It was like leaving my own family for the flight over here.

“I still keep in contact with them. We Skype each other whenever we can and they’re still like a second family.”

The young jetsetter also got to travel with other exchange students, who spent three weeks touring wider Europe in locations like Italy and France.

After her whirlwind adventure, Ms Summers is back in Geraldton and encouraging other students to apply for their own exchange.

She met with Geraldton Grammar School students for a talk last week, after applications for a new round of programs in 2017 opened.

Ms Summers said rather than just a year in her life, her exchange allowed her to live a life in a year.

“It is the most life-changing experience you could ever go on and I’ve returned home such a completely different person,” she said.

Applications for exchange programs in 2017 close on March 31 this year.

To apply or for more information click here.

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